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FOOD HOLIDAY: Celebrate World Egg Day With Something Different

Egg Stuffed Peppers

Eggs Benedict On Croissant

Fried Egg Sandwich

[1] Try baked eggs in bell pepper halves (photo courtesy Foodie Crush | Go Bold With Butter). [2] Eggs Benedict on a croissant instead of the classic English Muffin (photo courtesy Peach Valley Cafe). [3] A fried egg sandwich, elevated with a whole grain seeded roll (photo courtesy National Pasteurized Eggs).


World Egg Day is October 21st.

Most of us have grown up with the incredible, edible egg; and we are egg-static to celebrate this little protein powerhouse.

With over 6 grams of high-quality protein, nine essential amino acids and only 70 calories, , it’s one of the least egg-spensive sources of high-quality protein per serving.

It’s a staple food as well as an indulgence (caramel custard, French ice cream, hollandaise sauce, mousse…).


Options from breakfast, lunch and dinner through dessert.
Breakfast & Brunch Eggs

  • Best Scrambled Eggs recipe from Chef Wylie Dufresne. It has both butter and cream cheese!
  • Eggs Benedict in your signature style (recipe) (photo #2)
  • Eggs On Hash recipe
  • Egg-Stuffed Peppers (recipe) (photo #1)
  • Shakshouka, Spicy Poached & Baked Eggs (recipe)
    Brunch, Lunch & Dinner Eggs

  • Chinese Egg Drop Soup (recipe) (photo #4)
  • Croque Madame Sandwich, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg
  • Egg Salad, 25 Ways (recipes) (photo #3)
  • Fried Eggs On Rice Or Other Grain (recipe)
  • Frittata (recipe)
  • Lyonnaise Salad With Bacon & Eggs (recipe)
  • Poached Eggs With Lentils & Arugula (recipe)
  • Pork Strata (recipe)
  • Steak & Eggs, in your signature style (recipe)
  • Torta Española, Spanish Omelet (recipe)
    Egg Cetera

  • Deviled eggs (recipes; for Halloween check out the Deviled Eyeballs)
  • Green Eggs & Ham (recipe)
  • Soufflé Omelet With Balsamic Strawberries (recipe)
    Next, a recipe that is new to us: Huevos Divorciados, a Mexican breakfast dish that means “divorced eggs.” (We’ve also made it for lunch and a light dinner.)

    Sunnyside-up fried eggs are dressed up in different ways and separated on the plate, “each going its own way” (photo #4, below).

    The typical direction uses two different salsas: a spicy red salsa for one egg and a cooling tomatillo (green) salsa with the other. The salsa and eggs are set upon two crispy corn tortillas.

    But you can use different salsas, toppings and underpinnings, and come up with your signature style.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Chef Jeffrey Clark for Davidson’s Eggs.


    As is our won’t at THE NIBBLE, we like to push the boundaries of the original dish and find fun ways to customize it. For Huevos Divorciados, you can separate the two eggs and their different salsas with:

  • Bacon strips
  • Black beans or refried beans
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Crumbled cotija or queso fresco
  • Drizzled cream: crema, sour cream, yogurt
  • Fried plantains or plantain chips
  • Gringo food: cherry tomato/onion salad in vinaigrette, grilled vegetables, grits, toast fingers, wilted greens (asparagus, broccolini, collards, kale, spinach, etc.)
  • Guacamole or avocado, sliced or diced
  • Potatoes: papas bravas, papas fritas or American potato tots
  • Refried beans
  • Rolled flour tortilla
  • Sausage
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Tortilla chips

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 six-inch corn or flour tortillas
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 12 tablespoons roasted fresh tomato salsa heated, divided
  • 12 tablespoons roasted tomatillo salsa, heated, divided
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 4 thin slices red onion, separated
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 4 tablespoons guacamole
  • Serve with: breakfast potatoes, black or refried beans

    1. BRUSH both sides of the tortillas with olive oil. Place in baking pan and bake at 400°F for 6 minutes or until crisp. Meanwhile…

    2. PREPARE the sunny side-up eggs. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Gently slide 2 eggs into the skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until the whites are set and opaque, and the yolks begin to firm. Gently remove from skillet; repeat with the remaining butter and eggs.

    3. PLACE two tortillas side by side on dinner plates. Place one egg on each tortilla. On each plate, ladle 6 tablespoons of the red salsa around one egg and 6 tablespoons of the salsa verde around the second egg.

    4. SPRINKLE eggs with equal amounts of cheese and cilantro. Garnish with onion slices, a lime wedge and guacamole. Serve with breakfast potatoes, refried beans, or black beans, if desired.

