Cheryl’s Cuisine: July 2020

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Well, we’re finally in the “Green” and so many things have changed in our lives this year.  Every year at this time I’m usually covering the Food and Wine Festival at the former Sands Casino in Bethlehem (now Wind Creek).  Of course, due to the pandemic, this event, along with most others, have been cancelled.  Well, where do we go from here?  

Many of my friends refuse to call it a “new normal”, adding that masks, social distancing, etc. are not “normal” for us.  However, we  still must follow along with some restrictions as Covid has caused way too many illnesses and deaths.   As we wait for a vaccine, we can still have small family gatherings in our own backyards.   So during this quarantine time, I’ve experimented with new husband is usually the best guinea pig I ever met as he’s always hungry and will try anything, but is highly critical.

So here are some new recipes that are perfect for summer which I’ve tried that have received rave reviews from my family.  

Hot Corn Dip

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 cup ( 4oz.) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 can (15 oz.) corn, drained
1 can ( 4 oz) diced green chiles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl, mix together cheeses, corn, green chiles, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.  Pour mixture into 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  Top with diced tomato and green onions.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.  


Grilled Romaine with Caesar Dressing

I make this at least once per week….easy and delicious!

2 large heads of Romaine lettuce
Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. capers, drained

Cut romaine stalks in half lengthwise, keeping ends intact so each half stays together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, mix dressing ingredients in jar.  Brush some of the dressing on the romaine halves.  Heat grill pan over medium-high heat.  Place brushed romaine stalks cut-side down on grill and sear for 3-4 minutes, until well browned.  Flip over and cook on other side until browned and romaine is slightly wilted.  Plate romaine and pour a few teaspoons of dressing over lettuce.  Serve immediately.

NOTE:  This makes more dressing than you’ll need, so I keep leftover in the jar in the refrigerator and keep adding olive oil to it as needed.  Gets even better with age.  This will serve 4 people, unless you want a light supper, then each can have an entire head of romaine.


My nieces are always complaining that my food has too many calories. They work out in gyms daily and are very careful about their eating habits. So, for Father’s Day at my brother’s house, when they asked me to make my Potato Salad for the family dinner, I decided to make a “no-mayo” version…A French Potato Salad, which was the hit of the dinner, except for my brother, who missed the mayonnaise and sour cream.  Oh, well…Can’t please everyone.

French Potato Salad

3 lbs. small red potatoes, scrubbed and washed
4 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or lemon juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 ribs celery, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced

Cook potatoes in cold water  and 1 Tbsp. salt in gently boiling water until fork tender.  Drain potatoes in colander and transfer to a large mixing bowl.   Add 2 Tbsp. of the vinegar or lemon juice while potatoes are still hot.  

While potatoes are cooking, make the dressing.  In small bowl whisk together the oil, garlic, remaining 2 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice, Dijon mustard, crushed red pepper flakes.  Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.  Whisk until fully combined. Drizzle half of the dressing over the WARM potatoes and gently toss to combine.  Add the chopped celery and red onion.  Toss again.  Drizzle in the remaining dressing.  Gently toss until everything is coated.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.  Note:  If dressing is absorbed too quickly, you may have to drizzle olive oil over before serving.


Lemon Marinated Mushrooms

1 lb. fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup salad or olive oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Cut mushrooms in 1/4″ slices.  In small jar with lid, combine oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper.  Cover jar and shake well.  Pour mixture over mushrooms, tossing gently to coat.  Let mixture stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  


Peppered Oranges

Fond memories of this dish when they used to serve it at Villa Verilla in Blakeslee:

2 navel oranges
2-4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Green grapes for garnish

Trim off and discard a slice from both ends of each orange.  Cut oranges into 1/4″ slices, place in bowl and sprinkle generously with pepper.  Pour olive oil over and marinate for 1 hour or more.  Drain and arrange slices in overlapping pattern on a serving dish.  Garnish with  green grapes.


Roasted Red Pepper and Brie Salad

This can also be served as an appetizer sans the arugula

1 lb. arugula, picked over and washed
1 lb. Brie cheese
3 red peppers, roasted and seeded (you can buy them in a jar)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Dry arugula gently on a towel.  Cut Brie into 1 oz. squares, leaving rind.  Cut peppers into 3/4″ strips and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap each pepper strip around a piece of Brie.  To plate the salad, place 4 pieces of wrapped Brie a the outer edge of a microwave-safe plate.  Heat for 10-15 seconds in microwave, just to slightly melt the Brie.  Place a small bunch of arugula in the center of the plate and drizzle with oil.  Season with salt and pepper.


Peach and Banana Sorbet

Just wait until you taste this refreshing treat. Peaches are ripe now, also!

