3 Times Thursday - Recipes for Summer BBQs and Picnics

It's just about time to start planning your Memorial Day menu. For this week's 3 Times Thursday, we give you three ideas for all your summer BBQs and picnics. What makes them great holiday weekend recipes? They're super easy to make, they feed a crowd, and they can be served at room temperature. Happy Almost Summer!

#3. Easy Orzo Salad - A really simple but oh, so tasty pasta salad.


1 lb. orzo
1/2 lb. crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons fresh basil
1 tablespoon basil oil or plain olive oil

*since it's too early for garden tomatoes, substitute some sun-drieds

Prepare the orzo according to package directions. When it is done, drain it and rinse it well with cold water. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

#2. Steakhouse Skewers - Only three ingredients, plus a toothpick!


1/2 pound deli roast beef, sliced
4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese
1 pound green seedless grapes

Fold bleu cheese into a small slice of roast beef, and skewer with a toothpick on top of a grape.

#1. Fritos Dessert Bars - Crunchy, salty, sweet, and sticky plus everyone's favorite combo - chocolate and peanut butter. Added bonus? No baking involved!


1 10.5-ounce bag Fritos corn chips
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips

Spray a 9X13 baking pan with cooking spray. Empty Fritos into a large bowl. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from heat and add peanut butter; stir until smooth. Pour mixture over Fritos and gently stir to coat. Pour into prepared pan and using wax paper, press down to spread evenly into the pan. Put chocolate chips in a small zip-lock bag. Microwave for 30 second spurts to melt. Cut off a corner of the bag and drizzle over the Fritos bars. Allow to set, then cut into squares.


3 Times Thursday - Dishes for National Egg Month

On Thursdays, we like to give you three recipes that center around a common theme; we call it "3 Times Thursday." Since May is National Egg Month, today we offer you three of our more unique ways to cook eggs. This month, let's celebrate what is possibly the most versatile ingredient there is! Cheers to the humble egg!

#3. Fried Egg Sandwich Nachos: This yummy dish has all the makings of a fried egg sandwich (eggs, bacon, cheese), but is in nacho form, sort of like an American-style huevos rancheros.


20-24 nacho chips
3 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
3 eggs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 slices American cheese

Lay out the nacho chips onto an aluminum-foil-covered baking sheet. In a large skillet, cook the bacon pieces until crispy. Drain onto a paper towel, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet, then sprinkle over the chips. Return the skillet and bacon fat to high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook to your liking (we did them sunny-side-up because they will cook more under the broiler). Slide the eggs onto the nachos. Cut the cheese into strips and lay the strips over the nachos. Heat the broiler to high and broil the nachos until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked. Slide the nachos onto a plate and enjoy!

#2. Baked Eggs with Thyme: Fluffy, flavorful eggs with lots of herby flavor, perfect for dipping your toast points.


4 large eggs
4 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place rack approximately six inches below heat and preheat broiler. Take two small bowls and crack two eggs into each bowl, taking care not to break the yolks. Place two oven-safe dishes on a baking sheet. Pour 2 tablespoons of half and half and 1/2 tablespoon of butter in each dish. Place these under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until they are bubbling hot. Remove from the oven and quickly pour the two cracked eggs into each dish. Sprinkle with the thyme, parmesan, salt and pepper, and return to the oven. Broil for 4-5 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are cooked. Allow to set for a minute then serve, either in the baking dish or by carefully taking them out (as we did), with your favorite breakfast side dishes.

#1. Shakshuka: Israeli eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. Sexy spiciness. Eat with toasted pita!


1/4 cup olive oil
onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon CT salemme pepper
garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon hot paprika
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Heat oil in a large skillet (we used our paella pan) over medium-high heat. Add onions and crushed pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for six minutes until soft and slightly browned. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes with liquid, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce to medium-low, stir and make six wells in the thick sauce. Crack eggs over wells, cover the pan, and cook for about five minutes, or until yolks have set to desired consistency. Uncover, and baste the eggs with a light coating of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the feta throughout the pan, turn off the heat, and let sit for 1-2 minutes.  Serve right out of the pan with toasted pita bread and a side of home-fried potatoes.


Taste of Manchester: Steve's Bagels

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2016 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held TOMORROW from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2016) for more information.

New York native Steve DiGiorgio has brought New York style bagels to the City of Village Charm. He opened Steve's Bagels in the former Sugar Shack on Center Street at the end of 2015, and Manchester residents have been talking about it since.

Steve's Bagels are made on site daily, in batches throughout the day, so they are always fresh. It takes 18 hours to complete the process - from making the dough to letting it proof to rolling, kettle-boiling, and finally, baking the bagels. Popular flavors include the everything bagel, cranberry orange bagel, and the French toast bagel (which is a cinnamon-raisin bagel drizzled with molasses and sprinkled with brown sugar). There are seasonal/holiday specials such as rainbow swirl bagels for Easter and green bagels for St. Patrick's Day. And Steve is always trying out new flavors. 

