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Mac and Cheese…and Panko

Posted by in Step-by-Step Recipes

I continue to love, adore, and revere panko.

Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, and are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. They absorb less oil, too, so after baking or frying they still have an incredibly crunchy texture.

Here’s what I really love: topping casseroles with panko breadcrumbs. They’re the modern day crushed potato chips or corn flakes. I make a zucchini and tomato casserole that’s absolutely transformed by the crunch of panko. I once made an Eggplant Parmesan with panko that pretty much changed my entire life. Just check out this list of recipes on Tasty Kitchen that use panko break crumbs…its magic can’t be denied!

Panko Recipes on Tasty Kitchen

Baked pastas are probably my favorite things to top with Panko. As perfectly delicious as they are on their own, the little crunch (and subtle flavor) that panko crumbs bring is such a treat. Try it on your favorite baked pasta dish; you’ll see what I mean!

Here’s a good, basic Mac & Cheese dish that’s perfect for your Labor Day potluck. Topped with beautiful tomatoes and panko crumbs, it’s pretty, crunchy…and will make you swoon.

Start by grating a pound of cheese. I’m using cheddar and Fontina, but you can use any combination of cheese you’d like. (You can even throw in some Gorgonzola or goat cheese. Yum.)


In a skillet melt 1/2 stick of butter over medium-low heat.


Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the melted butter.


Whisk the flour into the butter until it’s totally combined.


Next, pour in 2 1/2 cups of milk.


Measure a couple of teaspoons of mustard powder.


Dump it in, and whisk, cooking the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to deepen in color. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper.


The mixture will be thick enough to coat a spoon.


Throw in the cheese!


Stir it together until the cheese melts.


Throw in the cooked pasta and stir it together.


Now rub the bottom of a baking dish with butter.


Pour the pasta in the dish…


And smooth it out to even the surface.


Now grab the package of panko crumbs…


And coat the surface generously! I’m not talking a tablespoon here, folks. I’m talking a bunch. You want to taste that crunch!


Now, slice up some Roma tomatoes. Not too thin—you’ll need them to hold together during the baking process.


Arrange them neatly over the surface of the dish.


Pretty! Now sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with salt and pepper.


Now add another layer of panko crumbs. Trust me. You want the tomatoes to be crunchy, too!

Now bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. At the end, turn on the broiler and let it brown the top a little more. Watch it the whole time, though! You don’t want to burn this beauty.

And it is a beauty.


Look at the gorgeous topping!


What I love about this, too, is that the tomatoes make it easy to divide portions. Every portion gets a tomato!

I love it when the world makes sense.


And I love this macaroni and cheese.

Throw some panko crumbs onto your next pasta or vegetable casserole. They really change things up.


Here’s a link to the printable. Make it for Labor Day. Speaking from experience, it’s almost more delicious at room temperature!

Mac and Cheese…and Panko


This is the last in a series of posts featuring Kikkoman panko crumbs (though it will hardly be the last time I use them!) Special thanks to Kikkoman for sponsoring this series.

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Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal

Posted by in Baking, Step-by-Step Recipes

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

This recipe was one of those lucky, spur-of-the-moment creations. We had some very ripe peaches that desperately needed to be used. However, there weren’t nearly enough to go into a pie or a crisp. Thus, Fruit-on-the-Bottom Baked Oatmeal was born of necessity.

In all honesty, I did not expect it to turn out. I shoved the pan into the oven and wondered if the fruit would finish cooking by the time the oatmeal was golden. To my surprise, I had created something utterly scrumptious. Warm fruit on the bottom, sweet, hearty oatmeal in the middle, crunchy almonds on top. The perfect breakfast treat for a chilly fall or cold winter morning. Served with good vanilla ice cream, this could easily be a dessert.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Here’s what you’ll need: fruit of choice (apples, pears, and peaches are good choices), whole milk, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla extract, butter, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sweetener of choice (I like maple sugar or demerara), and sliced almonds.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Peel and slice your fruit. I love perfectly ripe peaches. Pour 1/4 cup butter into the bottom of a square baking dish. Arrange the fruit on the bottom. Sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

In a medium bowl, mix together milk, maple syrup, eggs, remaining butter and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix very well. Pour over the fruit and smooth the top.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Sprinkle some almonds on top.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Sprinkle the almonds with a couple tablespoons of sugar.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Bake at 350°F for 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Don’t you want to dig in? But wait. It gets better:

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Serve with heavy whipping cream, milk, or (my personal favorite) a vanilla sauce.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.


