Pizza Olympics

24 Jul

Finally, an Olympic sport I can participate in. Sponsored by the South Philly Review and held at the Penns Landing Caterers, the 6th Annual Pizza Olympics drew a huge and hungry crowd.


More than 10 local pizza parlors were represented in this amazing pizza party. For the ticket price of $15 a hungry pizza eater had the pleasure of enjoying slices from every one of them.

Let the eating begin…

The pleasant lads of Powelton Pizza, from whom I received my first slice.


Each parlor had their own twist-from Mexican to Greek, square or round, thick or thin crust. There was even a macaroni and cheese crust from the friendly folks at Flat Iron.


My favorite was the pizza from J&J’s of South Philly. This was authentic pizza. No gimmicks just great. And the wonderful staff made sure my pizza needs were met. I just had to look at a slice and it was mine.


What more could a girl want?

I went from stall to stall, desperately trying to try them all, although by the end it was approaching impossible to even look at another slice. Well, maybe not. There is something inherently attractive about a slice of pizza. But my stomach refused what my eyes craved. Others were able to go the distance…


At the end you could fill out the ballot for your favorites in several categories including crust, sauce, creative topping and overall best. I tried to be honest but my heart was won over by J&J’s. I filled them in for more than one category. If that was wrong, I didn’t care.

In the end, there are no losers at the Pizza Olympics. Just so much pizza, you have to dance (if you’re not too full)


Check out the South Philly Review site for more info…–267248211.html

Dead Duck Day

6 Jun

Holidays are strange things – often they are celebrations of odd and even morbid events from the past. Dead Duck day is no exception. The birth place of this holiday is Rotterdam where the original dead duck was “enjoyed”. The whole Ig Noble prize winning story behind this holiday is described in the video below. Be forewarned, it contains talk of homosexual necrophilia amongst ducks.

So after watching the video I know you are eager to make this day your own. I did by taking a trip to The Mandarin Garden in nearby Willow Grove, Pa for a meal of Crispy Duck with a goji berry sauce..

duckThoroughly enjoyable, although not in the same fashion as the Rotterdam duck.


Or maybe you like to do it yourself. Get down and ducky in your own kitchen. Here’s a recipe that will suit your needs. From the Gas Cookery Book published by the Hong Kong and China Gas Co., Ltd. (1966) – so you know it’s going to be a real treat. I’ve taken the liberty of copying the page as I think it’s nifty having the English and Chinese versions side by side.

hkduck1 (2) hkduck2 (2) hkduck3


What next on this grand occasion? A drink you say? What’s better to wash down your duck dinner than with a Fuzzy Duck cocktail? It’s make you feel all kinds of fuzzy.

Fuzzy Duck

1 oz Malibu coconut Rum
1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
1 oz brandy


Pour all ingredients into an old-fashioned glass 1/4 filled with ice cubes. Stir well, and serve.
And while you’re sipping, relax and enjoy the Homosexual Necrophiliac Duck Opera
Still not enough duck for you? Well what could be better to top the holiday off than a delicious slice of dead duck cake?
dead duck 2
All the credit for this cake goes to njkitchenangel on the Wilton Discussion forum
Happy Dead Duck Day!!!
Update: This year’s Dead Duck Day Message was by Linda Lombardi, author of Animals Behaving Badly year’s dead duck message.  Her acknowledgement of the importance of dinner is both endearing commendable.


Having a Ball

31 May

Want a terrific dessert to wow your guests at your summer picnic? A sweet treat that will stir the taste buds as well as the conversation is what’s needed. And in the June 1961 issue of Family Circle, I found the answer to your problem – the Beach Ball Cake.


ball (2)

I know what you’re thinking – this is magnificent, but how do I make it? You only need to get out your bowls, spoons and boxed mix (this is from the 60’s after all) and follow the directions below…