    It’s a view of the different types of eggs, from blue hen eggs to ostrich eggs.

    How many of these types have you had?

    The French have the ouef, the Italians and Spanish have uovo and ovo from the Latin ovum. The Greeks have oon, the Germans have Ei.

    How did we get egg?

    Egge appeared in the the mid-14th century northern England dialect, derived mostly from Old Norse and Proto-Germanic ajja, possibly derived from root awi, bird.


    Huevos Divorciados

    Chinese Egg Drop Soup

    [4] Huevos Divorciados from OiYouFood. Here’s the recipe. [5] It’s easy to make egg drop soup at home with this recipe (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    This Norse-derived northern word vied in Middle English with cognates* eye, eai and the Old English æg, until egg finally displaced the others sometime after 1500. It appears in print in the description of a man at a public house on the Thames who asked for eggs [source].
    *Cognates are words with common etymological origins.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Carve Some Halloween Cheese

    A few days ago we recommended cheeses to create a beautiful Halloween-themed cheese plate, featuring artisan cheeses.

    But not everybody likes fancy cheeses, or has the budget to purchase them.

    So here’s Plan B: Halloween cheese fun that anyone can afford.

  • Make your favorite cheese ball recipe and turn it into a jack o’lantern by rolling it in crushed Cheetos or orange crackers like Ritz
  • Make the face with cut-up red bell pepper pieces. Press a stem made of broccoli stalk or celery into the top.
  • Here’s the recipe for the cheese ball in the bottom photo.

  • Mini Babybel Gouda snack cheeses have a pumpkin-color wax coating. The Mini Babybel White Cheddar Cheese variety is covered in white wax.
  • Use a chisel-tip Sharpie marker to create jack o’lantern faces. The eight-pack assortment includes black, orange, red, and two shades of green for the stems.

  • For larger parties, you can find wheels of orange cheddar—round with a flat top and bottom—in two-pounds and five pounds.
  • Remove the wax and carve a jack o’lantern face through the flat side.
  • Create a stem top from a piece of broccoli stalk, and affix it with a toothpick.
  • Present the jack o’lantern standing up so you can see through the eyes and nose. To keep it steady, you can trim a small piece from the bottom.
    The next two ideas are from, which has 15 different ways to use cheese at Halloween.

  • The easiest way to serve “Halloween cheese” is to use small (2-inches or smaller) Halloween-themed cookie cutters to cut shapes from orange cheddar or American cheese slices (top photo).
  • Place them on your favorite crackers. It’s that simple.

  • Make a Mummy Brie from an 8-ounce Brie and a sheet of puff pastry (center photo). Here’s the recipe: wrapped in puff pastry.
  • Delish uses black olives and mini pepperoni slices for the eyes, but we substituted slices of pimento-stuffed olives.

    Halloween Crackers & Cheese

    Halloween Brie

    Halloween Cheese Ball

    [1] Cut Halloween shapes with mini cookie cutters. [2] Baked Brie turns into a mummy with a sheet of puff pastry (photos #1 and #2 courtesy [3] A Halloween cheese ball (photo courtesy Snackworks).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Scream Cheese, Special Cheeses For Halloween

    Basiron Red Gouda

    Cahill's Porter Cheddar

    English Cheddar With Harissa

    Mimolette Cheese

    Halloween Cheese

    [1] Basiron Pesto Rosso, a red Gouda. [2] Cahill’s Irish Cheddar, marbled with porter. [3] English Cheddar with spicy harissa. [4] Mimolette, perhaps the spookiest-looking cheese. [5] A limited fall edition version of Weybridge from Vermont (all photos are the copyright of their respective owners).


    Can cheeses be spooky? You bet!

    These cheeses and others can create as perfect Halloween cheese plate. They also double as “harvest moon” cheeses for Thanksgiving.

    They represent England, France, Holland, Ireland, and the U.S. They’re all delicious and worth seeking out. If you can’t find them locally, we’ve provided e-tail links.

    Basiron Pesto Rosso

    This Dutch Gouda (photo #1), also called Red Gouda, gets its bright color and flavor from an infusion of tomato pesto. Each creamy bite has a hit of ripe tomato and Italian herbs.

    It’s what we call “fusion cheese”: a traditional cheese from one country flavored with herbs and spices from another culture.

    Find it at
    Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar

    Made near Limerick and dating to 1759, the brown mosaic pattern is made with Guinness (photo #2). There’s also a fall-appropriate version colored red with wine, and an all-yellow version made with Irish whiskey (save the latter for St. Patrick’s Day).