Tasty Kitchen Blog: Fruit on the Bottom Baked Oatmeal. Guest post and recipe from Erica Kastner of Cooking for Seven.

Notes: You can customize this recipe in many ways. Use pecans or walnuts instead of almonds. Use almond extract instead of vanilla. Switch up the fruit. Pears are wonderful. If using apples, make sure to slice them very thinly or they will be crunchy. I have never tried berries, but I’m sure they’d be splendid.


Printable Recipe

Fruit-on-the-Bottom Baked Oatmeal

See post on Erica Lea’s site!
4.80 Mitt(s) 15 Rating(s)15 votes, average: 4.80 out of 515 votes, average: 4.80 out of 515 votes, average: 4.80 out of 515 votes, average: 4.80 out of 515 votes, average: 4.80 out of 5

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Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 7


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A delicious breakfast treat composed of fruit on the bottom, oatmeal in the middle, and crunchy nuts on top.


  • ¾ cups Butter, Divided
  • 1-½ cup Thinly Sliced Fruit
  • 4 Tablespoons Demerara Sugar Or Sucanat, Divided
  • ½ cups Whole Milk
  • ⅔ cups Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 2-½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ⅓ cups Sliced Almonds

Preparation Instructions

*Peaches, pears and apples are good choices. If using apples, make sure to slice them thinly or they will be crunchy.

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Melt butter; pour 1/4 cup into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish. Arrange sliced fruit on top of the butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons demerara. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together milk, maple syrup, eggs, remaining 1/2 cup butter and vanilla.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour over the fruit and smooth the top. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining 2 tablespoons demerara.
4. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 50 minutes, or until browned on top and fruit is bubbly. Allow to cool slightly. Serve with milk, cream or vanilla sauce.


Erica Berge shares her wonderful recipes and amazing food photography on her blog, Cooking for Seven. She also writes about crafts and posts more of her beautiful photography in her personal blog, There really isn’t much that this amazing young lady can’t do, and we’re thrilled she does some of it here.


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Great Zukes!

Posted by in The Theme Is...

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Great Zukes!

Are you one of those fortunate souls with great-yielding gardens and have you found yourself wondering what to do with all that zucchini growing in your backyard? Or perhaps you’ve noticed the copious amounts of fresh-looking inexpensive zucchini in your grocery store and wished you could figure out new ways to use them in your meal plan. If so, then wonder no more because today, we’re all about the zukes!

Zucchini (or courgette in some parts of the world) is a wonderfully versatile … fruit. Yes, you heard it. You’re a fruit, zuke. Yes, I know people usually cook you like a vegetable, but (men, now would be a good time to avert your eyes and ears) since you are, botanically speaking, the ovary of the zucchini flower, that makes you a fruit. But don’t worry. You’re not alone. Maybe the tomato will give you the name of its therapist.

Since zukes are commonly prepared as a vegetable, I thought we’d start with some of the wonderful salads and side dishes we have here that feature the great zuke.


Tasty Kitchen Blog: Great Zukes! (Salads and Sides)Top row, left to right: Zucchini Cakes from DetzelPretzel, aka Pastor Ryan, Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan & Pine Nuts from The Noshery, and Stuffed Zucchini from italianfoodforever. Middle row, left to right: Zucchini and Corn with Basil from polwig, Greek Stuffed Zucchini with Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese & Tomato Sauce from cookincanuck, and Zucchini Toss from italianfoodforever. Bottom row, left to right: Zucchini, Tomato & Gorgonzola Puff Pastry Tarts from cookincanuck, Glorified Zucchini Casserole from jlclawson, and Beautiful Baked Squash from Karenpie.

Zucchini can also make for a great main course, either in a supporting role or as the main attraction. It can be sliced into long strips and used as a low carb stand-in for pasta, or hollowed out and stuffed with all kinds of good things. It’s a great addition to pasta, quiches, omelets, and lasagna. You can throw it in your stir-fries or quick sautes with your favorite protein. It cooks in no time and so is a wonderful choice for those quick and easy meals.


Tasty Kitchen Blog: Great Zukes! (Main Course)Clockwise from top left: Polenta Lasagna from myrecessionkitchen, Zucchini Ribbon Risotto from whatsgabycooking, Lemon Pasta with Zucchini and Feta from Tracy (sugarcrafter), Pizza Stuffed Zucchini from golokitchen, Grilled Zucchini and Ham Pita Panini with Basil Hummus from Natalie (Perry’s Plate), Chicken Parmigiana with Zucchini Noodles from The Noshery, Zucchini Absorption Pasta from The Culinary Passport, and Zucchini Pie from Karenpie.