Need a schmear for your bagel? Steve's makes 14 flavors of cream cheese, like cinnamon walnut apple, bacon, and blueberry. The flavor combinations are endless!

Steve's is also a deli, with Boar's Head meats and cheeses which can be made into sandwiches using rolls or bagels for bread. You can design your own sandwich or choose from one of Steve's signature specialties, like the customer fave Queen Leslie (low sodium turkey, bacon, mayo and lettuce on an Asiago pesto bagel). These are served with chips and a pickle. Their sandwich salads (tuna, chicken, egg salad) are made in-house. There's a new pepperoni-stuffed bread that employees say they "can't keep in stock."

A lovely woman named Carol handles the non-bagel baking, so Steve's offers homemade cookies, muffins, banana bread, and other goodies. There are also bags of bagel chips that come in various flavors.

This year is Steve's Bagels first year joining the Taste of Manchester, so those few residents who haven't gotten to taste Steve's NY-style bagels yet will be able to tomorrow night at the 7th Annual Taste of Manchester

Steve's Bagels is located at 150 Center Street. Their phone number is 860.432.2223, and they are open daily. Check their website here for hours and the menu. You can call in or fax orders and pick up orders at the convenient drive-through. Corporate accounts and delivery are available.


We Like-ah Wewalka!

Have you ever used that not-to-be-named-brand's refrigerated dough-in-a-can? While the popping noise the can makes is fun, and people certainly do some culinarily creative things using that dough, personally we've never entirely loved the resulting pizza crusts, breadsticks, biscuits or croissants. We always found them to have a certain heavy, chewy, tough doughiness rather than the desired crustiness or flakiness we crave. So we hardly ever buy refrigerated dough.

Then a few weeks ago, we received an email asking if we'd like to be visited by the Wewalka Wagon. And we were like, "Sure! Who wouldn't?" Then we wondered exactly what a "Wewalka Wagon" was. So we did what people do now, which is to Google "Wewalka" and we found that Wewalka is a family-run European brand of refrigerated bakery-style dough that was introduced in the US in 2015. They make croissant, puff pastry, bistro-style (thin) pizza, and family style (thicker) pizza doughs. Their doughs are created from traditional European recipes using premium ingredients (no bleached or bromated flours, no hydrogenated oil or high fructose corn syrup) and with clean, renewable energy. We were quite pleased with ourselves for being willing to welcome the Wawalka Wagon (say that three times fast)!

A few afternoons later, this pulled up outside of our house. We can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking.

The driver and his co-pilot came to our porch, smartly dressed in aprons and bakers' hats, and delivered a box and a bag filled with goodies. In the box were these beautiful palmiers swirled with tiny bits of ham and grated parmesan cheese. They were crisp and flaky and flavorful and the two of us came awfully close to finishing them all that same day. In the insulated bag was one of each type of refrigerated dough Wawalka makes (see above). They also gave us some coupons and recipe cards, and invited us to visit the website for more (as if we hadn't already ha ha). We like the Wewalka Wagon! 

When our new friends left, we gave our gifts a closer inspection. The first thing we noticed was the packaging, which is no less than brilliant. The delicate dough is rolled in parchment paper, which alone is amazing, because you don't need to use your own! You unroll the dough, parchment and all, create your recipe, then bake it on a pan. No badly flavored cooking sprays or butter to add extra grease, still no sticking, and clean-up involves wadding up the parchment and throwing it away. Love. It. Even more brilliant is the outer package which has a one-way valve that releases the carbon dioxide created by the yeast. It's the perfect living environment for the dough. The package ensures that the dough stays fresher longer, maintains its ability to rise properly, and (most importantly) tastes better than its canned competitor.  

We decided that the best starting taste test of Wewalka dough would be the croissants, especially since Amy just learned how to make croissants by hand. We also decided our first recipe should be simple so that the dough flavor wouldn't be masked by too many other ingredients. Therefore, one morning shortly after our Wewalka Wagon visit, we unrolled the parchment-lined croissant dough, which consists of six perforated triangles, and placed it on a baking sheet. We spread half with fig jam and the other half with melted butter sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar. Then we separated them, rolled them into their horned shape and brushed them with beaten egg. That took about 5 minutes. We baked them at 400F for 15 minutes (as instructed on the package) and voila! We had warm, airy, flaky croissants in about 20 minutes total time. We immediately imagined future concoctions, first chocolate and almond and other sweet, breakfasty croissants. But soon after that, we were dreaming of savory delights like broccoli and cheddar, meatball and ricotta, and crab and avocado. Endless mouth-watering possibilities.

Suffice it to say, we won't be buying canned croissants ever again. Not. Ever. If we're not going to make them from scratch, we're using Wewalka. And we liked those croissants so much that we are already thinking up recipes for the other types of dough. There's a whole lot of inspiration to be found on their website, too. Welcome to the U.S., Wewalka! And thanks for paying us a visit!