Beach Ball Cake

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes

Prepare 1 package of your favorite flavor angel-food cake mix, following label directions; pour batter into ungreased 12-cup ovenproof mixing bowl. Bake in a slow oven (325 degrees) 55 minutes, or until top is golden and a long, thin metal skewer  inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn cake upside down to cool, resting edge of bowl on three cans or glasses; cool completely. When cake has cooled, make Fluffy Frosting (recipe below). Loosen  cake around edge of bowl with a knife; turn out, rounded side up, on a wire rack. Mark cake into 6 wedge shaped sections with the sharp point of a knife; frost sections with alternating white and yellow Fluff Frosting. Tint  1-1/3 cups flaked coconut yellow by shaking with 1/4 tsp of water and a few drops of yellow food coloring in a jar with tight fitting cover; sprinkle over yellow sections. Sprinkle 1-1/3 cups plain flaked coconut over white sections. Decorate top with candy peppermint patty “button” fastened with a  dot of frosting. Makes 12 servings.

Fluffy Frosting

Combine 2 unbeaten egg whites and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar in medium sized bowl; beat with rotary beater or electric mixer until egg whites stand in firm peaks. Combine two tablespoons  light corn syrup, 2-1/2 tablespoons water, and 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla in a cup; add alternately with 4 cups (1 pound) sifted 10X (confectioners’ powdered) sugar to egg white mixture, beating well after each addition, until frosting is creamy stiff. Spoon half into second bowl and tint yellow with a few drops of yellow food coloring; leaving remaining half white. Makes enough to frost 1 twelve-cup-bowl cake.


It’s bound to be a hit!


And from the same magazine, a contest from Orange Crush to make animal lovers cringe…


Yes any orange soda lover, regardless of mental stability, can have a chance to win a live, cuddly cocker spaniel puppy! (I can’t begin to fathom how they sent out the top prizes) Let’s hope a greater force had bestowed upon the undeserving the third prize – the greatest hits of Tony Bennett album. (“a $3.98 value” the ad exclaims. Or in today’s market – 50 cents at Goodwill)



Life of Pie

1 Apr

map6 Leesburg, VA

Yes, yes, yes! Whatever you think you will get out of an enticing looking place like this, you will. And more.

First, you’ll want atmosphere. You’ll want a place that not only sells pie, but embodies pie. And, if you’re the type of person, like me, who craves locally owned places with character, charisma as well spectacular food, your radar is always switched on for that hidden gem. Driving through Leesburg, VA on a wet Sunday morning, I was desperate yet hopeful. Like a shark in shallow water, I was ready to pounce. (ok, not exactly a shark but imagine the type of person you’d be if you woke up to the watery inefficacy of a hotel room coffeemaker’s coffee. Sharks are far less aggressive than the caffeine deprived) When I saw Mom’s Apple Pie Company, I nearly drove through the front window in my exuberance. When I went in an saw a ceiling covered in pie tins, I knew was on the right path.


After this you’ll want someone nice to sell you a pie (and coffee).  We were fortunate to be assisted by Mom’s delightful daughter Clancy.


Not only does she have a radiant smile, not only can she bake amazing cookies (I would have had a picture of one of her freshly made Monster Cookies if my companion hadn’t scarfed it down) but she can sing. I mean really sing. Not just top score on Rockband but really, really sing…

The Mom of Mom’s Apple Pie Company is also a marvel; vibrant, intelligent and passionate about what she puts into her pies.

Then you’ll want pie. Not any pie. But gorgeous pie. Not the kind of pie you buy in the supermarket that might look friendly enough but leaves you feeling disappointed afterwards like a blind date. These pies are the pies you’ve been waiting to meet all your life.


And not only are the pies gorgeous, but the owners grow the strawberries, rhubarb and blackberries that go into these pies.

See their website…

I would have had the blackberry pie, in fact I did possess a blackberry pie for the briefest of moments but gave it to my parents. They don’t share very nicely. I heard it was delicious.

Still, knowing the devious parentage I have, I bought my own individual slice…


I chose a slice of the blueberry crumb. The crumb had divine pieces of pecans mixed in. Happiness on a fork!

(For those who don’t like pie or who are just hungry, they also have cookies, quiche, cupcakes, breads and Buckeyes. I briefly tasted the peanut buttery heaven of one of their Buckeyes before above mentioned companion inhaled the rest of it.)

