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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 and the founder of #CookClub, an online cooking community. 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. White lasagna is a good make-ahead Christmas Eve meal

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    The question: What can you prepare for Christmas Eve dinner that can be made ahead and eaten whenever? It must be something that will work around the schedules of churchgoers, late arrivers, eager youngsters, adult children making several stops, and last-minute wrappers (or, heaven forbid, shoppers).

    The answer: lasagna.

    This workhorse layered Italian casserole fulfills lots of the requirements for a Christmas Eve dinner. It can be made in advance and stays warm for hours (or is easily reheated) as stragglers come and go. Warm bread on the side and a Caesar salad are fine accompaniments. Pick up Italian pastries, cannoli for one, and set out cookies for dessert. This is a meal that can be eaten in fits and starts, or as a sit-down dinner....

    Brussels Sprouts Lasagna uses sliced Brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Aged or smoked provolone brings gooeyness and flavor.
  2. Easy weeknight meals: Recipe for Turkey Chili and more ideas

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    Christmas Edition

    Mon | Meatless meal

    Your easy Middle Eastern menu will buy you all kinds of time tonight. And time is what we need Christmas week. Make a Tabbouleh Salad using a kit from the natural food aisle and serve with Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Dip and crackers. To make the dip, mix prepared red pepper hummus with feta cheese crumbles and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with some whole roasted almonds and dried apricots....

  3. #CookClub recipe No. 32: Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

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    I like the idea of the overnight breakfast casserole for Christmas morning, but sometimes that's just too much food for a small group.

    And, honestly, leftover egg casserole isn't usually a big draw.

    So cue up #CookClub recipe No. 32, Baked Eggs in Ham Cups.

    I've liked this recipe since the first time I tested it for the Taste section in 2009. I hope you will give it a try and share your photos and comments on Instagram. ...

    The original recipe for Eggs Baked in Ham calls for two eggs, but you can see how the ham cup fell apart with the additional egg. Better to use just one.
  4. Easy weeknight meals: Baked cod with artichokes, olives and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    Open-Face Roasted Veggie Melts pair amiably with steaming mugs of tomato soup. For the veggies, coat strips of red pepper and slices of portobello mushrooms with olive oil and season with coarse salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Set aside. Toast bread and then spread with mixture of mayo and minced garlic. Spoon on roasted veggies and top with slices of Gouda cheese. Broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and a bit browned. ...

  5. On the 12th Day of Christmas Cookies: Black Mountain Cookies

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    There are cookies and then there are Black Mountain Cookies, also known as MRCs, meal replacement cookies.

    Two of these and you don't need to eat dinner. They are that filling and satisfying.

    The chocolate cookie is soft and threaded with chopped walnuts, though pecans would be a worthy substitute.

    After the cookies are done and transferred from the baking sheet to a wire rack, you'll put a marshmallow piece on top. The heat from the cookie will slightly melt the marshmallow and cause it to adhere to the cookie. ...

    26. Black Mountain Cookie
  6. On the 11th day of Christmas Cookies: Oatmeal Carmelita Bars

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    A bar cookie is the answer for our hectic times.

    Mix the ingredients together and then dump them into a baking pan. In about 30 minutes, you've got a finished product ready to be cut into bars. So much quicker than making sheet after sheet of cookies.

    Oatmeal Carmelita Bars might take a wee bit more effort since they have a buttery oatmeal crust that needs to be baked first. It's something like an oatmeal shortbread. Still, this is a straight-forward recipe that's a sure-fire crowd-pleaser....

    Oatmeal Carmelita Bars
  7. On the 10th day of Christmas Cookies: Dipped Gingersnaps

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    How do I love Dipped Gingersnaps? Let me count the ways.

    1. The are impressive looking. The perfectly round cookies crinkle in the most delicious way and the white chocolate hug makes it that much more attractive.

    2. The cookie itself is simple to make and is virtually foolproof. Who has time for cookie slip-ups this time of year? Not me.

    3. It's versatile. Don't have time to dip it in the melted white chocolate? Don't. The gingersnap stands alone just fine....

    /2011 ST. PETERSBURG)  4. Dipped Gingersnaps. FOR TASTE SECTION.   TIMES PHOTO SCOTT KEELER
  8. On the ninth Day of Christmas Cookies: Peppermint Wands

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    Funny story about Peppermint Wands.

