Cooks Exchange

Try some cheesy, crispy and comforting new recipes

Grilling, making cold sandwiches or eating out has been the standard fare at my house this summer.

As I often have said, my gas stove heats the house too much. I also have a dinosaur air conditioner that, thank goodness, keeps on running but does not cool as well as I would like.

Last week, I broke this habit. I prepared three recipes that were new to me, two of which had to have oven time. Those had to be good ones to rate being baked.

I needed a dish for a study meeting and one for church potluck. Since my freezer has plenty of yellow squash, I opted for a squash casserole, which packed flavor but with little prep time. This recipe comes from a 30-year-old cookbook from Park Avenue Methodist Church in Orange, Texas.

My favorite of the three was a baked Italian beef sandwich made with olive salad, cream cheese spread with garden vegetables and Swiss cheese. The original recipe called for provolone, but I didn’t have that on hand. Baking time is 30 minutes, but prep time is less than 10 minutes. The hot Italian beef melt is a Better Homes and Gardens recipes. At least five different variations of this baked sandwich can be made, simply use the meats, veggies and breads that you like. Again, it’s only 30 minutes of baking time.

Because there are just two of us, I cut the recipe in half, so we would have enough sandwiches for dinner and lunch the next day.

The third was my daughter’s favorite: Crispy tempura green beans. I wanted a side dish for the sandwiches, but didn’t want the usual fries, coleslaw or chips. I received a fried green bean recipe in an e-mail, but I wanted to make it lighter. I added cornstarch to the flour-club soda batter and a little baking powder, too.

Earlier this year, I treated myself to a really good deep fryer. I had always wanted one but never bought one. I’m in love with it; foods are crispy and oil drains off food well. I also use paper towels to trap any extra oil. The deep fryer did great on the green beans and didn’t heat the kitchen. I want to try shrimp and other veggies with this batter.

So, here goes with these three recipes. The squash casserole was a hit at both dinners. Sour cream gives it the kick.

Chicken-fried steak

“I have a tip for you about chicken-fried steak,” Carol Ryan said. “I don’t remember where I read about this, but about a month ago I tried this. I bought thin cut ribeye steaks to make this with.

“I made it the same way as using cube steak or round, and I can tell you this was the most tender and delicious chicken-fried steak I have ever made. I also made the white gravy with it,” Ryan said.

Readers, if you know of a Coast restaurant that serves a good chicken-fried steak, please let me know. Ron Hellyer is another reader looking for one.

Fresh figs

“Thanks for the fig recipes that I’ve read about in the Bradenton Herald (Florida),” said Karen Beach of Anna Maria, Florida. “Our previous house in Virginia had wonderful fig trees that produced in abundance. We were spoiled. We have planted a fig tree in our Florida home, but until it grows, we need a supplier.”

Do any of my Florida readers know where Beach can purchase fresh figs? If so, please let me know ASAP. The season is winding down.

Lost pudding

Vida Risk of Ocean Springs has lost her favorite banana pudding recipe that she has used for years.

“I can’t imagine how it got away from me,” Risk said. “The pudding part was cooked and topped with meringue.

“It is my brother-in-law’s favorite banana pudding,” Risk said. “He will be 97 on Dec. 7, and I haven’t been able to make it for him for a long time. I sure hope you can help find the recipe for me.”

Readers, I know you guys have lots of banana pudding recipes. Please share them with Risk so she can make this dessert for her brother-in-law.

Back to classes

Where has the summer gone? School resumes this week. That means back to the hectic schedules and youngsters not eating cafeteria food or at least mine never did. I always tried to pack my daughter a lunch she might actually eat. Sometimes I was successful and others not.

Readers, do you pack school lunches or brown bag lunches for work? If so, share your ideas with fellow readers. All of us could use some fresh approaches.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net or Cook’s Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.

SQUASH CASSEROLE

2 pounds yellow squash

1 small onion, chopped

Salt, pepper and Tony Chachere’s seasoning to taste

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 (10-3/4 ounce) can reduced fat cream of chicken soup

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

2 tablespoons chopped pimento

1/2 cup melted butter

1 (8-ounce) package herb seasoned stuffing mix

Cook squash and onion until tender in small amount boiling salted water; drain and season with salt, pepper and Tony Chachere’s and 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in chicken soup, sour cream and pimento.

Combine 1/2 cup butter and herb seasoned stuffing mix, stirring until well blended. Combine half stuffing mix and squash mixture. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. Top with remaining stuffing mix. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

HOT ITALIAN BEEF MELTS

Better Homes and Gardens

12 (3-inch) sour dough rolls, split

1 pound thinly sliced deli-style roast beef (I chose Cajun roast beef for extra kick)

1-1/2 cups olive salad

12 slices provolone or mozzarella cheese (I used Swiss)

1 (8-ounce) tub cream cheese spread with garden vegetables

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Filling: Layer roll bottoms with roast beef, olive salad and top with cheese slice. Spread cut sides of roll tops with cream cheese with garden vegetables.

Drizzle: Combine olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning and red pepper. Stir to combine and drizzle over prepared sandwiches.

Bake, covered, 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

CRISPY TEMPURA GREEN BEANS

1/2 pound fresh green beans, washed, drained and trimmed

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 -2 cups club soda, depending on how thick you want batter to be

Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and club soda into a batter. Dip green beans into batter and fry in deep-fryer or in a deep skillet filled with about 2 inches of oil. If using deep fryer, do not crowd basket or beans will stick together. Cook 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve with prepared horseradish sauce or any dressing you prefer.

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