Food trends come and go but these recipes pass the test of time

By Bill Colvard -

Chicken enchilada casserole is a go-to weeknight dinner. All it needs is a salad of mixed baby greens to make it complete.

Bill Colvard | The News

Jessica Johnson gussies up devilled eggs with Niki’s Pickles.

Submitted photo | Jessica Johnson

The sushi burrito is proof enough that food, like everything else, is subject to trends. Sushi burritos, along with pressed juices, acai bowls and devilled eggs presented as their own dish, some of the other hot trends for 2015, have hopefully run their course and can be laid to rest.

The demise of bacon, as predicted by a Zagat survey, is undoubtedly premature. Bacon will never die. Some of 2015’s other big moments are perfectly welcome to move on into 2016. Siracha, cronuts, quinoa, nut butters, avocado toast and kale are all perfectly welcome in the new year, although to be fair, there are other greens out there besides kale.

But looking forward, what new and wonderful delights does 2016 promise to bring? Canned wine, for one thing. Yes, next year when one reaches down into the cooler in search of a cool one, instead of a Bud, there might be pop top cans of chardonnay or prosecco lurking in the cooler’s depths. Which might be an interesting pairing for one of 2016s other hot trends, “sophisticated” jerkies made from salmon, bison or chicken. Pool parties are about to get very interesting.

As silly as most food trends are, some of them do stick. Some even become regular dishes that are prepared over and over. The following recipes come from a totally random and completely unscientific sampling of readers of the Mount Airy News. They were asked the following question, “What food have you cooked over and over in 2015?”

Most of the recipes are straightforward and simple. All are quick and easy to prepare. Most invite substitutions. Use what you have on hand. A recipe for a regular rotation dish serves more as a guideline than a rigid blueprint. These are all qualities that come in very handy on a week night when supper is to be made and a big production is not desired. Trendy or not, these are some of the foods that fueled 2015.

Taco Soup

Tara Magee

5 cans various beans

2 cans corn

2 packages ranch dressing

2 packages taco seasoning

2 cans tomatoes

2 lbs ground beef.

Brown beef and drain, add all others without draining. Heat. Serve with corn chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

Sweet Potato Fries

Bridget Henderson

Peel sweet potatoes, cut them up like fries or cube them, put in baking dish, put enough coconut oil on to coat, salt and bake. They are delicious.

Devilled Eggs with Niki’s Pickles

Jessica Johnson

The recipe is pretty simple and I never measure it. I just take the yolk of a dozen boiled eggs and add Duke’s Mayo (never any other mayo) and salt and pepper. Then I chop up Niki’s Radish Pickles. You can buy them at The Living Room Coffeehouse and Winebar in Pilot Mountain. Add them, reserving about a quarter cup for garnish on the top. I also add just a tiny bit of the liquid from the radish jar. The scarlet red radishes look like little gems on top – so beautiful and delicious.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is an easy weekday casserole with a Tex-Mex feel that really has nothing to do with an enchilada. Feel free to adapt it to your taste and whatever is in your pantry. It can be as hot or as mild as you like. If your family is divided on the subject of spiciness, make it mild and pass hot salsa for the heat lovers.

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

18 small corn tortillas

1 small can tomato sauce

2 cans (15 oz.) diced tomatoes (The ones for chili with chipotle are good. Use hot or mild or a combo as per your preference.)

1 can black beans

1 can corn

2 cups grated cheese (Use Mexican blend, Monterrey Jack, cheddar , mozzarella, whatever you like or have on hand.)

Sour cream, optional garnish

Salsa, optional garnish

Smear the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Cut half of the tortillas in half and julienne them into 1/2 inch strips. Scatter them into the casserole. Cover with half of the chicken. Layer on half of the black beans, then half of the corn. Spread one can of the diced tomatoes over the top and cover with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers starting with the tortilla strips. (If you want the top to be extra crispy/crunchy, scatter a handful of Panko bread crumbs on top.) Bake at 375°F. until cheese is melted, bubbly and lightly browned. Salsa and sour cream are optional garnishes.

