Janet K. Keeler, Times Food and Travel Editor

Janet K. Keeler

Janet K. Keeler is the food and travel editor of the Tampa Bay Times. She is an adjunct instructor in the Journalism and Media Studies Department of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, from which she holds a master's degree. Keeler is also the author of Cookielicious: 150 Fabulous Recipes to Bake and Share. She joined the Times in 1992.

Phone: (727) 893-8586

Email: jkeeler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @RoadEats

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  1. We want your Christmas cookie recipes

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    In some circles, the number 13 is bad luck.

    But for the Keeler elves and the many folks who enjoy cookies, we expect the Tampa Bay Times' 13th annual Christmas cookie issue to be the best one yet. After all, 13 is a baker's dozen, and that means there should be some extra treats this year.

    Now for your part, because it's you, dear readers, who power this thing.

    It's time to send in your favorite holiday cookie recipes for the baking-obsessed elves to test. Send as many recipes as you'd like — for bars, drops or cutouts; with nuts or without; iced, plain or sprinkled; gingerbread, peppermint or chocolate. The more we've got to choose from, the better the final selections. ...

    24. Coconut krispies drops
  2. Explore South Florida's global love affair with mangoes

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    CORAL GABLES

    Noris Ledesma is amused.

    The curator of tropical fruit at Fair­child Tropical Botanic Garden is explaining the difference between how people in her native Colombia eat mangoes and the meticulous way they are peeled and consumed in the United States.

    You get your knives and your napkins, she told a packed house at a presentation at the 22nd annual International Mango Festival in July at Fairchild, and you carefully cut the fruit off center to miss the thin elliptical pit, score the halves, then flip them inside out and scrape out the cubes of fruit....

    Among the mangoes for sale at the International Mango Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables were Champagne, Lippens, Edward, Mallika, and Ruby. These mangoes originated in other parts of the world, but were all grown at Fairchild’s groves.
  3. #CookClub bonus: Triple Berry Upside Down Cake

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    When summer rolls around, Jackie Garvin, founder of the Syrup & Biscuits blog ( syrupandbiscuits.com), gets to thinking about berries. But here is the cool thing about her Triple Berry Upside Down Cake — you can use frozen berries so you're able to make it any time of the year.

    Garvin, who lives in Valrico, Fla., is a Southern cook so her upside down cake is made in a cast-iron skillet. If you don't have one (you should get one!), you can use a deep 9-inch cake pan. The results won't be exactly the same, but I am sure your guests will eat it up. One thing you need to be wary of is that the cast-iron skillet will hold the heat for quite a long time after it comes out of the oven. Drap a hot pad over the handle to remind yourself. ...

    [Photo courtesy of Jackie Garvin]
  4. Chef Wolfgang Puck brings home the bacon at HSN

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    Wolfgang Puck loves rice pudding. It's what was for breakfast back home at Grandma's house in Austria, he says into the camera. • The rock star chef is double-dipping into the turquoise 3-cup portable rice cooker that he's hawking Friday morning on HSN. Coincidentally, that's the first color of six to sell out. Actually, it's not really a coincidence. Lots of people behind the scenes know how the rice cookers are doing, thanks to screens mounted in various places that display a running ticker of units sold. When something is hot, the host and guest stick with it. • Watching Puck eat from the turquoise unit? Money in the bank. • Puck was on air at HSN for a total of eight hours over 24 — four two-hour shows — starting Thursday at midnight, and the cash register was cha-chinging all day. ...

    HSN host Robin Wall and Wolfgang Puck show off a chicken that was prepared in the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven, in back, Friday. Puck owns 22 upscale restaurants and 45 cafes worldwide.
  5. Easy Weeknight Meals: Lemon Tortellini with Toasted Crumbs and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    Lemon Tortellini With Toasted Crumbs (recipe below) makes great use of frozen filled pasta. Toasted bread crumbs and a lemon-butter sauce jazz it all up. Spinach and berry salad on the side, topped with toasted almonds and a fruity vinaigrette.

    Tues | Fancy fish

    Bourbon-Glazed Salmon on the grill is a quick way to make dinner, providing the summer thunderstorms have subsided. Marinate salmon in a mixture of ½ cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons bourbon, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice plus salt and pepper to taste. Grill over direct heat about 5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of fish. Garnish with chopped scallions. Serve with rice and roasted asparagus....

  6. A gracious cook gives lessons in making pies

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    VALRICO

    Jackie Garvin is moving the pie dough around like a pro. She rolls it calmly, quickly, assertively. When it sticks, she lets it know who's boss and peels back a corner to shuffle a bit more flour underneath. And then she continues, her grandmother's spirit embodied in her old rolling pin, which Garvin uses faithfully.

    Before long — well before the specks of butter can melt — she's got the dough fitted into a 9-inch pie pan. A bowl of sweetened peach filling is at the ready, and so is another ball of dough that will form the top crust. It all comes together and goes back into the fridge to chill before baking....