Zukes are also a great choice for snacks, and either fried or grilled. Since their taste is not overpowering, they pair well with the flavors you use to coat them. Kids who don’t normally like the green stuff may have a hard time resisting them when presented in the delicious ways you see below. And your guests’ eyes will light up when they see you bringing a platter of those grilled zucchini fries to a table, with freshly grated cheese on top.


Tasty Kitchen Blog: Great Zukes! (Snack)Clockwise from top left: Fried Zucchini Strings from Renee Wise, Baked Zucchini Fries and Cheddar Fried Squash from jodiemo, Zucchini Fritters with Goat Cheese from A Cozy Kitchen, and Grilled Zucchini Fries from patiodaddio.

Of course, savory is not the only way to go with zukes. The most popular sweet use of zucchini is in bread. Quick breads, to be exact. As mentioned earlier, their taste is subtle, and so some folks may not even realize there’s a veg–—sorry, I meant fruit—in there. Throw some chocolate in, and that’s it. It’s officially irresistible.


Tasty Kitchen Blog: Great Zukes! (Quick Bread)Clockwise from top left: Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread with Dried Cherries and Sunflower Seeds from glutenfreegirl, Vegan Pumpkin Zucchini Bread from Jessica at Kohler Created, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread from cuttingedge, Orange Pecan Zucchini Bread for Doorsteps Everywhere from Food for My Family, Chocolate Zucchini Bread from oneordinaryday, and Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese-Sour Cream Frosting from whiteonricecouple.

It was only a matter of time before zukes made their way from bread to other baked goods. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, they’ve all managed to welcome the zuke, identity crisis and all, with open arms.


Tasty Kitchen Blog: Great Zukes! (Baked Treats)Clockwise from top left: Zucchini Swirl Bundt Cake from europegirl87, Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake from Tracy (sugarcrafter), Zucchini Cupcakes from manda2177, Almost Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Nut Muffins from ontheroadjanet, Chocolate Zucchini Fudge Cake from manda2177, Pineapple Zucchini Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from lindainmo, Chocolate Chip Zucchini Mini-Muffins (Gluten Free) from elanaspantry, and Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies from thewaspyredhead.

And there you have it, a tribute to the great zuke! (That sounds like it needs a red cape and bullet-reflecting wrist bands, doesn’t it?) We showed you 36 different ways to use zucchini, from savory to sweet, which is only a small portion of what you’ll find here at Tasty Kitchen.

How about you? What’s your favorite way to enjoy the great zuke?


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Meet Amy Locurto

Posted by in Meet the Member!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Meet Amy Locurto.

She’s a creative mom of two from Dallas, Texas who owns a design and photography business, is co-founder, designer and editor of a popular photography website, contributes holiday content for Disney, and offers printables in her online shop. She also happens to have grown up in the town where Ree lives now. In fact, she spent Fourth of July this year watching Marlboro Man and his brother blow up the county with fireworks! Let’s all say hello to Amy Locurto, and in case her hearing hasn’t been the same since that pyrotechnic display, let’s say it a little loudly!

Amy was one of our very first members here at Tasty Kitchen. She confesses that she blogs too much and carries her camera wherever she goes, to the annoyance of her family. Amy is the co-founder of I Heart Faces, a fun photography website that has grown into quite a community and resource for thousands of photography enthusiasts. Her graphic design work has given her the opportunity to create content for such big names as Reader’s Digest, Disney, and Blissfully Domestic. Her blog, Living Locurto, is where her whimsical side runs free, and she offers all kinds of cute printables and creative ideas there, including printable weekly meal plans with a grocery list.

Her dishes are not just all about cute, mind you. Look at the great meal ideas waiting to be discovered in her recipe box.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Meet Amy Locurto.Clockwise from top left: Cheesy Chicken Muffins, Minty Fresh Summer Chicken & Rice, Mini Barbeque Beef Pies, and BBQ Chicken Soft Tacos.

One of her dreams is to go on a Mediterranean cruise, which is easy to understand especially after finding out that her quick meal of choice is hummus, olives, and pita bread, and her favorite food pairing of the moment is feta cheese and kalamata olives. Her go-to meal? Pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic. Yes, I think a Mediterranean cruise seems like the next logical step, and I hope it means we end up getting more incredible light dishes like her Greek Chicken Pasta Salad below.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Meet Amy Locurto.Clockwise from top left: Easy Avocado Taco Salad, Cilantro Salmon Patties, Corn and Avocado Salad, and Greek Chicken Pasta Salad.

