Cooking With Your Friends: Easy Flounder Roll-ups

Alright, everyone flip to page 118 for today’s recipe – Easy Flounder Roll-Ups submitted by Becky O’Hara. My husband and I are huge seafood fans and especially huge fans of recipes with the word “easy” in them. :)

After gathering all the ingredients, I realized that we had to cook the rice first. Ugh. So we waited while the white rice cooked, about 20 minutes (unfortunately, no minute rice for me!). Once that was done, the rest really was easy. It was quite a feat to fit all the veggies and such onto the flounder to roll it up, but I tried.

Once I shoved as much as I could into the roll, I put it into a small round casserole dish and stuffed the extra stuffing around the edges which seemed to work just fine.

Half hour and 5 minutes later, this is what the casserole dish looked like.

The flounder cooked nicely and was perfectly done. We could’ve handled a bit more shredded cheese but the whole dish was nice and moist. Yum!!

Cooking with Your Friends: Simple Sloppy Joes

Our Facebook friends who are searching for a one pot meal need look no further than this recipe. It’s a recipe a mother can love: kids like sloppy Joes, it calls for added vegetables, and they just aren’t that sloppy!

The ingredient list is straightforward. (Don’t worry about that orange pepper; the recipe calls for a green one.) There’s just a small bit of chopping. After that, the meal comes together quickly.

We liked that the vegetables held their snap in this sandwich. We also liked that the sandwiches weren’t too saucy. A good weeknight meal.

Cooking with Your Friends: Spicy Pretzels

You’d think it would be easy to cook from the Friends’ Cookbook once a week. But my sister is getting married in three months, and I have a dress fitting (ugh) coming up. Any chance I get to cook for other people, I take. So even though my hostess told me that she didn’t need any more snacks for the Super Bowl party, I took the opportunity to whip up Spicy Pretzels.

The difficult part of this recipe was breaking up the pretzels. You stir together a few ingredients, drizzle the mixture over the broken pretzels, and bake in a slow oven. They were goooooood. Not too spicy, sort of a slow burn.

Although I stirred them frequently, not all of the pretzels absorbed the “marinade.” I think if I made these again (and if I’m invited back, I will–the hostess loved them) I’d toss the pretzels with the marinade instead of pouring the mixture over the pretzels as called for in the recipe. There can’t be enough of the spice combination on these pretzels for me.

These were a big hit on a day when there was plenty of snack food to choose from. Even people who aren’t into spicy foods liked them…although you will occasionally get a pretzel that seems to have absorbed more cayenne than any other spice. A winner!

Cooking with Your Friends: Dad’s Beef Barley Soup

I have to admit I am loathe to post this and knock the $100,000 post from the top of the blog. It’s such a large, lovely number. Congratulations again to all the Friends.

I cooked this at the behest of Facebook Friends looking for one pot, hearty soups for the winter. Even though we’re experiencing some spring right now, it was still winter when I made this. You should definitely keep it in mind for when the cold returns, whether that be in seven days or seven months!

This recipe calls for quick cooking barley, which I could not find at two local supermarkets. I precooked the barley. This worked fine but it meant I needed almost twice as much liquid called for in the recipe. Also if you are like me and automatically think “stew beef” when you are making soup, recalibrate yourself for this recipe–it definitely needs a beef that can survive quick cooking.

As you can see from the photo, this soup has loads of good vegetables and wholesome grains, in addition to the beef. With just a few ingredients to prepare, it was quick and easy–and it would be even quicker if you could find the right barley! My husband enjoyed it, saying that it was hearty and had nice layers of flavor. I’m not a beef lover, but I did enjoy this one. There’s a sprinkling of thyme in it that seems to work so wonderfully with the veggies.

Cooking with Your Friends: Indiana Pantry Soup

Due to popular demand, I sought out hearty, cold-weather foods for this week’s recipe. Indiana Pantry Soup, which calls for five pounds of potatoes, seemed like exactly the right recipe to tackle in the face of the monster storm predicted for Wednesday.

It’s super easy to put together with many ingredients that you probably have on hand: bacon, onions, celery, potatoes, and milk. (No need to fight the crowds at the grocery store!) After I peeled five pounds of potatoes, the soup came together quickly.

