A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Posts tagged “life

A Comforting Stew

An enamel cast iron pot is the best tool in the kitchen when making a stew.  Today, looking over the canned tomatoes of last season, I thought they would make a great meal for my hubby who was sleeping to get ready for duty on the midnight shift.  I had two hours to put something together and since it would be a chilly night a comforting stew would get him through it.

In St. Louis we celebrate the pork steak it is a cut from the shoulder which in other regions is called the butt which makes no sense to me whatsoever.  If you slice this butt into steaks there you have it; the pork steak.  It is a very forgiving cut of meat which can be cooked in many ways.  Grilling is a great way to cook them but I didn’t want to go out back at night and contend with the orb weaver spiders that do fast work in the dark putting a web up always at eye level and always somewhere between the door and the grill.  So, inside. I got out the trusty enameled pot, cut up a huge steak into nice sized chunks, seasoned them with a little salt and pepper and seared them in olive oil a bit on each side.

This left a great flavorful browned place to cook off the vegetables.  I removed the meat to the side, added a bit more olive oil and dumped in some nicely diced onion, celery, carrot, bell pepper, mushroom and zucchini, a hand full of fresh spinach and a clove or two of smashed garlic. A touch of Italian herb seasoning got the good smells really going.  They sizzled away in the well heated pot until they all became caramelized a bit.  To cool them down and get that browning rinsed away off the bottom I added a quart of those canned tomatoes still with their summer fresh taste and all that juice. It was easy to chunk them up with a spatula into nice pieces.  With eight different plants in one pot, this stuff has to be good for you!

Next, the meat went back in (chicken could have also been used) and I lowered the flame to a nice low simmer and let it go with a lid on until Jeff got up for work.  A bit groggy, he was slowly roused out of this state with the smells that filled the kitchen.  After suiting up for duty, he was sent on his way with a really nice to-go meal to keep him going until six a.m.

I woke up the next morning to the sweetest hugs and kisses from my favorite policeman on earth.  I know that stew was good and indeed comforting, but dang!

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A Salad You’ve Never Had

I had the munchies and was poking around the kitchen for something sweet and salty and satisfying.  Then this happened:

  • I sliced a nice red delicious apple into match sticks on my fancy new Tupperware mandolin
  • I sliced one rib of celery
  • I added a blop of mayonnaise (about 2 Tbsp) thinned with a splash of apple cider vinegar.
  • Then about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese went in
  • Sprinkled in a bit of Cajun seasoning
  • Added in about an ounce of smoked almonds
  • Mixed it all up and garnished with paprika

Stunning!  The cajun spice and smoky salty almonds were a delightful surprise.  Added with the sweetness of apples, and brightness of the apple cider mayonnaise dressing, the balance I was looking for happened in a super tasty way.

 

My husband and I feasted on this salad as our dinner. It was quite satisfying. No more munchies and best of all no heating up the kitchen on a humid 95° day.

Preparation doesn’t take very long if you have a good mandolin and the main ingredients are fresh produce.  Isn’t that what summer is about?  Earth to table dishes are the best.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Scramble

We all need something to put the steam in our engine for the entire day, so I encourage everyone to try this to give you powerful protein-filled strength tomorrow morning.

The term “cordon bleu” refers to the highest rank of knights instituted by King Henri III of France in 1578.  These knights wore a sash of blue to distinguish themselves and this simple breakfast will bolster you with all the fortitude of which those cordon bleu knights ever dreamed.

In just five minutes you can strengthen you day with these few ingredients:

  • one egg, whisked
  • 2 oz. diced grilled chicken breast
  • 2 oz. diced cooked ham
  • 1 oz. diced or shredded Swiss cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish with fresh spinach

Get a small skillet and pour a whisper of olive oil in and get the heat going until little ripples can be seen in the oil.  Add your meats.  Get them good and warm. Add the egg and the cheese and scramble it all together until the eggs are set.  Shut the flame and let the heat of the pan gently melt the Swiss cheese.  Stir in a tiny pat of butter to finish and tumble it all onto your plate and season to taste.

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This is one of those dishes with that great idiot-proof factor.  No matter your cooking skills, this one can be done on the fly with nothing but the tastiest of results.  If ham, or meat for that matter, isn’t your thing, play around.  Use mushrooms and onions.  Try beef or veal.  You can’t go wrong.  Don’t like cheese?  Use roasted peppers and garlic. What ever you choose, you will have a blue ribbon winning breakfast and the energy of the highest appointed knight to fuel your morning.


Pork Loin Cutlets with Naked Egg Rolls

Cooking any type of cutlet is a simple process in the skillet; add a little oil, season the meat and sear on both sides until slightly firm to the touch.  I seasoned these pork loin cutlets with salt, pepper, a dash of soy sauce and mirin (a sweet white wine vinegar).  You have to be very watchful with a sweet marinate as it burns quickly.

I put four cutlets in the skillet as not to crowd the pan and get too much juice rendering and boil the meat.  You want it to brown nicely on both sides. Again, be attentive.  It only takes a few minutes to get done on high to medium high.  When the meat is nearly done be ready to deglaze with a splash of water and a lid to contain the steam.  Let the meat rest a short time to finish cooking under the lid until it feels like the middle of your out stretched palm, not squishy like the heel of your hand.  Remove the meat to finish resting aside on the counter.  That splash of water really brings the browning off the skillet and gives you a rich bit of brown broth.  I added another splash to get it all.  A little salt and pepper and another dash of soy sauce made about a third cup of sauce to cook the naked egg rolls in.

