A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Posts tagged “easy recipe

Just Put It Out There

It’s the weekend, you’ve got to go places and get things done.  Wake up a little early and enjoy the peace of morning while you quietly prep this beautiful fruit salad.  100_1851

  • Peel and dice one ripe mango
  • Peel and supreme slice one orange with the juice
  • cut up 6 or 7 strawberries in chunks
  • cut 1 cup red grapes in halves
  • garnish with fresh sprigs of mint

It will be there in its colorful, healthy, fruity, sparkling splendor when everyone gets up. It goes great with home made yogurt if you happen to have some. Now go relax. Breakfast, done!


You Won’t Eat this and Think about Cabbage…or Money

Eureka! I have found a recipe that is brimming with health benefits for mere pocket change. Cabbage casserole, how did I never come across such a delicious AND nutritious casserole??  In one of my late night Pinterest “How to Install a Natural Water Feature” moments I made one more click to a recipe off on the sidelines.  I saw a beautiful, colorful, 7 ingredient recipe of pure healthy genius; an I-have-all-the-ingredients-in-the-fridge-and-pantry meal serving up to six.  Click! and my life changed.

I don’t remember the pin. I had to go to bed because the recipes can easily turn me into a wee-hour Pinterest zombie.  This is what I remember and it worked out fine…so fine:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil in a deep heavy pot
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 head of large red cabbage sliced in thin strips (you will want to make it again with the other half at the end of the week)
  • 1/2 bunch collard greens (about 5 leaves stemmed and sliced chiffonade style
  • 1 Tsp Steak seasoning plus a couple of pinches
  • 6 oz hand shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 100_1776Preheat oven to 375°. Dice your onion, slice the cabbage and chiffonade the greens and keep them in separate piles. Heat the oil until it shimmers on the bottom of the pot.  Add your onion and cook on high heat until they are clear and beginning to brown. Brown the ground beef with a teaspoon of the steak seasoning. Add the piles of cabbage and greens and simmer until the mixture softens down to about a third its volume.  Give it a good stir.

Empty the pot into  a 9″x 9″ casserole dish and spread it evenly.  Top with your pepper cheese and sprinkle a pinch or two of the steak seasoning around on top sprinkle a little Parmesan to brown the top nicely, then bake for 20 minutes.

It’s fast, it’s delicious, it’s easy, it’s delicious it’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s affordable, it’s delicious!
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Streamlined Yogurt Making

All you need is a microwave oven, a Mason jar and a thermometer that goes to 200°F (93.3C), a quart of whole milk (better if it is antibiotic, hormone and GMO free), and about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or the same size sample from a batch of previously home made yogurt.  Using the microwave saves you the extra step and clean-up of a pan on the stove. This method is so easy you may never need to purchase the expensive stuff from the store ever again!

Step one: Have your 1/4 cup sample of yogurt ready to “seed” the quart of milk in your pre-sanitized Mason jar (boil half a quart of water in it prior, then cool it by slowly add the milk).  The milk in the mason jar goes into the microwave for approximately 5 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 180° (82.2C).  Stir occasionally to ensure even temperature top to bottom and skim light skin when it appears.

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Just needs another minute…

Step two: Cool the scalded milk back to a temperature you would be comfortable bathing in; about 110°F (43.3C). Add the culture; about a quarter cup of plain yogurt from an earlier batch, or you could use a sample of store-bought plain Greek yogurt; the more organic the better.  Not all commercial yogurts are created equal but FAGE is a brand highly recommended for taste and quality ingredients if you need to go that route for your culture. About half of a single serving tub is sufficient. Stir it in, mix well and screw on the lid.  As long as you make the next quart of yogurt from your own stock you will never have to purchase yogurt from the store again!  The taste and quality of home made is superior to anything mass produced.