Amy loves her coffee and it’s the one ingredient she needs to always have in her home. She loves to bake and her red KitchenAid mixer is her absolute favorite kitchen tool. Just look at what it helps her make!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Meet Amy Locurto.Clockwise from top left: Dark Chocolate Cookies, Fresh Blackberry Cake, and The Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Of course, someone as creative as Amy has got to have some really cool party ideas, and her Easy Chocolate Candy Caramel Apples are just one of the many fun party ideas you’ll see in her blog.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Meet Amy Locurto (Easy Chocolate Candy Caramel Apples)

Other fun facts about Amy: she used to be a cowgirl and won ribbons in rodeos (ask her who taught her how to ride), she went to high school with Marlboro Man and still thinks he’s great, she was run over by a big station wagon with wood grain panels (twice!), and once received a prank call from Charles Barkley. She admits that she had 4-inch high bangs in the 80s and was on MTV for 30 seconds. (Maybe if we all ask nicely, she’ll show us some photos of that.)

Yes, those and even more strange things really did happen to her! One of them involves fire and a snake, and because snakes make me shudder, I’ll let her tell the story. Take it away, Amy!

Q: What do you enjoy most about cooking?
A: I enjoy the creativity of making something from scratch, the aromas, and the entertaining that goes along with cooking.  

Q: Any favorite chefs or food celebrities?
A: My Great-Grandma Chunkie could make the best pies ever. She was my celebrity chef when I was a kid. Now, I LOVE Italian food and Giada De Laurentiis is a favorite of mine. Also, Curtis Stone is a total hottie. I can’t help but love his dishes.

Q: Who inspires you?
A: Bakerella inspires me with her amazing creations. If I met her, I’d be totally giddy. She makes me want to bake all the time. I think I’ve gained at least 10 pounds since discovering her web site last year. Thanks a lot Bakerella!

Q: Any strange foods or food combinations that you really enjoy?
A: I just discovered that if you eat an Easter Peep and an M&M at the same time, it’s heaven.

Q: Any memorable kitchen disasters you’d like to share?
A: Years ago, I hosted a wedding shower and several out-of-town guests. In preparation for my party, I preheated the oven … not knowing there was a pizza box still in it! Twenty minutes later the house was full of smoke, fire alarms were going off and fire was coming out of the oven! EEK! One of my house guests called 911 while another sprayed a fire extinguisher in my oven, all of this while I about fainted! Luckily the party was outside and my new neighbor let me use her oven because mine was full of cheap fire extinguisher ashes. Nothing else exciting happened until the guests were leaving and discovered a snake on my front porch! That was a party to remember for sure.

Q: Is there an ingredient or kitchen technique that gives you grief? Aside from pizza boxes hiding in the oven?
A: Pie crust! I am the worst dough roller, pie crust shaper ever. Grandma Chunkie would be so disappointed if she was still alive.

Q: Give us one of your favorite kitchen tips that you wish you’d always known.
A: Get a fancy mixer and your cakes and cookies look and taste WAY better.


Thanks, Amy! You had my full attention there. Except maybe for the few minutes when I almost bolted out of the room after you mentioned that snake on the porch.

Amy has such lovely dishes in her Tasty Kitchen recipe box but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Head to her blog, Living Locurto, for an even fuller view of just how creative this lady is, and if you love photography, you’d do well to check out the wonderful community she’s helped build at I Heart Faces.


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Amaretti Semifreddo with Chocolate and Toasted Almonds

Posted by in Step-by-Step Recipes

Help me welcome our new guest contributor,

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Bacon Tomato Capellini

Posted by in Step-by-Step Recipes

  As I was perusing the Tasty Kitchen offerings, this Bacon Tomato Capellini recipe jumped out at me. It actually jumped out of the screen, grabbed me by the neck, and forced me to make it. Bacon has that way about it, a mysterious, addicting, intoxicating way that grips you at the core and won’t […]

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Breakfast Eggs in 20 Minutes or Less

Posted by in The Theme Is...

  ‘Tis the season for heading back to school, and you know what that means: waking up early, taking turns in the bathroom, and last-minute “Mom, where are my shoes? I’ll be late!” panicked pleas. The last thing you want to do is spend too much time making the kind of breakfast that’ll see them […]

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Meet Tina

Posted by in Meet the Member!

  We’ve got another lovely southern lady to introduce to you and although she hasn’t lived in the South her whole life, she’s a country girl through and through. Let’s all give a warm welcome to Tina, known to us here as Mommy’s Kitchen! Tina, who has this wonderful blog called Mommy’s Kitchen, lives in […]