    Find it at
    English Cheddar With Harissa

    Another “cultural fusion cheese,” this tangy English Cheddar (photo #3) gets an infusion of harissa, a Moroccan spice blend that consists of chiles, coriander, cumin, garlic and smoked paprika (each producer has a proprietary blend, which can include other ingredients).

    Find it at

    Perhaps the creepiest of all (photo #4), Mimolette’s rind looks like the craters of the moon. Cut it open and surprise: There’s a blazing orange interior that also looks scary.

    This semi-sharp cow’s milk cheese is produced in the area around Lille in Alsace, France. Try it with an Alsatian Riesling!

    Find it at

    Weybridge Limited Edition

    This “surprise!” cheese from the Scholten Family Farm in Vermont has a ghostly white bloomy rind, that reveals a tangy orange paste (the industry term for the interior of a cheese). An organic cheese, limited edition version has a dusting of vegetable ash on the rind for some extra spookiness.

    The limited edition cheese, a fall version of the regular Weybridge, sells out quickly. Reserve yours at Jasper Hill Farm.

    It’s annatto, a natural dye derived from achiote seeds. It’s the same natural color that differentiates yellow cheddar from white cheddar.

    In large amounts annatto provides a slightly spicy flavor, but here in smaller touches it delivers only the color.

  • Ash-covered goat cheese. While originally used to protect delicate goat cheeses during travel, vegetable ash continues to be popular for eye appeal on a fresh goat cheese log, or as a dramatic interior stripe in Humboldt Fog or Morbid. It imports no flavor, but does help with the ripening process in cheeses such as Bonne Bouche from Vermont Creamery and Selles sur Cher from the Loire.
  • Extra Triple Aged Gouda, a sturdy paste and harvest gold color.
  • Huntsman Cheese, from the U.K., a layered cheese of orange-hued Double Gloucester and veined white Stilton.
  • Pecorino With Chile Flakes. This aged Italian cheese has flecks hot chile flakes. Find it at
  • Saxonshire Cheese. This five-layer British cheese has a dramatic appearance: Each of the layers is a different shade of yellow or orange. The layers are Caerphilly, Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester and Leicester—all classics.


    Along with bread, crackers, fruits and nuts, serve a choice of condiments. Use ramekins for neatness. No ramekins? See what you do have, such as espresso cups and espresso spoons.

  • Chutney: apple, cranberry, pear, quince
  • Corn relish
  • Fall fruit jams: concord grape, fig, spiced fruits
  • Fruit butters: apple, pumpkin
  • Mustard: grainy mustard, horseradish mustard, walnut mustard, and the
  • Savory-sweet jellies: garlic, horseradish, onion
  • Spicy honey: buy it or add chili flakes to plain honey
    Look for an artisan semolina loaf if you want to add some seasonal color to the bread.

    The great French mustard house produces a standard line plus seasonal flavors: so good, we eat them from the jar on a spoon!

    Fall flavors include:

  • Black Olive & White Wine Mustard
  • Black Truffle & Chablis Mustard
  • Black Truffle, Cep & Chablis Mustard (limited edition)
  • Fig, Coriander & White Wine Mustard
  • Hazelnut, Black Chanterelle Mushrooms & White Wine Mustard
    We love to give these gourmet mustards as house gifts and stocking stuffers for our foodie friends. Find them online at


    Maille Hazelnut Chanterelle Mustard

    Maille Black Truffle Mustard

    [6] Maille Hazelnut, Black Chanterelle Mushrooms & White Wine Mustard. [7] Maille Black Truffle, Cep & Chablis Mustard, a limited edition for fall (photos courtesy Maille USA).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Jarlsberg Cheese From Norway

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps

    Jarlsberg Wheel

    [1] Jarlsberg from Norway: the top special cheese in the U.S. [2] Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps in four flavors: Chipotle, Garlic & Herb, Mediterranean Sea Salt and Rosemary & Olive Oil. We’ve been enjoying them plain, with soup and salads, and with dips. [3] “What big eyes you have,” said Goldilocks to the Jarlsberg. Eyes is the industry term for what consumers call holes (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).


    Sixty years ago, a group of students and scientists at the Agricultural University of Norway decided to explore old legends and cheese-making traditions, and to create an old cheese with modern cheese-making technology.

    The origin of the modern cheese they created traces back to the early 1800s when Swiss cheese makers came to southern Norway to teach Norwegians how to make cheese.

    Norwegians began to produce their own cheese similar to Swiss cheese, but after the departure of the Swiss, the particular style did not endure.