Disclaimer: We received free samples and coupons from Wewalka as stated above. However, all thoughts and opinions stated here are our own and we were not paid to publish this or to post only positive comments.

To find Wewalka products, go here: http://wewalka.us/want-wewalka


3 Times Thursday - Derby Drinks

This Saturday is the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, and maybe Mint Juleps aren't your thing. That's okay, because for today's 3 Times Thursday, we have three tasty alternatives (one is thisclose to the traditional cocktail) you can sip on while you watch the horses. 

#3. Rummin' Tea - Iced tea and rum. For the porch rocker in you.


1 part Sailor Jerry rum
2 parts slightly sweetened iced tea

Combine ingredients in a tall glass over ice. Garnish with lemon or mint if desired.

#2. The Berry Patch - Fresh, sweet, and perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon. Makes 2 drinks.

2-3 fresh strawberries, chopped
2-3 leaves fresh basil, torn
1/3 cup cranberry juice (100% juice, not cranberry cocktail)
1/3 cup lemonade (we like Newman's Own Lightly-Sweetened)
1/4 cup vodka
club soda (optional)
extra berries and/or basil leaves for garnish

Muddle the strawberries and basil together in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, then add cranberry juice, lemonade and vodka. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, then cover and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled martini glasses. Add a splash of club soda on top if you like it bubbly, and garnish as desired.

#1. Blackberry Mint Julep - This one is for those traditionalists who like living on the edge. Recipe makes 2 cocktails.


1/2 cup blackberries (saving 2 for garnish)
4 tablespoons mint leaves (saving 2 for garnish)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces bourbon

In a large cocktail shaker, muddle together the blackberries, mint and sugar. Fill shaker with ice then add bourbon. Shake well, then strain into two ice-filled cocktail glasses. Serve garnished with a mint leaf and a blackberry.


Go Local Magazine - May 2016

Go Local Magazine is a local lifestyle magazine promoting life around the Massachusetts/Connecticut line. The magazine features local businesses where you can play, shop and eat, and showcases the citizens who make the region great. This May, Go Local has expanded the area it covers to include Ellington and East Windsor, CT and Monson and Wilbraham, MA, for a total of 12 towns (and the largest issue yet!).

In the May issue, Amy wrote the article (page 11) on Cathy Testa, East Windsor's container gardening expert. She also had the great pleasure to interview the crew behind the brew at the very popular Tree House Brewery in Monson (article on page 17). Finally, you can find A Couple in the Kitchen's recipe for Yellow Shrimp Curry on page 72.

Do you love to go antiquing? Check out the feature on a couple of antiques collectors in Stafford Springs. Live vicariously through the stories on Connecticut Parachutists and the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club. Be inspired to grow your own edibles and flowers by reading about what they're sowing at Stony Hill Farms in Wilbraham and in the Suffield Garden Club. And there's so much more in this month's issue!   

You can get a free copy of Go Local Magazine at many businesses around these towns (go here for a list) or check it out online (here). Help Go Local continue to grow by patronizing these local businesses and keeping it local!


The 31st Annual New England Regional Chili Cook Off

Last weekend, we were pleased to judge the 31st Annual New England Regional Chili Cook Off in Somers, Connecticut. This was the first formal judging for Chris, who was certified as an official chili judge last year by the International Chili Society, while Amy was just judging unofficially. It was a gorgeous spring day and the scent of cooking meat, chili powder, peppers and spices filled the air. Chili cooks from all over the U.S.were present, including some former world champions. Divisions included salsa, chili verde, red chili and one for the "yutes." There were vendors selling their wares, a fun jug-style marching band, and the Spud Studs were there with their Big Idaho Potato Truck. We had a great time, and even better, the proceeds go to support the Patriot Guard Riders and the Somers Fire Department. Kudos to organizer Mad Mike Freedman and all the NERCC sponsors for another outstanding event!


  • Yute Division Connor Gramm, PA
  • People's Choice Chris Flahive, Yacht Club Chili, MA
  • Salsa, Steve Stark, MA
  • Chili Verde (Green Chili), Max Tankis, MA (whose grandfather is a past green chili world champ)
  • Red Chili, Judi Omerza, PA (who won red chili last year, also!)


Spooning out chili

Gorilla Chili

The Hidden Still of Ellington CT

Fun displays

Cooking with "moxie"

The Squad from the Somers Fire Department

Shop Rite and Mad Mike's Killer Chili

Mad Hatter Chili of Enfield, CT

The Saloon

Freddy Beach Chili Co.

Big Idaho Potato Truck

The Spud Studs

A Couple in the Kitchen Spud Selfie

Kung Fu Chili Kids entered the "Yute" Division

Stirring Chili with a big stick

Chili-themed wares

Color Guard

The National Anthem, sung and signed

Organizer Mad Mike Freedman and honored guests

Trophies and Cash Prizes for the Winners