So what’s a naked egg roll?  It’s all the yummy goodness of the inside of an egg roll without the wrapper.  Here’s what you do:

  • In one big bowl, grate one half a head of cabbage.
  • Grate two medium carrots.
  • Finely dice an onion.
  • Finely dice some celery, leaves and all.  Use at least one rib; two if they are small.
  • Laugh a bit because the above sounds like something Dr. Seus would say.
  • Cook down the prepared vegetables in that third cup of juice and cover with the lid, adding a bit of water every now and then.  You want it to just scorch between water additions and bring out the sweetness of the aromatic veggies.
  • When the vegetables are quite tender and nicely caramelized around the edges lower the heat, beat one egg in a small bowl and pour it over the veggies.
  • Stir everything until the egg is set then add a few good dashes of soy sauce, some pepper, powdered ginger, and powdered garlic to taste (about half a teaspoon each).
  • Put the lid on and let it sit a while with the flame off then fluff it up here and there to distribute the seasoning.
  • Go back to the cutlets and pour the juice that will have collected on the plate into the veggies and stir that good flavor back in the skillet.
  • Plate up and enjoy a healthy, lean, low carb. delicious meal.

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Bonus:  If you don’t use all the cabbage mixture in the bowl you can add

  • about three tablespoons apple cider vinegar,
  • two tablespoons sugar
  • a teaspoon of poppy seed
  • a half teaspoon of salt
  • a healthy dollop of mayonnaise; about a quarter cup.

Stir all that together and let the ingredients marry in the fridge for a great side of coleslaw at your next meal.

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Chicken Tikka Masala the Easy Way

I love Indian food!  It is so full of flavor and aroma but I don’t always have the spices they use on hand.  I don’t know why.  I suppose I’ve been conditioned.  I suppose I’m an American used to a different set of spices.  Well, since they say, “Variety is the spice of life”, the same is true in the variety of spices.  Certain spices make foods come alive.  A little piece of chicken breast can become a masterpiece of taste with the right combination of spice in the sauce.  Places around the world have their unique flavors like Mexican cuisine, Italian, Moroccan, Chinese, Tai; but the Indian spices really are my favorite.  I found a little jar of Tikka Masala simmering sauce on an end-cap at the store and decided to try it. This is what happened.

This little chicken breast got all dressed up with just a few ingredients.

  • First I made cutlets of the chicken; little medallion size pieces seared in a skillet until just firm.  that takes about 3-4 minutes per side
  • Next, I removed the chicken, set it aside and replaced them with a bag of frozen fajita veggies; multi-colored peppers and onion and stir fried them.  That took about ten minutes
  • Then I put in half the jar of the Tikka Masala sauce (about 2/4 cup) and tossed the chicken back in for a swim.
  • Wow! the smell of India just happened!  When everything simmered together for a couple of minutes I was ready to dive in.
  • I plated up a serving and garnished it with raisins, peanuts and a sprinkle of shaved coconut.  YUUUUM!

This magic sauce is made of tomato puree, yogurt, coconut cream and those lovely curry, corriander, cardamom, and garlic spices so prevalent in the Indian cooking.  I’m not a person who goes for pre-fabbed foods and I really want to come up with my own Tikka Masala sauce some day, but this lovely dish took a mere twenty minutes start to finish.  Every bite was such an explosion of flavor!  I hope you try  it.  You won’t be disappointed.


Paleo Pork Fried Rice

It is well known that when one combines carbs and fat regularly in the diet, one tends to gain girth.  Think of the delectable donut…flour and water, fried in grease then glazed with sugar.  Probably the worst food ever; bereft of nutrition but oh so tasty!

Think of pork fried rice.  It consists of a starch fried in grease like the donut without the sugar coating.  Instead, there is some meat and a little vegetation with the carrots, onion.  This is a better food than donuts but still that starch and grease combination is a recipe for putting on the pounds.

A friend told me recently you can purchase cauliflower in rice form today.  I have never seen it where I shop but I traditionally stick to the perimeter of the store where all the natural foods live.  Processed foods can be found by the tons up and down the the aisles.  In my friends description she said this  cauliflower rice is simply shredded.  Well, I happened to have a beautiful head of cauliflower on the counter and I shredded it myself and made a big mixing bowl full of what ended up looking like a fluffy bowl of rice.  No cooking, measuring, timing or turning the kitchen into a steam sauna was required.

Cauliflower is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol, it is also a good source of Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese; a super food.  This is why it is such a great substitute in making a much healthier version of my favorite Chinese delectation.  Six ingredients simmered in a skillet about ten minutes and we’re there but without the carbolicious guilt.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 head of shredded lightly salted cauliflower
  • 2 or so tbsp. Bacon grease
  • 1 medium shredded carrot
  • 3 fresh sprigs chopped chives
  • several strips of bacon, crumbled
  • soy sauce to taste

Truly, all  you do is heat the first five ingredients until everything is tender.  A little splash of water helps if the vegetables need the steam.  I add the soy sauce last for that hit of Asian zing.

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I hope you get the opportunity to try this healthy version of fried “rice” with tons more nutrition, way less of that horrible carb/fat combination and all the deliciousness you desire.  You could make any version you like, either plain or with beef or shrimp too.  Have fun!

 


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!