    Fast forward: 1956 arrives, along with the students who had a project under the direction of their professor, Ole Martin Ystgaard of the Dairy Institute at the Agricultural University of Norway. Their project: to revive an old-style cheese.

    They studied ancient texts and recipes, experimented, and created a wonderful cheese they named Jarlsberg® (pronounced YAHRLS-berg).

    It was named after Count Vadel Jarlsberg, whose countship was created in 1673. His estate was located near where the earlier version of the cheese was first produced.

    A mild, semisoft, part skim, pasteurized cheese made from cow’s milk, Jarlsberg has been beloved from the beginning for its mild, sweet and nutty taste and the appeal of its large round holes (eyes).

    It is Norway’s most famous edible export, the #1 cheese imported to the U.S., and the #1 specialty cheese* brand in the U.S.

    As a bonus to millions of Americans, it’s also lactose-free†.

    Bravo, Professor Ystgaard and team. Who wouldn’t love bragging rights to this creation: for oneself and for generations to come!

    Jarlsberg is one of the most versatile cheeses. More than a table cheese and sandwich cheese, it can be:

  • Melted for cheese sauces, fondues, gratins, grilled cheese sandwiches and rarebits/rabbits (here’s how to melt cheese).
  • Shaved as a garnish for salads and soups.
  • Used for cheeseburgers (so much tastier than American cheese!), mac and cheese, omelets, quiche and other cheese tarts.
    The line has expanded to include:

  • Hickory Smoked Pre-Sliced Jarlsberg.
  • Grab-and-go mini cheeses for snacking (voted Men’s Health Best Snack Award for 2014 and 2015).
  • Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks (shaped like string cheese).
  • Jarlsberg Lite, a reduced-fat rindless cheese (not a good melter—you need more fat to melt well).
  • Cheese crisps: cheese crackers in four flavors (photo #3).
    For starters, see some of the recipes below.
    *Specialty cheese is defined as a cheese of limited production, with particular attention paid to natural flavor and texture profiles. The opposite is factory cheese, mass-produced.

    Cheddar and authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano are the other two cheeses that are 100% lactose free.



    Each of the world’s cheeses is made from a specific recipe, which includes both the type(s) of cheese cultures and the production techniques. Both combine to deliver each cheese’s unique flavor, aroma and appearance.

    Jarlsberg enchants not only with its flavor, but with its eyes.

    Emmental, the first cheese with large eyes, is what Americans think of as Swiss cheese—although there are more than a dozen different types of Swiss cheese, including Appenzeller, Raclette, Gruyère, Tête de Moine, Tilsit and Vacherin Mont d’Or. (Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin Mont d’Or are also made in France.)

    Some Swiss have eyes, some don’t.

    Some people find Jarlsberg similar to French Gruyère, which has holes. Modern-style Swiss Gruyère does not.

    The larger the holes, the more mature the cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a stipulation that the “eyes” in “grade-A Swiss” can be no larger than 13/16 of an inch in diameter.

    Why? Because larger eyes can make the cheese difficult to slice on modern cheese-slicing equipment. The blades were catching on the large holes and shredding the cheese rather than slicing it.
    Why Does The Cheese Have Holes?

    The holes in cheese are a deliberate byproduct‡ of fermentation, the process by which milk is turned into the curds that are used to create cheese.

    They are the result of propioni bacteria, which cause gas to expand within the curd and create the holes’

    The longer cheese ages, the bigger the holes get, and the more intense flavor is developed.

    Head to for dozens of new and familiar recipes, such as:

  • Artichokes au gratin
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Cannelloni and other pasta dishes
  • Cheese and corn muffins
  • Crab fondue
  • Jarlsberg soufflé
  • Gravlax Eggs Benedict
  • Kale salad, chicken salad and other salads
  • Mac and cheese
  • Gratin, mashed and twice-baked potatoes
  • Nachos
  • Onion soup
  • Sliders
  • Waffle grilled cheese
  • White Pizzas

    Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    [3] Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict. [4] A Croque Monasieur sandwich made with Jarlsberg instead of Gruyere (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).


    ‡In recent centuries the eyes a deliberate part of recipes, and can be created larger or smaller. In the beginning, the eyes were a happy accident. They certainly do have eye appeal! (Pun intended.)



    TIP OF THE DAY: Liberté Organic Yogurt

    Liberte Organic Yogurt

    Liberte Organic Yogurt

    Liberte Organic Yogurt

    [1] From top clockwise: French Lavender, Washington Cherry and Philippine Coconut. [2] Close-up on coconut. Note the haiku under the top foil. [3] Lemon and strawberry; note the triangular containers (all photos courtesy Liberté).


