Cheryl’s Cuisine: June 2018

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Why not make some new side dishes  the “crowning glories” of your upcoming summer parties?  Your guests will welcome a new refreshing change from coleslaw, pasta salad, broccoli salad and copper penny salad.    

One of my favorite items to work with is orzo.  Yes, it’s a pasta, however, it’s smaller, more delicate, and I’ve  found it easier to eat for young children and older adults. Not fitting into the latter category just yet, I love the way orzo picks up the flavor of the other ingredients.  It’s shaped like a longer grain of rice and has become an option for cooks. It’s very versatile to use in salads, soups, main dishes, casseroles, and also may be used as a substitute for pasta or rice.  

So here are some recipes I have used time and again from the Annunciation Greek Church in Scranton, which, by the way, is holding its annual Food Festival this month — a “don’t miss” event.


orzo3 cups water or chicken broth (I use canned broth)
1/2 stick butter or margarine (I use butter)
1 clove garlic, crushed (Sometimes I use 2-3)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1-6 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup orzo
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water or broth and add tomato sauce and butter.  Add the orzo, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Boil slowly about 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Some of the liquid will remain. Let stand for 1 hour until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.  May be topped with grated Parmesan cheese.


Orzo Casserole with Vegetables:

2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 cups peeled, seeded and chopped plum tomatoes
zucchini1 1/2  lbs. zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
2 cloves garlic
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 lb. orzo
5 cups water

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet.  Add onions and cook over low heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cinnamon and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. The onions should be translucent and slightly caramelized.  Remove onions from the skillet. In skillet, heat 2 more tablespoons oil and cook carrots over low heat for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender, not soft.  Stir occasionally.

Preheat oven to 375. In large pot, bring 5 cups salted water to boil and add orzo.  As soon as water begins to boil again, remove pot from heat and pour contents into a large ovenproof casserole dish.  Add onions, carrots, tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. oil, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper and mix together. Cover and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring mixture very well from bottom of the dish every so often to keep orzo from sticking.

While vegetable mixture is cooking, heat 2 more Tbsp. oil in the skillet and cook zucchini until tender, but firm, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Toss zucchini and garlic in with the orzo, combining zucchini and garlic with orzo. Bake, uncovered, for another hour, or until orzo is tender.  

Check orzo and stir during baking to prevent sticking. Add water if necessary. Remove bay leaves and mix in remaining oil and vinegar. Serve immediately.


Lemon Shrimp and Orzo:

lemon-pepper-shrimp-orzo-above-w-name1 lb. medium shrimp
1 pint cherry  tomatoes
3 medium celery stalks
1-9 oz. pkg. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1/4 cup oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 lb. or 8 oz. orzo
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt

Shell and de-vein shrimp.  Thinly slice celery. Slice each cherry tomato in half.  Prepare orzo as label directs, but omit salt; drain. Meanwhile, in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat, in hot oil, cook artichoke hearts, garlic and celery for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes or until shrimp and vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium. Stir orzo, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, minced oregano and salt into shrimp mixture; heat through.  If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate to serve chilled later.


Now, this recipe isn’t from the church, however, I found it many years ago and I love serving it especially on hot summer days:

Artichoke and Olive Orzo Salad:

artichoke-square-a2-18001  lb. orzo, cooked, al dente
1 jar artichoke hearts, chopped, reserving marinade
1 can black olives, sliced or halved
1 red onion, diced finely
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine cooked and drained orzo, chopped artichoke hearts, olives, and onion.  Add mayonnaise to your taste. Drizzle in a little marinade from the artichoke hearts.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve chilled.


Refreshing and easy…make it a day ahead:

Rosa Marina Fruit Salad:

orange-pineapple-cherry-isolated-white-background-as-package-design-element-683279361 lb. orzo pasta, cooked al dente
2 -15 oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained and juice reserved
1-16 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained with juice reserved
1-4 oz. jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp. flour
1-16 oz. container Cool Whip

Add cooked and drained orzo to large bowl.  Add oranges, pineapple chunks and cherries. Stir well.  Combine juices from oranges and pineapple chunks, sugar, eggs and flour in a saucepan over low heat; cook, stirring often until sauce is thickened (about 5-7 minutes).   

Remove from heat and cool, at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Pour cooled sauce over orzo mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate until flavors blend, 8 hours to overnight. Fold Cool Whip into orzo mixture before serving.

Cheryl’s Cuisine: March 2018

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

Life can be full of simple pleasures.  One of these such pleasures is a steaming hot drink on a cold night.  Even though it’s March and days may be in the 50’s, evenings are still cold.  So here are some great ideas to enjoy while sitting back and reading, watching your favorite shows, or just “chilling out.”   

My husband doesn’t care for a hot drink at night, so I usually refrigerate the leftover quantities and reheat the next evening—one of my simple pleasures…

Brazilian Chocolate:

cocoa1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cups milk
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind
1/4 tsp. almond extract

Blend cocoa with sugar.  Gradually stir in the water and milk.   Heat to boiling point. Add orange rind and almond extract.  

If you’d like, beat with rotary beater until frothy. Makes 1 quart.  

NOTE: Some like this chilled then beaten. Your choice. Enjoy!


Hot Vegetable Punch:

2-10 1/2 oz. cans condensed beef consomme’
2 cans water
5 cups tomato juice or V-8
6-8 stalks celery, chopped
2 small onions, diced small
1 small bay leaf
7-8 whole black peppercorns
Few carrot slices
Sprinkling of fresh parsley
Juice of 1/4 lemon

Simmer condensed consomme’, an equal amount of water and tomato juice with celery, onions, bay leaf, peppercorns, carrot slices and parsley.  When vegetables are thoroughly cooked, add lemon juice. Makes 8 servings.