Don’t wait any longer. Stop passing by and not going in. Go in. Buy pie.

Don’t live in Leesburg, VA but want pie? You’re in luck.  Order online. Order now.




Double Dog Delightful – Retro Dog Dinner

7 Feb


It’s hard to imagine someone as thrilled as I to have a meal made from all those inglorious cookbooks from the 60’s and 70’s. And yet at Hot Diggity, the happening hot dog restaurant on South Street in the great city of Philly,  they made not only a meal from these recipes, but a stellar banquet of hot dog laden retro delights.

Appetizers to start…

1. Hot Doggities – tempting pieces of hot dog enrobed in cornflakes


2. Hot Dog Olives – olives stuffed with a cream cheese and hot dog mix

3. Glazed Hot Dogs – your favorite salad dressing (French, Ranch or Honey Mustard) on a hot dog


4. Cuke and Hot Dog Spread

IMG_2392 (tres magnifique!)

Salads followed…

1. In the Pink  Potato Salad – potato salad colored naturally with red beet juice

IMG_2394 (2)

2. Apple and Hot Dog Salad -a macaroni salad with…well the name says it all

3. PERFECTION SALAD – this was a work of retro recipe art – a medley of salad vegetables encased in a beautiful work of Jell-o.

You’ll need two photos to really feel like you’ve seen it properly

IMG_2397 (one of the top dogs explaining about this dream of a salad)

IMG_2398 (2) (up close and tempting – notice the attractive radish garnishes)

And now, the Entree….

Oriental Hot Dog Casserole – back in the 70’s Chinese food was all the rage for experimental housewives looking to add some foreign flavor to their meals. (this mostly meant adding water chestnuts and little those little corn cobs to your recipes) That this is also a casserole meant it was both easy to make and exotic!

IMG_2400 (2)(even the serving dish is retro!)

Specialty of the House…

Of course you want to spoil your guests when you’re having them over for dinner and the staff at Hot Diggity was no exception. This main dish was a wonder to behold…

Hot Dogs in Fruited Brandy Sauce (so impressive!)

IMG_2399 (2)  A luscious dish gorgeously presented.

And when you think you can’t eat any more, there’s always room for…


Berry and lime Jell-o Mold


Want some hot dog fun of your very own? Hot Diggity does more with hot dogs than you could ever imagine. See their website for more…

or go to their facebook page to check out their latest events…

Hot Diggity

20 Jan

Just a quickie…

You love the 70’s. You really love the 70’s cookbooks. And you super really love those wild 70’s recipes that use hotdogs. Then this is for you…


Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 at 8 pm

630 South St, Phila., PA


Can you resist such a stellar menu? …

First Course:
Glazed hot dogs
Hot “diggities”
Cuke and hot dog spread
Hot dog olives

Second Course:
Asian Hot Dog Casserole
Hot dogs in fruited brandy sauce

Third Course:
“In the pink” potato and hot dog salad
Hot dog apple salad

Fourth Course:
Citrus and berry Jello mold


More info and details for making reservations on these sites….

Bon Voyage Professor

20 Jan

russell (photo from the Improbable Research website)

I first learned of the death of actor Russell Johnson from the Improbable Research website. They recounted a moving story of how Mr Johnson, better known as the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, made an appearance at the Ig Nobel prize ceremony, then held at MIT, back in 1993. The article states, “Mr Johnson told us he was fearful that people in the audience would think badly of him for pretending (in the TV series) that he was a scientist. We all assured him that, to the contrary, people were thrilled at the chance to be in the same room as him.” And true to the author, Marc Abrahams’ words, “When I introduced him on stage, the audience-many of whom were MIT and Harvard students, faculty and staff- went utterly wild with joy and tears.”

(read the full story at

The story was touching and sweet. And I thought it was fitting to do A Haunted Fondue Farewell to such a lovely man. And in the Haunted Fondue style, I present recipes from “Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook“, by Dawn Wells, the actress who played that beloved girl-next-door. The following three recipes were give to her by Russell Johnson and his wife Connie.