    We have long been enamored with Liberté yogurt, from the moment some 10 years ago that we plucked a few flavors off the shelf of our Whole Foods.

    Since then we’ve come to know other artisan brands, from FAGE and Siggi’s to small local brands like Culture and White Moustache.

    But in terms of accessibility, year after year we eat more Liberté than anything else.

    Liberté USA plans to transition all products to USDA organic-certified. A line of new whole milk yogurt flavors is debuting now at retailers nationwide, for a suggested retail price of $1.89. The eight delicious flavors, sundae-style (fruit on the bottom) include:

  • Baja Strawberry
  • Californian Pomegranate
  • Ecuadorian Mango
  • French Lavender
  • Lemon*
  • Philippine Coconut
  • Sweet Cream†
  • Washington Black Cherry
    The elgant triangular containers are new to us, and we enjoyed the haiku under each lid.

    The line is rBST/rBGH-free and certified kosher by OK.


    Have a yogurt tasting. Compare four or more brands to see which one(s) you truly like best.

    One 6-ounce container allows four people to have a heaping spoonful, plus enough left over to re-taste and compare.

    The ideal way to do this is in a blind taste test, trying the same flavor of each brand. Strawberry is a best bet, but survey the options for flavors-in-common.

    With wine, you simply put a brown bag around the bottle. Yogurt requires a bit more work. You can cut and cover the containers with brown paper, or mark the names on the bottom of bowls and scoop the appropriate brand into each bowl.

    We did the latter, spring for two containers of each of five brands and making it part of a small brunch party.

    Did Liberté come out on top?

    We’ll only say this: Different tasters prefer different tastes. Do your own test!

    For more information about Liberte Organic Yogurt and a product locator, visit

    Check out these and other good-to-know yogurt terms in our Yogurt Glossary.

    *We to wonder why Lemon is left without a modifier.

    †The Sweet Cream flavor is not flavored with vanilla, but has a slight sweetness that reminds us of some quarks and fromage blancs. We liked it very much, although it is quite different from the fruit flavors.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cracker Barrel, The Best Boxed Mac & Cheese

    Why do so many American households make macaroni and cheese?

    It’s easy, cheap, fast (9 minutes!) comfort food—at least in modern packaged form. But in the many centuries before boxed mac & cheese, it was as laborious as most other cooking.


    The first written known record of pasta and cheese casseroles dates to medieval cookbooks of the 14th century.

    The first modern recipe for the dish was published in Britain, in Elizabeth Raffald’s 1769 book, The Experienced English Housekeeper.

    Raffald’s recipe calls for a mornay sauce—a secondary mother sauce that’s a béchamel sauce with cheese—in this case, cheddar cheese. The sauce is mixed with cooked macaroni, sprinkled with parmesan, and baked until golden.

    The recipe from scratch requires cooked macaroni (now referred to by its Italian name, pasta); plus milk, butter and flour and cheese to make the cheddar or parmesan sauce.

    Almost a century later, in 1861, the popular Victorian cookbook Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management offered two recipes for the dish, one topped with the bread crumbs still used today. Both books are available in reprints: Just click the links.

    Thomas Jefferson encountered pasta in Paris while Minister to France (1885 to 1889), and in his travels to Italy. Back in the U.S., he imported both macaroni and parmesan cheese in order to enjoy cheesy macaroni.
    Mac & Cheese Gets Its Name

    The first recipe called “macaroni and cheese” was published in the U.S. in 1824, in Mary Randolph’s influential cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. More American “macaroni and cheese” recipes followed, in the 1852 Hand-book of Useful Arts, and the 1861 Godey’s Lady’s Book.

    By the mid-1880s, midwestern cookbooks included recipes for macaroni and cheese casseroles. Labor-intensive, the dish was enjoyed by the more affluent [source].
    Mac & Cheese Gets A Box

    Once it became available in dry packaged form in the first half of the 20th century, mac and cheese became affordable to the masses—and thus less interesting to the affluent. Launched in 1937 in the midst of the Great Depression, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese advertised that a family of four could eat for 19¢, the price of a box. Consumers bought eight million boxes in the first year [source].

    A whopping 50 million boxes were sold during World War II, when meat and dairy were in short supply, and one food ration stamp could be exchanged for two boxes of macaroni and cheese.

    Today, the original packaged form is joined by frozen heat-and-eat versions and cheddar cheese sauce is sold in jars. The dish can be cooked on the stovetop, in the oven or in a microwave.