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The Cool-down and the Culture

Step three: Set the jar somewhere it won’t be disturbed but will stay warm the whole day; about 10 to 12 hours.  Because it’s summer the temperature outside is perfect for culturing yogurt; about 90°F (32.2C) average.  As long as the temperature stays between 80° and 100° it will be fine. This temperature range is the perfect temperature for the lactic acid producing bacteria to thrive and multiply causing the milk  to thicken but not curdle. Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus are the common strains of bacteria which produce a creamy, thick, gut-health boosting yogurt.  If you start this process at 7:00 a.m., by 7:00 p.m. the bacteria will have done its job. Watch the temperature outside carefully that it stays within the range I mentioned earlier.  In this case the temperature outside was 80°F by 8:00 a.m. when the cooking and cooling was done and that was perfect.  It got to the mid 90°s and by 7:00 p.m. it was 85°;  again, perfect.

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Set it out in the Hot Summer Breeze

Step four: Now put the jar in the refrigerator overnight and by 5:00 a.m. or so the next day you will have a delicious creamy, tangy, treat to eat for breakfast.  If your end product is too thin you can strain the whole jar of its whey in a strainer with cheesecloth or a large coffee filter until it is the consistency you desire.

Bonus: Don’t throw out the whey!  It can be used in soups, mashed potatoes, smoothies, etc…anything you usually add milk and water to will get a boost of protein and added flavor, plus the probiotic benefit.

The Greek yogurt business is in the 1.7 billion range today.  I really get a kick out of taking away at least one customer.  At the store at nearly $2.00 per serving you get 7 oz of a product in a plastic tub with an aluminum lid glued to it and who knows what else added. Give this pure and simple method a try!  You too will keep that money in your own pockets and be so much more satisfied with the taste, and the knowledge of exactly what you are eating from a sterilized glass jar.  Take charge!  I’m having mine with chunks of home-grown tomatoes. YUMMO!100_1718


Oven Fried Catfish with Homemade Tartar Sauce

I dread frying anything for two reasons.  One, the calories; even though back in my restaurant employment days the executive chef told me over and over, “Fat equals flavor.”  He wasn’t lying but I found a way around that conundrum in this recipe.

The second reason for my disinclination is the greasy mess to clean up in the end.  Why not contain the mess in a pan rather than wipe down a multitude of surfaces including the range hood.  I can do without all the acrobatics this late in the evening.

100_1468A while ago I found a super deal on catfish nuggets at the store.  It was locally caught and freshly frozen…I could tell, so I jumped on a five pound bag of those babies.  About one and a half pounds were gently thawed in the microwave then placed in a container of milk to soak.  In the food processor I pulsed about a cup of corn bread stuffing mix with a tablespoon of butter and a glug or two of olive oil.  I added another 2/3 cup of crispy panko 100_1469breadcrumbs into a large enough plastic bag where I combined all the crumbs.  The fish was dropped into the bag in batches and shook until well coated then laid out skin-side-down in a baking pan (and a pie plate because there was more than I thought).

With an oven preheated to 450°F, I let the fish bake for about 25 minutes.  Without the fuss of turning and possibly getting burned from popping grease, I removed the fish from the oven and let them cool down slightly.

While they cooled I quickly whipped up a tasty tartar sauce to accompany this crispy delight with the following:

  • 100_14784 round tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tarragon, freshly chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely minced red onion
  • 1 tbsp sweet pickle relish
  • salt and pepper to taste

As I plated up dishes for the family the fish was very delicate and flaky, not over greasy.  Because of the butter and oil I added to the crumbs, they toasted up nicely and tasted like grandma’s deep south recipe; all the flavor of fried fish.  As a bonus this diva doesn’t have to worry about an extra 120 or so calories.  It’s been a good day.

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Dehydrated Vegetables Make Delicious White Bean Chicken Chili

If you are one of the folks who dehydrate food to save money, storage space and preserve the wonderful taste of summer, this recipe is for you.  The growing season is not quite here where I live but my desire for that home grown taste sure is. Since we dehydrated our green peppers and onions from last year we have the taste and all the goodness ready to reconstitute in a pot of white bean chicken chili.

100_1210To make this sumptuous meal we used the following:

  • 2  boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup dehydrated onions
  • 14 cup dehydrated green peppers
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can great northern beans.