Three-Cup Chicken

This Taiwanese dish is ready in 30 minutes and substitutions can be made. If you don’t have rice wine, use what you have. Less authentic perhaps, but still good. Also, chicken thighs are a very economical alternative to the usual chicken breasts and are less likely to end up dry and rubbery.

3 tbsp. sesame oil

1 2-to-3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins, approximately 12

12 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 whole scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 dried red peppers or 1 tsp. red-pepper flakes

2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tbsp. unrefined or light brown sugar

½ cup rice wine

¼ cup light soy sauce

2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves or regular basil leaves

Heat a wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger, garlic, scallions and peppers, and cook until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes. Scrape the aromatics to the sides of the wok, add remaining oil and allow to heat through. Add the chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and crisping at the edges, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add sugar and stir to combine, then add the rice wine and soy sauce, and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat, then simmer until the sauce has reduced and started to thicken, approximately 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the basil and stir to combine. Serve with white rice.

Marinated Zucchini

More of a summer recipe than an all year one but it is so good while zucchini is in season that it deserves a place here.

Serves 2 to 4

5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 pound very small zucchini, trimmed and halved lengthwise


1/2 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar


A small handful fresh basil leaves, sliced

Working in batches as needed, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange the zucchini cut side down in one layer in the hot skillet and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Use a fork or tongs to turn the zucchini over, then cook them until tender, about 2 minutes, reducing the heat if the zucchini get too dark. Transfer the zucchini to a shallow dish and sprinkle with salt. Whisk together the garlic, vinegar, and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette over the zucchini and add the basil. Gently toss everything together and adjust the seasonings. Let the zucchini marinate at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Alternately, let marinate longer in the refrigerator. Tightly covered, marinated zucchini will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Tahini Roasted broccoli

Tahini, or sesame paste, can be challenging to find. It is available in Mount Airy at Lowe’s Foods or can be easily homemade with sesame seeds and a food processor. It’s also useful for homemade hummus.

Serves 2 to 4 as a side

2 tbsp. tahini, well stirred

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus more to serve

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Several grinds black pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 cups broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch florets

Preheat oven to 450° F. Place all of the ingredients except for the broccoli in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add broccoli and toss well to thoroughly coat. Scatter on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot for best flavor, squeezing a little extra lemon juice on top.

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

A cookie recipe that only uses four ingredients that are almost always in the average kitchen and can be made start to finish in a half hour is a handy recipe to have and one you will use over and over. As Don Nelson said when eating them, “These are really good. I know it’s just a peanut butter cookie but it’s a really good peanut butter cookie.”

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet and criss-cross with a fork. Bake at 325°F. for 15 minutes.

Homemade Marshmallows

Abbye Robinson Blackwelder

Blackwelder says her family made homemade marshmallows for the first time this year and though they haven’t had time to do it again, they were so good she is sure she will make them many more times in the coming year. Blackwelder got her recipe from Ina Garten.

3 packages unflavored gelatin

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and allow to sit while you make the syrup. Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. With a sieve, generously dust an 8 by 12-inch nonmetal baking dish with confectioners’ sugar. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top, and dust with more confectioners’ sugar. Allow to stand uncovered overnight until it dries out. Turn the marshmallows onto a board and cut them in squares. Dust them with more confectioners’ sugar.

Chicken enchilada casserole is a go-to weeknight dinner. All it needs is a salad of mixed baby greens to make it complete. enchilada casserole is a go-to weeknight dinner. All it needs is a salad of mixed baby greens to make it complete. Bill Colvard | The News

Jessica Johnson gussies up devilled eggs with Niki’s Pickles. Johnson gussies up devilled eggs with Niki’s Pickles. Submitted photo | Jessica Johnson

By Bill Colvard

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.

Nominate your favorite cook to share their love of food with readers of The Mount Airy News.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699, on Twitter @BillColvard.

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