    In the United States, July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Now that we’re up to date…

    Up-front disclosure: We’re really picky about our food, and have never enjoyed powdered cheese sauce. Our mom made mac and cheese from scratch, grating cheddar, gruyère or parmesan into her béchamel.

    She used bricks Cracker Barrel cheddar, her brand of choice. Back then, specialty cheese stores were few and far between; and even today, it’s not easy for many people to find the finest farmhouse (artisan) cheddars (and if you found them, the best use would not be grated into a cheese sauce).

    So we were more than interested to see what Cracker Barrel would present as a packaged mac and cheese.

    It’s the cheese that makes the biggest difference in preparations, and Cracker Barrel does not disappoint. Its cheese sauce is not mixed from powder, but is ready to eat, squeezed from a package onto the cooked elbow macaroni.

    Smooth, creamy and full of flavor, it has a distinctively superior taste, creating what you’d expect from a casual restaurant instead of a boxed product.


    Macaroni & Cheese Breadcrumbs

    Macaroni & Cheese Broccoli

    Lobster Mac & Cheese

    BLT Mac & Cheese

    Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese

    [1] A bread crumb topping was suggested in Mrs. Beeton’s 1861 cookbook. [2] Sneaking in broccoli and riced cauliflower. [3] Go upscale with added shellfish; here, lobster (photo courtesy Blake’s). [4] BLT mac & cheese (photo courtesy WMMB). [5] The best boxed mac and cheese, new from Cracker Barrel.

    And while it comes in a box, Cracker Barrel is not meant to compete with other boxed mac and cheese (Kraft owns Cracker Barrel as well as the number-one brand, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese) but with prepared dishes from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, and with restaurant dishes. (Kraft, which owns the Cracker Barrel trademark, has no relation to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.)

    People with sophisticated palates will notice the quality. Yet, the price is not much more than other boxed meals.

    There are four varieties of Cracker Barrel Macaroni and Cheese, featuring different cheese options:

  • Cheddar Havarti
  • Sharp Cheddar
  • Sharp Cheddar & Bacon
  • Sharp White Cheddar
    You can dress up the dish with anything you like. We enjoy it plain with fresh-cracked pepper and some grated parmesan, but also loved:

  • Bay scallops and toasted crumbs—shades of Coquilles Saint Jacques.
  • BLT-style, with a topping of bacon, baby arugula and diced tomato.
  • Ham and cheese—we had some baked ham as well as serrano ham. We julienned the former, shredded the latter and snipped some fresh herbs on top.
  • Veggie supreme, made with all our leftover vegetables. Tip: put the veggies on the bottom and they’ll be coated with cheese sauce.

    No: You can use any pasta. Elbow macaroni most likely became the standard because it was easy for children to eat with a spoon.

    We heard one of our favorite chefs—Gordon Ramsay—chew out a chef on TV for making mac and cheese with penne, insisting that it must be made with elbows.

    Not so, chef!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Frittata For Dinner

    For breakfast, lunch or dinner, make a frittata (frizz-TA-ta).

    A frittata is an Italian-style omelet, set in the frying pan in the oven*—no folding required. We’ve been making them for years, because our omelets never looked neat enough and we had no patience to work on our technique.

  • With an omelet, the filling ingredients are placed on the beaten eggs that are setting in the pan. As the omelet continues to cook, it is folded with a spatula to envelop the ingredients (that’s the part that requires practice, practice, practice).
  • With a frittata—the name comes from the Italian friggere, to fry—the eggs and other ingredients are mixed together, then cooked more slowly than an omelet. The egg mixture completely fills a round skillet: no folding. The result looks like a crustless quiche. The name derives from the Italian friggere, to fry.
  • As with a quiche, a frittata can be served at room temperature

    Sometimes we add so many vegetables that we end up with “veggies bound with some egg.” You can added anything else you have, from beans, to leftover grains and potatoes.

    There are countless frittata recipes online, with oven, stove top or stove top/broiler cooking techniques. We prefer the oven—it’s the easiest for us—but try them all to see which works best for you.


  • Cheese: any kind, crumbled, cubed or shredded as appropriate
  • Fresh herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley or other favorite
  • Heat: fresh or dried chile, hot sauce
  • Meats: bacon, ham, sausage
  • Miscellany: canned artichoke hearts, capers, olives
  • Seafood: crab, scallops, shrimp (great when there aren’t enough left over for a main dish)
  • Vegetables: Anything goes (see list† below)—pre-steam as necessary
    National Farmers Market Week begins tomorrow, so head for yours and make a selection.