    They have the same flavor profile as the famous candy cane cookies, which I find impossible to make. You know the ones. A tender dough is divided in half and one is dyed red (or more likely an unfortunate shade of pink). Then skilled bakers make ropes of dough and wind them together to form a candy cane before baking. Trouble is, mine always fall apart. And those that don't have no uniformity. I also think they taste lousy. There, I said it. ...

    peppermint wands cookies
  9. Easy weeknight meals: Honey-Orange Shrimp With Baby Bok Choy and more

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    Mon | Meatless meal

    A heaping bowl of Greens, White Bean and Potato Soup can see the family through a couple of meals (and maybe a lunch) this week. Drain 2 cans of white beans, mash in a bowl and set aside. Heat some oil in a large soup pot and add diced red bell pepper and onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, then add 4 medium red potatoes, sliced in thick half-moons. Cook for 10 minutes and add a minced garlic clove. Stir in 4 cups vegetable broth, the smashed beans and a few shakes of nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add lots of green (chard, kale or spinach). Simmer for at least 15 minutes. Serve with shaves of Parmesan and crusty bread....

  10. On the eighth Day of Christmas Cookies: Cherry Nut Slices

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    Don't turn your nose up at this cookie.

    Cherry Nut Slices are easily passed over on the cookie platter. They are sort of skinny, maybe too crispy for some. And then there's that whole candied cherry debate. Too sweet, maybe? Too gummy?

    Put your preconceived notions aside and bake this cookie. I promise you won't be disappointed.

    It's a slice-and-bake cookie, which means you can mix the dough, form the logs, wrap and then chill for a day or even more before baking. Slice one log today and another in a few days. As long as they are wrapped well, you'll be good. ...

    21. Cherry Nut Slices Cookie
  11. On the seventh day of Christmas Cookies: Peanut Butter and Jam Bars

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    If you've got kids who love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, they will love these cookies.

    Who are we kidding?

    Anyone who loves the iconic lunch fare of childhood will adore Peanut Butter and Jam Bars.

    They certainly made me want to curl up with an ice-cold glass of milk.

    I won't go so far as saying this is a messy cookie, but it is a bit soft, goopy if you will. Store it in the refrigerator and then let come to room temperature before serving. It will be easier to cut this way....

    Peanut Butter and Jam cookies
  12. On the sixth day of Christmas Cookies: White Chocolate-Orange Dream Cookies

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    I have made these cookies so many times, I feel like I could put them together in my sleep.

    I made them over and over again to bring to book signings when my cookbook Cookielicious (Seaside Publishing) was published in 2010. This is a sturdy cookie that travels (or ships) well, freezes beautifully and has a mix of flavors that everyone seems to like.

    I never brought any home and they were often the first gone from the tin that I toted with me....

    White Chocolate Orange Dreams
  13. #CookClub recipe no. 31: White Clam Chowder (w/ video)

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    For many of us, seafood is on the menu for Christmas Eve. It's luxurious and usually fast, a characteristic that's welcome on such a hectic night.

    At my house, we usually celebrate Florida's bounty with stone crab claws and Gulf of Mexico shrimp. I usually roast the shrimp in a 350-degree oven after lightly coating them with olive oil. A Caesar salad and hot, crusty bread and we're good to go. ...

    #CookClub recipe No. 31 is White Clam Chowder from the Florida cookbook, "Good Catch."
  14. On the fifth day of Christmas Cookies: Mexican Hot-Chocolate Balls

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    These cookies had me at first bite.

    We first tested Mexican Hot-Chocolate Balls in 2009 and they've been on our hit parade ever since.

    Mexican Hot-Chocolate Balls are another variation of the snowball, just like the Pistachio & Cranberry Snowballs, which we featured on day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. Rather than being rolled in white confectioners' sugar, the Hot-Chocolate Balls get an extra dose of chocolate from a dusting of cocoa powder....

    Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
  15. On the fourth day of Christmas cookies: Apricot Bars

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    Apricot Bars had me at versatility.

    An 18-ounce jar of apricot jam is spread over a buttery base of quick oats and flour, among other ingredients. Not a fan of apricot? Substitute peach, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or even mango.

    For Christmas, I like the idea of using a red jam to celebrate the season.

    These resemble the baked fruit dessert called a crumble because some of the base, which is crumbly and pressed into the pan, is reserved and sprinkled over the top. ...

    11. LUCY'S APRICOT BARS COOKIE