Professor’s Miracle Rescue Slaw

1 small head green cabbage, diced into 1/4-inch dice (about 4 to 5 cups)

3 or 4 green onions, including tops, chopped into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 cup cucumber, finely diced

6 radishes, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 cup salad dressing


In a large bowl combine the cabbage, onions, cucumber, radishes, carrot, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl thin the salad dressing with a little milk. Toss the dressing into the salad. Chill for a couple of hours. Makes 8 t0 10 servings.


Roy Hinkley’s Spanish Rice (how many of you remember the Professor’s name on the show was Roy Hinkley? No, me neither)

2 cups brown Basmati rice

4 cups chicken broth

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch green onions including tops, chopped

1 cup chopped parsely

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 16-ounce can tomatoes, crushed

2 7-ounce cans diced green chiles

In a large pot bring the rice and broth to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and saute the green onions, parsley, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and diced green chilies. Mix well and transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with green salad. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Professor’s Apples Archimedes

6 to 8 tart apples (Granny Smith or Pippin), peeled and sliced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup raisins

Hot water

2 cups any bran cereal or shredded wheat

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup orange juice


In a large bowl combine the sliced apples, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon. In a small bowl soak the raisins until plump in hot water to cover. Drain and discard the water. Add raisins and bran cereal to the apple mixture. Add the melted butter and mix. Pour the mixture into a buttered, shallow  baking dish, and pour the orange juice over all. Dot with butter. Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until brown on top, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings.







Merry cheXmas, part 3

24 Dec


(photo taken from Chex, The Partymakers)

Chex for dessert?! What a surprise! That’s what your guests will squeal with unbridled delight. When they thought there couldn’t possibly be anything else you could do with Chex, you surprise them with some sweet afters.

So let’s not keep them waiting. Here’s the recipes….

Christmas Chex Crispies

3 tablespoons of Blue Bonnet margaarine

36 regular OR 3-1/2 cps miniature marshmallows (the recipe was very specific about capitalizing the “or”. Don’t you dare go adding both!)

6 cups Rice Chex cereal crushed to 4 cups

1/3 cup chopped red and green glace cherries

1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional) – but only a fool would opt out

In a large saucepan, melt margarine and marshmallows over low heat. Stir constantly until marshmallows are melted and mixture is well blended. Remove from heat.

Stir in Chex, cherries and nuts (don’t say you don’t want them). Mix to coat all pieces well. With spoon, press into greased 13x9x2 inch pan, or form into Christmas Crispies:

*Press into greased Christmas tree pan. Let set. Remove from pan and decorate.

*Form 1/4 cup mixture into:

-small wreaths. Decorate with red/green glace cherries.

-small balls. Roll in coconut.

*Form into two wreaths. Decorate with small gumdrops.

(From Chex, The Partymakers)


Gingerbread Cupcakes

1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons frozen orange juice

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup molasses

1/2 cup water

1-1/2 cups Bran Chex (substitute how you wish)

1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1-1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use paper baking cups or grease twelve muffin cups.

Thoroughly combine cream cheese and orange juice concentrate. Set aside.

Combine eggs, molasses and water. Stir in Bran Chex. Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix butter and sugar until creamy. Stir together dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture alternately with Chex mixture. Stir just until moistened.

Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Divide cream cheese. mixture among muffins. Top with remaining batter, sealing cheese in center.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.

(From The Bran Chex plan for good cooking)


Enjoy! Merry cheXmas everyone!

Merry cheXmas, part 2

23 Dec

As I write this I’ve got my latest Chex recipe baking in the oven. Tonight I’m making Tangy Meatloaf. I must admit, I’ve made some adjustments. First, I used Corn Chex instead of Wheat. The shop had no Wheat Chex and I didn’t fancy substituting it for Chocolate Chex. Plus I already had the Corn Chex in the house from making the garlic breadsticks. Also, you’ll notice the recipe calls for garlic, pepper and seasoned salt. I used Adobo. It had all those ingredients in one handy container. So in it went.