    This “kitchen sink” frittata shows that you can take whatever you have in the fridge or pantry and toss it together for delicious results. We once had a “Surprise BYO” brunch with friends; everyone brought a favorite ingredient (we had extra ingredients in the fridge in case everyone brought the same thing).

    If you don’t have or like any of the ingredients, substitute what you do have.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch salt (more saltiness comes with the feta)
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels removed
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Optional: a shake of red pepper flakes or other heat

  • Side salad
  • Toast or bread and butter

    Potato & Sausage Frittata

    Avocado Arugula Frittata

    Frittata Recipe

    [1] Use boiled potatoes and sausage for this family favorite. Here’s the recipe from Applegate. [2] You can top a frittata with fresh ingredients (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). [3] You can put anything into a frittata. This “kitchen sink” recipe is below (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    *You can also use the stove top and broiler, but in the oven no flipping is required.

    †Try any blend: avocado, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, carrot, chard, eggplant, kale, mushrooms, onion/leek/green onion, potatoes (boiled/roasted), spinach, zucchini and so on.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Beat together the eggs and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Add the feta and whisk together.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a 6” cast iron pan. When hot, add the garlic and onions and cook until they start to color, about 3 mintues. Add the corn, tomatoes and basil. Lower the heat to medium and cook together for about 5 minutes until the onions are how you like them. Then scrape the contents into a bowl and let cool.

    3. REGREASE the bottom and sides of the pan. Mix the egg mixture with the corn and tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake until the center of the frittata is just set and no longer jiggling, about 15 to 20 minutes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Build-Your-Own No-Cook Summer Dessert Bowl

    Easy Ricotta Summer Dessert

    Sheep's Milk Ricotta

    Wasa Sesame Sea Salt Thins

    Wasa Thins

    [1] Lay out the ingredients for the easiest DIY dessert. [2] Ricotta salata, made in a mold, is salted. It’s better for a DIY with savory toppings (photos courtesy Good Eggs). [3] and [4] Crunchy Wasa Thins in Sesame & Sea Salt, also available in Sea Salt & Rosemary (photos courtesy Wasa).


    You may know ricotta from cannoli and cheesecake. They’re delicious desserts, but require some preparation.

    For summer, there’s another option: The 5 Minute Ricotta Dessert Bowl, as created by Good Eggs, a top-quality online grocer in San Francisco.

    Yes, in just five minutes you can set ingredients on the table, DIY-style, and everyone can have fun (and good nutrition!) customizing their bowls.

  • In addition to dessert, you can set out the spread for breakfast, light lunch or a sophisticated snack.
  • You can make a savory version, for breakfast, light lunch, snack or a first course at dinner.

    Ricotta is actually not a cheese but a by-product of cheese-making which uses the whey drained from other cheeses. Whey is the watery part of milk that remains after the formation of the curds. In fact, the name means “re-cooked.” Here’s more ricotta information.

    You can even make your own ricotta at home. Here’a a recipe from Williams-Sonoma.

    Turn it into a build-your-own dessert—no cooking, no heat, cool comfort food.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • Ricotta (the best you can find, 4 ounces per person)
  • Berries or other fruits
  • Nuts and seeds of choice; granola
  • Sweetness: agave or honey for drizzling
  • Optional: crème fraîche, yogurt, sour cream; for dessert, mascarpone
  • Bonus: chocolate chips, candied orange peel, dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins)
  • Crackers: flatbread (we used the new Sesame Sea Salt Thins from WASA), or other cracker of choice.
    Savory Ingredient Options

    Use the same nuts/seeds, yogurt/sour cream and crackers, plus:

  • Ricotta and/or ricotta salata (photo #2)
  • Carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, green onions, radishes and/or other vegetables of choice, sliced
  • Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, parsley)
  • Hot sauce
  • Shichimi togarashi or other spice blend
  • More: capers, sliced olives, roasted red peppers, etc.

    Set out different brands, from big commercial brands or the store brand, to freshly-made ricotta from the cheese department.

    Taste each type plain: just a spoonful.

    Sheep’s Milk Ricotta

    Good Eggs uses Bellwether Farms Sheep’s Milk Ricotta in this recipe. In Italy, Sheep’s milk ricotta is preferred over any other for its delicate flavor and texture. If you can find it, grab it.

    Use it both sweet and savory dishes, including stuffed pasta (lasagna, manicotti, ravioli, shells, etc.).