4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups sliced peaches
2 ripe bananas
Juice of 4 lemons
Juice of 4 oranges
2 Tbsp. peach liqueur

Stir and dissolve the sugar in 4 cups of water over low to medium heat.   This is a simple syrup.  Stir in vanilla and remove from heat and cool completely.  Puree” peaches and bananas in food processor or blender.  Add lemon and orange juices and liqueur to the cooled syrup and combine with the fruit puree’ in the processor or blender. Process only until it is mixed well. 

Work in two batches, if necessary.  divide the sorbet into 6 or 8 individual molds or serving dishes and freeze until ready to be served.

Cheryl’s Cuisine: COVID Cooking

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Coping during this time of “quarantine” has not been easy.  Being a social person, I used to spend hours grocery shopping, looking around, searching for new items and new ideas, talking to friends, acquaintances,  parents of former students, and even former students who are now adults with their own families.  I so miss my grocery shopping trips that are now limited to twice per month.

My trips are now comprised of the following steps: Get in store, get what you need, no looking around, don’t bump into the robot patrolling the aisles at Giant, follow the arrows,  don’t shop for more items than allowed (limit 1 or 2), check out quickly, load up and head home.  Actually, I’ve shopped at all the local grocery stores to experience the “new way” of shopping.  It’s actually taken the pleasure out of the trips for me.  

So, how have you been coping during this time? What do you miss the most? Besides “normal” grocery shopping, I miss meeting my friends for lunch.  Retired teachers love meeting for lunch.  

Coping for me started with trying to sew masks for us when everyone was sold out.  That didn’t work out very well considering the fact that when I was in high school and college, I made my own clothes.  I’ve evidently lost that skill.    Fortunately, I was able to purchase some masks when CVS got its new shipment.   So now I’ve graduated to doing my needlework and latch-hooking rugs.   However,  most of my time is spent cooking (no surprise), but now it’s “Covid Cooking”, using items you have in your pantry and freezer…no running out for items.  

So this month I’m sharing my “Covid Cooking” dishes:  

Grilled Rib Eyes with Beer and Brown Sugar Marinade:

2 Rib Eye steaks
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle garlic powder
Sprinkle cayenne pepper

Mix together brown  sugar, beer and teriyaki sauce in plastic storage bag.  Add steak and marinate overnight in refrigerator.  When ready to cook, remove from marinade and rub steaks with a mixture of seasonings.  Broil until desired doneness.  Heat leftover marinade on  stove to boiling and simmer while steaks broil.  Baste tops of steaks with marinade before serving.  


Slow Cooker Brisket:

1-3 lb. beef brisket
1 -12 oz. bottle chili sauce
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
2 tsp. garlic powder

Place brisket in slow cooker.  In medium bowl, mix together the chili sauce, onion soup mix and garlic powder.  Pour over brisket.  Cover, and cook on Low for 8-10 hours.  Slice brisket against the grain and pour gravy over slices.  Note:  You can also place this in baking  dish , pour over ingredients, wrap tightly with foil, and bake in 325 oven for 3 1/2 hours.


Honey Garlic Pork Chops:

6-1″ thick pork chops
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Combine ketchup, soy sauce and garlic.  Broil pork chops.  During the last few minutes, pour sauce over and baste.  Continue cooking until sauce and chops are cooked through.


Banana Creme Pie:

1 pie crust, baked
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/3 cups whole milk
4  eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. butter
3 large bananas
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk.  Whisk over medium heat until hot and bubbly.  Let boil 1 minute and remove from heat.  Whisk 1/2 cup of hot mixture into eggs a spoonful at a time until incorporated.  Pour egg mixture back into pot and whisk.  Bring to low boil and let cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.   Transfer to large bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on top of filling. Refrigerate 30-45 minutes.  Spread thin layer of the custard into prepared, cooled pie crust.  Add sliced bananas and remaining custard.  Spread with whipped cream and refrigerate at least 3 hours.


Blueberry Cobbler:

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
1 cup baking mix (Bisquick)
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp. melted butter.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla.  Place blueberries in 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  Pour sugar mixture over berries.  Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until bubbly.  Combine baking mix, milk and melted butter.  Drop by tablespoonfuls over hot berries, increase oven to 425 degrees, and bake for 15 minutes or until topping is lightly browned like biscuits.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.


When you don’t have any cake mixes in the house, this is perfect and it’s only 8×8″:

Perfect Chocolate Cake:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup  milk
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm water or coffee

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 8×8″ glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray sides and bottom.  Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl.  Add in egg, milk, oil and vanilla and mix on low until fully incorporated.  When mixed in, increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. 

Add in warm water or coffee and gently stir.  Batter will be thin.  Pour batter into prepared baking dish.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then continue cooling on a rack until room temperature.

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In medium microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips in microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each heating until fully melted. 

Add sour cream and vanilla and stir by hand until frosting is well combined and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake.   

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.