    Jackie Garvin glazes her Rustic Tomato Pie with half-and-half and then seasons it with salt and pepper. For her peach pie, she uses granulated sugar.
  7. Easy weeknight meals: Turkey Kebabs with Tzatziki Couscous Salad and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    Roasted Veggie Wraps with brown rice and feta get a flavorful boost from fresh mint or basil, whatever you've got on hand. Cut zucchini, onions, green and/or red peppers and mushrooms in similar sizes, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes. While veggies are roasting, make rice. Roll roasted veggies with brown rice and feta cheese in wrap of your choice. Top with fresh mint or basil leave. Feel like you need a sauce? Mix Greek yogurt with minced garlic and drizzle on top of mixture before you wrap....

  8. #CookClub recipe No. 21: The Best of Vermont Burger (w/video)

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    Okay, you can say I am a sore loser. I am still bitter that my recipe submission for the 2008 Sutter Home Build a Better Burger contest in California's Napa Valley was snubbed.

    I continue to maintain that my Best of Vermont Burger with maple bacon, thick slices of cheddar and green apple slaw is a winner. I throw it to the #CookClub to be the judge.

    I had never entered a recipe contest before, mostly because many of them bar food professionals. Contest people figure a journalist who writes about food for a living has an unfair advantage. Well, I guess that didn't matter much....

    The Best of Vermont Burger, entered by Times Food and Travel Editor Janet Keeler, in the "Build a Better Burger Contest, sponsored by Sutter Home.
  9. Easy weeknight meals: Mexican Tossed Salad and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    Mexican Tossed Salad (recipe below) is a twist on your typical green salad, using tortilla chips instead of croutons. The addition of jicama and cilantro are two more Latin flavor boosts. It's a versatile vegetarian recipe that can be augmented with cooked shrimp or chicken for those of other dietary persuasions.

    Tues | Bowl of food...

  10. Readers share packing and money-saving travel tips

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    Thinking about going on a trip is exciting. For many of us, getting ready is not. • There is an avalanche of decisions to make. How many shirts and pairs of pants? Which shoes are the most comfortable? Checked baggage or carry-on? What kind of electronics to bring? How much money to take, and in what form should I get it? • Last month, we asked readers to share their travel tips, from ways to save money to packing suggestions. What a resourceful bunch you are — and sometimes picky and even a bit worried, especially about being ripped off. The reader who suggested that travelers should not go out at night lest they risk getting mugged, or worse, has had some terrible experiences, I am betting. • The suggestions reminded me of how differently we all look at preparing for a trip, and how what's important to one person might be left to chance by another. For instance, Anita Faye Glock of Tampa never travels without flip-flops to use as slippers in the hotel, as relief from walking shoes that give her blisters and for trudging through wet weather if it's not too cold. I only travel with flip-flops if I think I'm going to get a pedicure. Different strokes, as the saying goes. • Here's a selection of other reader tips, all of which obviously come from experience....

  11. What do we think of most when we travel? Our underwear

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    Now we are going to mention unmentionables. In a word, underwear.

    It's something travelers think about more than you'd think. Especially women. Multiple pairs take up precious space in luggage, they say. Dirty ones even more (unless you're a member of the Thong Generation).

    A recent article in the New York Times travel section suggested that you pack no underwear at all, and buy new undergarments on your trip. The company Exofficio (exofficio.com) markets a magic pair of undies, suggesting that just one might suffice for a long trip. One!...

    [iStockphoto.com]
  12. Easy weeknight meals: Grilled Lemon Chicken With Tomato Salad and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    Simple White Bean and Fennel Soup comes together so quickly it won't heat up the kitchen much on a hot summer day. To make it, saute 1 diced onion and 1 small sliced fennel bulb in oil until tender. Add 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1 (14-ounce) can each drained cannellini beans and diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, salt and pepper to taste and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until fennel is tender. Discard bay leaf. Add 3 cups spinach and cook until wilted. ...

  13. #CookClub recipe No. 20: Cherry Tomato Focaccia

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    I know I might be asking a lot of you, but #CookClub recipe No. 20 calls for making your own bread dough. With yeast. It needs to rise for an hour. Twice.

    But Cherry Tomato Focaccia is worth the effort. It's gorgeous and delicious, plus there's plenty of room for tinkering. You'll know what I mean when you read the accompanying recipe.

    (If you're nervous about using yeast, watch this week's #CookClub video at tampabay.com/cooking. I show you how to make sure the yeast you're using is still good. Dead yeast = flat bread.)...

    #CookClub recipe #20 is Cherry Tomato Focaccia made with homemade dough.
  14. 25 ways to dress up corn on the cob

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    There may not be any other food that screams Fourth of July cookout more than corn on the cob.

    It goes with everything — burgers, steaks, chicken, hot dogs — plus it doesn't require utensils, unless you count those cute cob holders. I simply use my hands and just have extra napkins at the ready. Toothpicks, too. It could also be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal, piled high with grated cheeses....

    Bacon-Cheddar corn on the cob: Once you’ve grilled, boiled or roasted your corn, dress it up. 
A mayonnaise, bacon and cheese blend lends flavor to these kernels.
  15. Easy weeknight meals: Rosemary-Peach Chicken Kebabs With Orange Glaze and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    Gnocchi With Pesto is a fine celebration of summer and can be served hot or at room temperature. If you're lucky enough to come across a fresh bunch of basil or two, make your own pesto. If not, buy some at the store, usually stocked in the aisle with the pastas and sauces. Garnish the dressed gnocchi — Italian potato pasta curls — with lots of Parmesan cheese. This dish begs for a veggie-ful green salad on the side....