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Cooks' Exchange: Sharing recipes from friends over the years has been super easy

Cooks' Exchange: Sharing recipes from friends over the years has been super easy

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Writing this column since 1993 has not only supplied me with favorite recipes requested and shared by readers, but also established friendships with readers who love to cook. Mike Repas happens to be just one of those often mentioned through the years.

In fact, he has shared so many of his favorite recipes, there is a Mike Repas folder within reach at all times with recipes waiting to fit in somewhere along the way prompting me to suggest that he should consider giving serious thought to writing a cookbook.

Also known as “Jammer,” Mike’s most recent recipe possessed a title: Supreezee. I questioned and asked for help pronouncing it wondering if it had anything to do with my age. Rather politely, he assured me that he had recently prepared and served the “supreezee” recipe to his wife, Kitty, their two daughters and their husbands, and complemented each serving with a “fine” Sauvignon. So, here is one of his own favorite “super easy” recipes promising to become “one to remember.”

Jammer’s Favorite

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¾ cup soft bread crumbs

½ cup tomato juice

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

2 pounds ground beef (80/15 grind preferred)

8 thin slices of pre-cooked ham

8 ounces mozzarella cheese

1 cup (approximately) good-quality marinara sauce (see notes)

1 cup (approximately) grated Parmesan cheese (see note)

3 slices provolone cheese sliced diagonally

Combine first 8 ingredients, then add ground beef and mix well, but not over-aggressively. Shape mixture into a 12x10-inch rectangle on a sheet of foil. Arrange ham slices over this layer leaving small margins around the edges. Roll into a loaf, using the foil. Seal edge and ends. Place roll, seam side down in a 9x13-inch baking vessel. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Carefully unwrap the foil, ladle the sauce over the roll, sprinkle the Parmesan over all … and place the provolone slices over the top. Return to plating, add a bit more sauce and Parmesan.

Note: Use your favorite sauce, store-bought or homemade. Go with Parmesan or Romano or a combination. It’s a matter of taste.

Sloppy Joe Spoon Burgers

While recently searching for a new hamburger barbecue recipe to fill some leftover hamburger buns, I happened to reach for a recent copy of the Burnett County Sentinel and noticed Lisa Erickson’s Wild Chow food column featuring “Sloppy Joes.” Despite enjoying my own recipe for countless years, I was about to learn of the possibility that Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite authors, had brought a sandwich back from Havana to his home in Key West, Florida, convincing his friend, Joe, to make a version there, and the rest is history. Having read and enjoyed Erickson’s food column for many years, I decided to include her own Sloppy Joe recipe with a suggestion to serve them in a bowl with a spoon.

2 lbs. ground beef

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

6-ounce can tomato paste

½ cup water

½ cup ketchup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

12 hamburger buns, sliced in half

In a large frypan, brown the hamburger. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Spoon over a bowl on hamburger buns.

Enlightened Spicy Avocado Dip

Now and then, space doesn’t always allow for these columns to run at full length, so today here are a few of the recipes that were set aside for another time.

Longtime reader Isabel Hubbard requested avocado recipes and here is one, described by Jessie Grearson-Sapat, of Falmouth, Maine, as “bursting with flavor.”

2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream

¼ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

¼-½ teaspoon prepared wasabi

Assorted fresh vegetables

Place first seven ingredients in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. Chill until serving. Serve with vegetables.

Yield: 1½ cups

Chunky Guacamole

Another favorite party recipe using avocados claims lime juice adds zing to this version of guacamole at parties any time of the year.

2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and cut up

¼ of a small red onion, cut up

1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

¹⁄8 teaspoon pepper

2 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled and cut up

Tortilla chips

In a food processor bowl, combine plum tomatoes, red onion, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and process with several on-off turns until mixture is coarsely chopped. Add avocados. Cover and process with on-off turns just until mixture is chopped. Spoon into a serving bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: 2 cups

Test Kitchen Tip: Go a step beyond simple guacamole by stirring in additional ingredients before chilling. Choose one or more of the following: 1 fresh green chili pepper or jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped; ¼ cup dairy sour cream; ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro; ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin; or ¹⁄8 to ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper.

Rich Man Butler Sauce and Avocados

Another avocado recipe is an appetizer, thanks to Marilyn Smith. This is a recipe given to her husband by Chun Rim, a Korean secretary he employed when they lived in San Jose, California. She received it from a friend who worked as a butler for a rich man, hence the name “Rich Man Butler Sauce.”

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup butter

2 medium-sized avocados

In a small saucepan, combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and butter. Heat over medium-low heat until warm (do not boil). Peel and halve avocados, discarding pits. Cut each half into 4 slices and place slices on each of 4 serving plates. Spoon warm sauce over avocado and serve immediately.

Serves: 4

Picnic Veggie Dip

This delicious dip has been served alongside a colorful array of vegetables at different events. Now it is a popular appetizer with family and friends no matter the occasion shared by Susan Schuller, Brainerd, Minnesota.

1 cup mayonnaise

8 ounces sour cream

7-ounce package of vegetable soup mix

10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped

Assorted fresh vegetables

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream and soup mix. Stir in spinach and water chestnuts. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with vegetables.

Yield: 3 cups

Curried Chicken Cheese Log

“The curry is mild in this recipe, so it pleases even people who don’t usually like curries.”

— Karen Owen, Rising Sun, Indiana

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1½ cups finely chopped cooked chicken

¹⁄³ cup finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon steak sauce

½ teaspoon curry powder

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Ritz crackers

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in chicken, celery, parsley, steak sauce and curry powder. Shape into a 9-inch log. Roll in almonds. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with crackers.

Curried Pecan Cheese Spread

This is a creamy cheese spread packed with red pepper, green chilies and crunchy pecans. Instead of serving it in a dish, shape it into a ball and roll it in the pecans suggests Cynde Sonnier, Mont Belvieu, Texas.

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1½ cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted, divided

¾ cup crushed pineapple, drained

4-ounce can chopped green chilies, drained

2 tablespoons chopped roasted sweet red pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Assorted fresh vegetables

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add cheddar cheese, ¾ cup pecans, pineapple, chilies, red pepper and garlic powder; beat until combined. Transfer to a serving dish. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Sprinkle with remaining pecans just before serving. Serve with vegetables.

Yield: 3½ cups.

Recent Requests: Although the restaurants closed, does anyone have recipes similar to Ella’s Deli grilled pound cake hot fudge sundae or … Fitzgerald’s Cole Slaw?

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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