To begin,  I thaw the chicken breasts and get a stock pot to reconstitute the vegetables.  In the 2 cups of water I add the onions, peppers, (you could use fresh vegetables and dice them) and all the spices.  I cut the chicken into strips and add them to the boiling liquid.  100_1211The heat is turned down to a simmer and I put a lid on it and let it go for about 15 minutes. When the chicken is firm to touch I remove it to a plate to rest until it is cool enough to handle.  By now the vegetables are back to their re-hydrated state and have imparted their flavor to the broth and the chicken along with the spices

100_1215When the chicken is cooled I shred it into bite size pieces and add it back to the broth.  I add the whole can of beans with the liquid and everything.  This simmers for about 20 minutes.  I adjust the liquid because re-hydrating vegetables drinks up quite a bit of it.  I also adjust the spices and salt at this time.

100_1218Now we are ready to have a delicious lunch before we tackle the preparations for the coming year’s garden.  This meal makes our plans clear to grow more onions and peppers.  There will also be tomatoes, beans, and all kinds of herbs.  All these foods will feed us throughout summer and what we don’t eat we will can and dehydrate to get us through the next winter.

T100_1225he best part of this chili and most dishes using dehydrated food, no fat is added to get it back to an edible state.  All you need is water.  A bowl of this chili contains about 4 grams of fat and all of the protein you need for the day.  This dish would be great with vegetables sauteed in olive oil but bikini season will be here before we know it!

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Creamy Mushroom and Leek Soup

These wintry days call for warm soothing meals at home.  Soup  with savory leeks and mushrooms in a creamy broth is the ticket.  Leeks are of the mildest among the onion family.  They cook up to be so tender and tasty and paired with the mild taste of mushrooms, this soup will melt away those chilly winds and give you plenty of energy to shovel the sidewalk yet again.  It’s so easy to make too.  All you need are:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks cleaned and chopped in 1/4 inch slices
  • 5 mushrooms (any kind) thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 quart low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup cream (I used heavy)
  • 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First saute the leeks and mushrooms in the olive oil until  tender.  Add the garlic and stir it in to bloom the flavor  Add the broth, milk and cream and stir in the potato flakes.  Stir in the remaining seasonings and let it simmer about 3 minutes.

Now at least six of you can have a nice hearty bowl of soup to warm you up all over.  For extra hardiness you could add some left over chicken cut into cubes  or add more pepper flakes to clear the sinuses during a nasty cold.  This soup will provide relief and give you energy to muddle on through all that snow.100_1118


When it’s 12° Only Soup Will Do

100_1038In the Region of Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy the tortellini was born.  It is unclear why it is named tortellini; perhaps because of the architectural structures using a tortoise shell for inspiration but also the pasta is called little navels (ombelico) reminding some of the navel of Venus.

This divine reference is perfect for how this tortellini soup tasted and warmed us through and through tonight.  I think Venus herself might have relished this soup.   Just smelling it cook gives one a feeling of warmth.

If you would like to warm up the same way just gather these ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced100_1042
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 scallion, sliced thinly
  • a pinch each of salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 lb pork sausage or ground turkey (turkey will need Italian seasoning)
  • one 15 oz. can diced regular or roasted tomato
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3 cans (from the tomatoes) water
  • 1/2 package thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/2 lb fresh 3 cheese tortellini

First, in a dutch oven or stock pot saute the onion, m100_1045ushrooms, garlic and scallion in olive oil until the onions brown a bit. Brown off the meat, add seasoning if necessary, then add the tomatoes with the juice to 100_1048deglaze the bottom of the pot.  Add the stock, cans of water, and bouillon cubes and stir.  When 100_1046the spinach is thawed remove half from the box and put it on a paper towel.  At the sink squeeze out as much liquid as possible, open the towel and place the spinach in the pot and stir until it breaks apart.  Let the soup come to a boil, add the tortellini and 100_1047let it boil for about 5 minutes or until the tortellini it is tender.

This only takes a little more time than boiling a big pot of water but instead of just hot water you get a delicious, nutritious body warming soup with such a depth of flavor you won’t believe could happen so fast.  It will fill you up as well.  On a chilly January night what more could one ask?

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