  • Ricotta For Breakfast
  • Ricotta For Lunch, Dinner & Dessert


    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Cheeses

    Yellow Tomato Caprese Salad

    Arty Caprese Salad

    Watermelon Caprese Salad

    [1] Yellow tomato Caprese Salad (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers | FB. [2] Artistic Caprese Salad (photo courtesy Great Performances | FB). [3] Watermelon Caprese Salad. You can also use mango and other stone fruits (photo courtesy


    On the hot days of summer, lighten up on your cheeses. Switch the heavier blues, cheddars and washed rind cheeses for delicate, creamy ones.

    Even fresh year-round cheeses like chèvre, feta, mozzarella and ricotta taste better in the summer.

    Here’s the 411 on cheese:

  • Cheeses are seasonal based on the feed and milk availability. Goats and sheep, for example, cease producing milk over the winter, when they have bred, until they give spring.
  • With modern freezing techniques to preserve the curds, goat’s and sheep’s milk curds, previously available only in spring when the animals give birth, are available year-round.
  • In the spring and summer, the animals from artisan cheesemakers graze in the field, eating grass and clover. The seasonal diet gives more dimension to their milk, with floral and grassy notes.
  • Fresh curds + richer milk = the best cheese of the year.
    No one will stop you from getting your fill of aged Gouda, Roquefort or Stilton, but we prefer to save them for the cooler months.

    There are many semisoft, semihard and hard cheeses at peak for summer. Your cheesemonger can guide you to the best semi-hard and hard summer cheeses in the store. On the soft, fresh side, here are our favorite widely-available cheeses:

    All pair with burgers, pizza, green salads and fruit salads.


    Pay a bit more for artisan mozzarella. As opposed to rubbery factory mozzarella, it’s freshly made, and has a delightfully different texture from the standard “pizza mozzarella.”

    Pair it with its soul mates, fresh basil and summer tomatoes; then:

  • Tuck it into omelets.
  • Make grilled cheese sandwiches or panini.
  • Toss with pasta and salads (ciliegine and perlini, bite-size mozzarella balls, work better here).
  • For appetizers and the summer “cheese course,” combine ciliegine with cherry tomatoes and other vegetables, cubed meats or rolled proscuitto. Use skewers or an artistic plating.
  • For dessert, do the same with fruit.
    And get your fill of perhaps the most famous summer mozzarella dish, Caprese Salad.

  • You can substitute mango, stone fruit or watermelon for the the tomatoes.
  • You can substitute feta, goat cheese, ricotta, even tofu for the mozzarella.
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: basil.


    Feta—crumbled, cubed or sliced—pairs with almost every summer fruit and vegetable. Tip: Some feta is very salty. Go to the cheese counter and ask to taste it first, or get a recommendation for a packaged brand with less salt.

  • In omelets.
  • In Watermelon-Feta Salad or crumbled over green salad.
  • On skewers—appetizer and dessert.
  • With grilled lamb, pork or poultry (turn it into a side with good olive oil, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs).
  • On burgers: beef, turkey and especially lamb.
  • On pizza, anchovies, capers, olives and onion slices.
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: cilantro or dill.


    Fresh Goat Cheese

    Fresh goat cheese is soft and creamy, with a bit of tang. Along with ricotta, it spreads easily on bread.

    As with mozzarella, fresh goat cheese loves summer tomatoes. Try it:

  • On crusty baguette, with tomatoes or grilled vegetables.
  • In omelets.
  • With green salads (slice a log into rounds and place on top of the greens.
  • Ditto with fruit salads or a fresh fruit plate.
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: basil or mint.

    Soft and creamy ricotta is can be called “Italian cottage cheese,” and can be used in the same ways.

    You can mix in any seasonings and use the flavored cheese in even more ways. Ricotta loves a drizzle of honey.

  • Spread on toast and bagels, with optional honey or berries.
  • DIY ricotta bowls for breakfast or dessert (see photo #4).
  • Substitute for mozzarella in a Caprese Salad.
  • Pair with fresh fruit and optional yogurt.
  • Sweeten for cookie sandwiches or dips.
  • Whip with sweetener and a touch of cinnamon for “cannoli cream.”
  • Use the cannoli cream instead of whipped cream to top fruit, puddings and other desserts.
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: chives.

    Test your knowledge—or build it up—with our Cheese Glossary: the different types of cheese, categories, techniques, etc.


    Ricotta Caprese Salad

    Ricotta Toppings

    [1] Top a salad with a spoonful or two of plain or flavored ricotta (photo courtesy Del Posto | NYC). [2] DIY ricotta bowls are customized to whatever you want: fruit, seeds, even chocolate (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip

    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).


    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!


    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy [2] Photo courtesy



    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.




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