Food & Drink

August 18, 2014

Stir Crazy: Sip a little vino to celebrate 30 years at Cheesekeeper

Join Cheesekeeper owner Diane Hamilton on Saturday as she celebrates 30 years in business with an anniversary celebration and wine-tasting from 1 to 5 p.m. If you've never been, the west-end Belleville shop is an excellent resource for everything from imported cheese and food products to wine and coffee. It's located in the Arcades Shopping Center, 6500 W. Main St.

Here's a big thank-you to Charlotte Diecker, of St. Libory. She called with a question and I ended up with a great recipe. Charlotte said the original recipe called for apples, but peaches work very well. One tip: Don't completely encase each peach quarter in dough; some of the juice needs to leak out to make this dessert taste good, she said.

Peach Dumplings

4 peaches, peeled and quartered

2 packages refrigerator crescent roll dough

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter, melted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 can Mountain Dew*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Unroll dough and separate pieces. You should have 16.

Wrap dough around each quarter; pinching completely closed is not necessary. Place in pan.

In a bowl, combine sugar, melted butter and cinnamon. Spoon over dumplings in pan.

Pour soda around edges of pan so as not to disturb the sugary mixture on top. Bake 45 minutes, or until brown.

*Charlotte and I talked about why Mountain Dew was specifically called for in this recipe and she thought that it would add to the sweetness. That's possible, but I also think that any white soda will work.

Cost-saver

Inexpensive thighs work exceptionally well when slow-cooked. They do not dry out and the dark meat imparts a much more flavorful dish.

Slow-Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken

1 package (28 ounces) boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 pouch (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix

1 jar (24 ounces) salsa

In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, toss chicken with half of the taco seasoning mix to coat evenly.

Top chicken with salsa. Stir until well-combined. Cover; cook on low setting 4 to 4 1/2 hours, or until chicken is tender.

Remove chicken from slow cooker to a bowl. Shred chicken with 2 forks. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker along with remaining taco seasoning mix.

Cover; cook on low 30 minutes longer. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.

Kid-friendly, one-pan meal

Looking for a new way to get the kids to eat dinner? Let them scoop it up with breadsticks or garlic bread. This simple recipe from Pillsbury made me say "Why didn't I think of this?" when I saw it. Here are the steps:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Take a 10- or 12- inch ovenproof skillet and brown and drain a pound of ground beef or turkey.

3. Add 1 1/2 cups of pasta or marinara sauce; stir.

4. Top with 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella or other family favorite cheese.

5. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and filling is hot.

6. If desired, change oven setting to broil during last 3 to 4 minutes of baking to brown cheese.

7. Serve with warm breadsticks or garlic bread for dipping and a tossed salad. Makes 8 servings.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail, sboyle@bnd.com; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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