Russian Tea:

cinnamon1 quart water
4 tea bags
1 stick cinnamon
1 Tbsp.  whole cloves

Boil these ingredients for four minutes.  Strain into the following mixture:

2 quarts water
1-6 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate
1-6 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate
1-16 oz. can pineapple juice
1 1/2 cups sugar

Stir all together and reheat.  Makes 25 servings.

NOTE: I’ve even frozen much of this mixture for later use.  


Yummy Apple Cider:

Slow-Cooker-Apple-Cider-SQUARE6 whole cloves
3 whole allspice
3-3″ cinnamon sticks, broken
1 Tbsp. grated orange rind
2 quarts apple cider
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup apple brandy

Tie cloves, allspice, cinnamon stick and orange rind in a cheesecloth bag.  Combine spice bag and cider in large saucepan. Bring mixture to full boil; reduce heat to medium and cook 35 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 4 cups.  Discard spice bag, stir in orange juice and remaining ingredients. Simmer over medium heat just until heated through. Yields 8 cups.


Chocolate Delight:

3/4  cup cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups strong coffee
1 cup Kirsch or brandy
Whipped cream

Blend cocoa with sugar.  Gradually stir in milk. Heat to boiling point.  Remove from heat and add coffee and Kirsch or brandy.  Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream. Makes 8 cups.


atomic-hot-chocolateRich Hot Chocolate:

7 1/2 cups milk
10 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipped cream

Bring milk to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.  Pour half of hot milk into blender. Add half of chocolate, 2 tsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.  Cover, blend on low speed until chocolate melts and mixture is foamy.

Pour into mugs. Repeat with remaining hot milk, chocolate, sugar and vanilla.  Garnish each mug with whipped cream and serve. Makes 8 servings.


Lights Out:

2 cups hot espresso coffee
1/4 cup coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)
2 Tbsp. Southern Comfort
1/2 cup whipped cream
Grated semisweet chocolate

Combine espresso, coffee liqueur and Southern Comfort in medium bowl.  Flavor mixture with sugar to taste. Divide among 4 cups. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with grated chocolate.  Makes 4 servings.

Cheryl’s Cuisine: February 2018

Well, this month became a toss-up once I realized that  Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, falls on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.    It’s been decades since this event has happened. The next time the two will coincide will be Feb. 14, 2024.  

So we have a few years to enjoy the two on their own merits.  Advice from some includes: Celebrate early, keep it simple, do for others, and embrace the temptation.

For those of us who are “traditionalists”, I’ve found some wonderfully romantic, satisfying recipes that don’t include meat.

Baked Artichokes:

51hfxMwCu3L._SX355_1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
8 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup  grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
3 lb. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained well

Mix all ingredients well in large bowl  Bake in shallow pan in preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.


Warm Olive Saute:

1 lemon
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. dried  crushed red pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups mixed olives
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced
1/2 cup roasted, salted almonds

Remove peel from lemon, reserving lemon for another recipe.  Saute’ lemon peel, minced garlic,  fennel seeds and crushed red pepper in hot oil over medium heat for about 1 minute.   Add olives, fennel and almonds.  Cook, stirring occasionally about 7-10 minutes  or until the fennel is crisp-tender.


Endive Salad: 

o-ENDIVE-facebook1 small head  endive, rinsed and drained
1 small head  butter lettuce, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup walnut oil
3 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup fresh cherries, rinsed and pitted
4 oz. Roquefort cheese, crumbled
2 Tbsp. chopped chives

Tear endive and lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in salad bowl.    In small bowl, combine oil, vinegar and lemon juice.  Beat with a whisk and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle mixture over greens and mix well.  Arrange greens on individual plates and top with walnuts, cherries, cheese and chives.


Pasta with Roasted Grape Tomatoes: 

product_image-grape_tomatoes3 pints grape tomatoes
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried or fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Favorite pasta, cooked al dente
Grated Italian cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Rinse tomatoes and pat dry with paper towels.  Combine tomatoes with rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss gently to coat and place in a single layer in a shallow roasting  pan.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until tomato skins are blistered and start to pop.   Serve over your favorite pasta. Pass the cheese.


Coquilles Saint Jacques:

3/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Grilled_Scallops1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. fresh bay scallops or sea scallops, halved

1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup flour
Dash of white pepper
1 cup milk

1 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. minced parsley
In small saucepan, mix wine, lemon juice and salt.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 minute.  Add scallops and simmer 1 minute longer.   Drain, reserving liquid.  You should have 1 cup.  Add water, if needed.

In another saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter and saute’ the green onion and garlic for 1 minute.  Add mushrooms and cook until barely tender.  Stir in flour and white pepper  Add milk and reserved cup of scallop liquid.  Cook until thick and bubbly.  Taste for seasoning.  Remove from heat and stir in scallops.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter 6 coquilles (shells) or other ovenproof shallow serving dishes and fill with scallops.  Mix bread crumbs with melted butter and Parmesan and sprinkle over scallops.  Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned. sprinkle with parsley and serve.   


NOTE: If you’re giving up dessert for Lent, try some fresh fruit (not considered dessert for me) placed in a fancy crystal glass and pour some Frangelico over.  

Refrigerate it for an hour before serving.  Happy Valentine’s Day!