Now as my meatloaf bakes, I’ll share the recipe for this and another main dish….

The Main Course

Tangy Meatloaf

I quote from the book- “Wheat Chex and an unusual seasoning blend give this basic meatloaf a special flavor”. If the garlic sticks were anything to go by, I’d wager that flavor is Chex.

1/2 cup catsup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

4 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1- 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 egg

2 tablespoons finely chopped green pepper

1- 1/2 cups Wheat Chex cereal crushed to 3/4 cup

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

In a large bowl combine catsup, brown sugar and dry mustard. Remove 4 tablespoons of mixture and reserve for topping. To remaining mixture add Worcestershire, garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper and egg. Blend well. Stir in green pepper and Chex. Add ground beef. Mix well.

Shape into loaf in shallow pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes. Remove from oven and spread top with reserved catsup mixture. Bake additional 15 minutes. Makes about 6 servings.

(from Chex, The Natural Way to Good Cooking, 1975)

Hot out of the oven. Fire Claus has the situation under control….


Now meatloaf for Christmas may not be to everyone’s liking. For some Christmas dinner is all about turkey. This one is for you…

Layered Turkey Bake

3 cups Rice Chex cereal crushed to 1-1/2 cups

2 tablespoons of Blue Bonnet margarine, melted

1/8 teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup

1-1/4 cups evaporated milk

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1-1/4 seasoned salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

3 cups chopped cooked turkey

1/3 cup chopped ripe olives

5 oz lasagna noodles (6 noodles) cooked

2/3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Combine Chex crumbs. margarine, 1/8 teaspoon oregano and Parmesan cheese. Set aside. Combine soup, milk, onion powder, seasoned salt, parsley flakes  and 1/8 teaspoon oregano. Stir in turkey and olives.

In a 2 quart oblong baking dish, layer in order, one half the noodles, soup mixture and cheese. Repeat. Top with Chex crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Makes 6 large servings.

(From, Chex, The Partymakers, 1983)

Merry cheXmas

18 Dec


What do you think of, when you think of Chex? Party mix? Anything else? Probably not. Unless you are like me and grew up with a never ending supply of Wheat Chex in the kitchen cupboard. There was always Chex in my formative years. Every day, day after day, year after year. Until my siblings and I moved out. Then my parents never bought another box of Chex. I’m still trying to figure out the significance.

So, with decades of Chex literally under my belt, it would fitting to return to Chex at this holiday time of year. Therefore, in the run up to Christmas, I will share with you recipes for an entire Christmas (or shall i say cheXmas) dinner with Chex in every recipe. And because my cookbooks are as nearly old as I am, I’ll be sharing recipes that may call for a discontinued flavor of Chex. Please feel free to substitute it with a current flavor.

CheXmas Dinner


Holiday Casserole Stuffing

3 cups Wheat Chex

1 package (7 oz) cube stuffing mix (herb-seasoned)

1 cup diced celery with leaves (the recipe calls for leaves, who am I to say?)

1/2 cup diced onion

1/4 cup and 1/2 cup Blue Bonnet Margarine

2 cups chicken bouillon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon sage

Combine Wheat Chex and stuffing mix in large bowl. Set aside. Saute celery and onion in 1/4 margarine until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour over Chex mixture. Toss lightly to combine. Turn into 2-quart casserole. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

(From Chex, The Partymakers)

Garlic Sticks

2 cups Corn Chex cereal crushed to 3/4 cup

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1 can (8 oz) refrigerated biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine Chex, garlic powder and salt. Add butter. Mix thoroughly. Put part of crumbs on waxed paper. Cut each biscuit in half. Roll in crumbs to form sticks 8 inches long. (Crumbs will work into dough.) Add remaining crumbs as needed.

Place on baking sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 20 sticks.

(From Chex, The Natural Way to Good Cooking)

I tried making the above recipe (see photo). Not exactly the 8 inches the recipe suggested. (insert male anatomy joke of choice). But, despite the lack of size, they were enjoyable.