A better description of this dish might be mashed potato soup. (I don’t know that much about Indiana.) It was very hearty and sustaining–just the thing for filling up before you head out to chip away the ice in the driveway or for warming up after such work. The bacon imparts a smokiness, and I added celery salt to enhance the celery flavor. (I also tried to dress up my shot of the soup with a few celery leaves which quickly wilted; a food photographer, I am not!)

I like really bold flavors in my food, and this didn’t really fit the bill. (Maybe that’s the Indiana part?) I added a handful of sharp cheddar, which added a good kick. I’d guess this soup would be perfect for kids, but adults who like a little more zing could add anything you’d use to dress up a baked potato: salsa, hot sauce, garlic, or even ham. Of course, that would take it out of the realm of the pantry.  Either way, this soup will fill you up and keep you warm!

Cooking With Your Friends: Artichoke-Prosciutto Gratin

I’ve always been uncertain – how do you pronounce prosciutto? It is “pro-shoot-o”? Or “pro-shoot”? Either way, this recipe is a super easy and delicious Sunday dinner, especially when the temperature outside doesn’t even cross the freezing mark. 

First the pros:
There aren’t very many ingredients and they are fairly inexpensive.


Besides the cutting board, it’s a one bowl dish. Overall, it takes about 15 minutes to prepare and the oven does the rest!

The cons:
Probably only happens to me – my oven is not very reliable and didn’t stay at the proper temperature the whole time so the dish could’ve been a bit warmer for my taste. But obviously if you have a better working oven than mine, you should have no problems. Also, I felt like it was a smidge salty but that’s to be expected when you combine prosciutto, gorgonzola and canned artichokes.

All in all, served with some warm bread and a garden salad on the side, this dinner makes a fantastic weekday dinner when you’re in need of something quick. So if you haven’t tried it yet, flip to page 79 and dig in!

Cooking with Your Friends: Southern Corn Dip

This post is part of series where I–or someone–will cook each recipe in Cooking with Your Friends, the cookbook compiled by the Friends of the Haverford Township Free Library, and review it.

Southern Corn Dip

I’m not going to lie to you: I was put off by the ingredients for this one. I wasn’t even convinced after I had stirred it together and tasted it. It was a little soupy, and the sour cream seemed to dominate. I shouldn’t have worried.

This is one of those unusual concoctions that improves in the refrigerator. Definitely make ahead! When chilled, the dip coheres differently, and I tastes much better. This was popular: the kids ate it, the men ate it, the women ate it, the picky eaters ate it. I actually had to refill the dip bowl, and there were only eight of us eating it.

Buy the cookbook and try this one for your Super Bowl party. It won’t disappoint!

Cooking With Your Friends: Pumpkin Soup

This post it the first in a series that will appear here. I’ll–or someone will–cook each recipe in Cooking with Your Friends, the cookbook compiled by the Friends of the Haverford Township Free Library, and review it.

The raw materials; too dark this evening to capture the soup. Consider this a place holder.


Here’s what clinched it: “The trick is to realize it is really hard to ruin squash soup.” Those reassuring words from Janet Chrzan, nutritional anthropologist, Library Friend, and founder of the Oakmont Farmer’s Market, prompted me to take on her recipe for pumpkin soup.

It seemed only natural that I should buy the pumpkin at the Farmer’s Market, so I did. (I am kicking myself for not writing down the grower’s name.)

The first step, to skin and cube the pumpkin, reminded me why I don’t cook with pumpkin more often. It’s hard work, though once I switched to this style vegetable peeler, the rind came off more easily. The soup comes together effortlessly after that. Once it was cooked, I used an immersion blender to smooth the soup, though that step is optional. There’s no real measurement for the seasonings, and I was a bit worried after I threw in a palmful of chili powder, which is my customary definition of “to taste.” Would it overwhelm the pumpkin?

It was delicious! My husband found it to be a nice warming fall soup, and said the spices contrast with and set off the natural flavors of the pumpkin. I loved the surprise of the coconut milk under the flavors of pumpkin and chili.

Janet reports that the soup “has taken on more of a Southeast Asian tone,” and that was my cue for building dinner around this soup. I went with a “pan-Asian” theme and had edamame and store-bought shu mai and potstickers  to round out the meal.

With Halloween around the corner, it’s the perfect time of year for pumpkin soup. Try this recipe.