Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


June 1, 2014

05/27/2014: Make it easy on yourself with tips from the Quick Meal Queen

ASHLAND — As summer approaches, we all need a break from the kitchen, but if you’re the cook of the family, how do you manage it?

Chef Natashja Szortyka is known as the Quick Meal Queen. She became an independent food consultant after graduating from Stetson University as a theater major. While in college, rather than purchasing her school’s meal plan, she preferred to cook meals for herself and her friends, earning her nickname.

She suggests these recipes as easy spring/summer snacks.


38.4-ounce bag Mama Lucia mini-size meatballs

1 cup ketchup

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup whiskey

Put all four ingredients in a slow cooker and heat on low for four to six hours or high for two to three hours.


1 tube crescent roll dough

16 to 24 Mama Lucia mini-size meatballs

Grated Parmesan cheese

Spaghetti sauce

Preheat the oven according to package directions on the crescent dough. Unroll and separate all of the dough triangles. Put the meatballs in the microwave for 1 minute to thaw. Spread a strip of spaghetti sauce along the shortest side of the triangle, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and place 2-3 meatballs on top. Roll up starting at the shortest side of the triangle. Place rolls on a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet and bake according to crescent roll instructions.


You know you’re going to make zucchini bread this summer because we always have a bumper crop of the green stuff. Here is a good, solid version of the old favorite. I love to spread softened cream cheese on mine.


3 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1⁄3 cup water

2 cups grated zucchini

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven at 350⁰F.

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, nutmeg, baking soda, cinnamon and sugar.

In a separate bowl combine the oil, eggs, water, zucchini and lemon juice.

Mix ingredients from both bowls, add nuts and fold in.

Use a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan sprayed with nonstick spray to bake for approximately one hour.

Use the method of the toothpick — If toothpick comes out dry the inside of the cake is cooked.

 Remove from oven and let stand out on a wire rack for about 10 minutes then turn upside down to remove the zucchini bread.

Let the bread cool off and serve.


Nellie Rickey’s Bacon Jam Spread, shared by justapinch.com, will be a great addition to any breakfast or brunch menu. Serve this along with biscuits, toasted bread rounds or even cheese and your guests will be impressed.


Nellie Rickey, Yuma, Ariz.

1 pound smoked bacon (add liquid smoke if  desired)

4 cloves chopped garlic

1 medium onion, sliced

3 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed

Tabasco sauce to taste

1 cup strong coffee

1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar

1⁄4 cup maple syrup

Salt and pepper

Extra water

In a non stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Using a pair of scissors cut into 1 inch pieces.

Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.

Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the water.

Simmer for 2 hours adding 1⁄4 of a cup of water every 25 or 30 minutes and continuously stirring.

When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor.

Pulse for 2 or 3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam.” If you want a more paste-like consistency, continue to blend until completely smooth.


The fifth annual “Get Wild with Wild Rice” recipe contest, sponsored by the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, is under way.

 Recipes will go head to head in a taste test by the council’s culinary specialists. Participants have three opportunities to win.

First, up to 16 finalists will be selected, awarded a wild rice prize pack and their recipes will be featured in the council’s annual recipe brochure. Second, the $500 Grand Prize will be awarded to the winning recipe as determined by our celebrity judge during a taste test hosted by Le Cordon Bleu. Finally, recipes from finalists will be posted in September for an online contest celebrating National Rice Month. America will vote for their favorite recipe and one winner will receive a $250 People’s Choice Award. The deadline for recipe submission is June 15. Visit mnwildrice.org for full contest details.

 For a free copy of the council’s latest recipe brochure, “Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Recipes and Answers to Often Asked Questions,” featuring contest winning recipes and other wild rice favorites, including soups, appetizers, salads, entrées and side dishes, send a self-addressed-stamped-envelope to: Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, Newest Recipes, 4630 Churchill St., No. 1, St. Paul, MN 55126


While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re

looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.

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