A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Posts tagged “onions

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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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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Ratatouille fresh from the garden

100_0433The quintessential vegetable casserole is what the French call ratatouille.  It’s sort of the comfort food of summer gardeners.  There are many variations but I kept mine very simple with only zucchini, tomato, onion, cabbage, garlic and 100_0442herbs in a creamy Gouda cheese sauce.  Nothing says summer like vine ripened tomatoes and I’ve recently found myself up to my ears in them 100_0444thanks to my friend Gayle.  She and her husband put in at least six ten foot rows each year.  The yield this year is off the charts.  We’ve had lots of good rain this spring and it seems to have been spring for half the summer here in St. Louis.  Only recently have we had the traditional high humidity and heat.  That’s what those tomatoes love.  So just now those juicy fruits are going strong on hearty vines.  Even the ones in pots on my porch are 100_0447producing well.  Every windowsill has at least six tomatoes glowing red in the sun.

100_0449I chose five medium and very ripe ones along with half of an overgrown zucchini to make this dish.  First, I preheated the oven to 375° then I 100_0451sliced everything uniformly and arranged the vegetables in neat rows of alternating vegetables.  In a skillet I made a roux with olive oil, garlic, a hunk of chopped cabbage, a diced onion and a couple of tablespoons of flour, salt, pepper and freshly chopped thyme and parsley.  I cooked it all down until it bubbled into a golden brown.  A cup or so of milk went in a little at a time and was whisked together until it thickened.  Gouda cheese which is sharp like cheddar and melts very well was shredded along with  a bit of leftover cheddar, added to the skillet and was whisked in as well.  The sauce became nice and creamy and I poured it over the tomato and zucchini.

100_0454For a topping I pulsed a few slices of bread in the food processor with a pinch more of the herbs from the garden , pulsed in a dash of olive oil and sprinkled the top with the crumbs.  Into the oven it went for about 45 minutes until the top was crisp 100_0457and golden and the sauce bubbled up the sides.  Before we could dig into this casserole, it needed to cool down quite a bit before it could be served.  100_0464We survived the wait and boy, was it worth it!

You could use a wider variety of vegetables in this dish.  Often mushrooms Green peppers and eggplant are sliced and arranged in layers too.  Fresh herbs from the garden like basil, thyme oregano, tarragon and parsley can be added…what ever suits your taste.  I went the simple route and worked with what was abundant at the time.  I will have the opportunity to try more of a variety the next time.  My peppers are getting bigger and I just bought some porcine mushrooms.    Stay tuned!100_0467100_0505


Drag Me Through The Garden

100_9065Yep, that’s exactly how this salad happened.  It’s too easy in summer to eat fresh veggies all the time.  Between the things I grow in the backyard, the things people at work bring in, and the things neigbors share, I’m ususlly up to my ears in ears of corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, onions…you name it!  Oh, I’m not even complaining.  I try very hard to savor the flavors as long as I can.

100_9066This salad is one of those right out of the garden works of art.  There is no cooking or baking, just cutting, dressing and enjoying.  I do make my own dressing which is to say, I add mayo, buttermilk and a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch.  I like it the best because you make it fresh, and you can clearly taste the difference between it and the bottled stuff.

The vegetables I used were cucumbers in half inch cubes, also tomatoes in that way, a fourth of a red bell pepper and also a fourth of a green one, about a fourth of a red onion, a whole spring onion, all of these vegetables in tiny dice.  I chopped some fresh parsley, dressed everything with that yummy ranch dressing…about a third cup.  Freshly cracked pepper got cracked on top of everything after it was all tossed together.

Wow!  Talk about tasting the sunshine!  I love that this salad was basking away in it just the day before.  I can’t wait to drag myself through the garden again…only the next time I’ll feel so healthy, I won’t be dragging.100_9068

 

 


More Dehydrating

As I have posted before, dehydrating is a great way to store food.  When you dehydrate, you only take out the water…all of  the flavor and most of the nutrients stay in the food.  This week there was a great sale on green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  These are things that I use a lot in my cooking…especially in cooking stews and soups.  Stews and soups are the foods that are really easy to make, and great to prepare when the weather is not the best.  In the summertime I hope to have food from the garden on hand that won’t need cooking.  Even so, the surplus from the garden with all its fresh flavors can be dried and stored as well.

We have a snow storm coming our way just now and besides stocking up last week, we have dehydrated several bags and trays of  mushrooms, onions and green peppers to use another day.  Dehydrated foods last far beyond the shelf life of regular canned items, decades beyond even.  To do this we have sterilized mason jars with lids,  and a special attachment that hooks to our Food Saver vacuum bagging system.  It cost about 25 dollars but is worth a lot more because we can seal up food that we purchase on sale that ten years from now will be maybe ten times the price.

49422The mushrooms we dehydrated cost us 69 cents per container, and the onions were on sale for 79 cents per bag (7 medium onions in each).  We use a lot of onions so roughly a dime an onion is a great deal.  Having them ten years from now because we dehydrated and stored them at that price seems even better.

49436So you might see that purchasing vegetables and even some meat when there is a really good sale makes for some super savings in the future.  It also takes up so much less space  storing these foods when you take out the water.   We  love to store food this way and store lots of vegetables from the garden this way, food on sale from the store, and food that our relatives have hunted and shared like deer meat.  I’ve posted on how to dry deer meat and beef before, also how to store vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, corn, apples, also herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil.

In this photo you will see four containers of mushrooms in one Mason jar, also a bag of onions in one jar as well.  You could fit at  least three pounds of dehydrated meat in one jar, and a whole two bags of  frozen broccoli in one as well.  Ten green peppers chopped and with the stems and pith removed can fit into an 8 oz jar…yes, this is ten chopped green peppers we can preserve up to 25 years!  At any time we might toss a portion of these jars into a soup or stew and enjoy all the flavor it had on the day we dried it.  People all over the world have been doing this for thousands of years!

If you ever try to dehydrate apples, good luck getting them in storage.  They are so delicious that we can hardly help ourselves from eating the whole batch.  I think that they are  the best treat of all from the dehydrator.  A close second is corn and the tomatoes are third I think.  Corn makes a great crunchy snack and tomatoes are great when baked into bread and bagels.  We’ll have a tons of snack food some day if  stores can’t provide fresh veggies for what ever reason…snow storm, power outage, or the proverbial “Zombie Apocalypse” .  We’ll be OK by having prepared  just a little beforehand.  Anyone can do this if they put their mind to it.


Strip Steak Supper

49220For my 200th post I wanted to prepare something special.  Special Suppers often center around a juicy steak.  I found two strip steaks on sale at the store along with some leeks and nice big russet potatoes.  So meat, a green vegetable, and starch…what a perfect combination.  In less than thirty minutes we were dining on the most sumptuous meal.

49203I started by throwing the potatoes in the microwave.  I knew that in about twelve minutes they would be done…they were pretty large.  With those going I cut one of the leeks in half, washed the grit from between each leaf, and sliced them into quarter inch slices…maybe a little thinner.  I put them in a bowl and sprinkled steak seasoning on them, parmesan cheese, about 1/3 cup flour, a heaping tablespoon of corn meal, (masa) and a dash or two of salt .  I added a good splash of water and mixed everything up until the leek slices were well separated and coated in a nice batter.  I set this aside and attended to the steaks.

All I needed to do with them was to season them with a steak seasoning blend, throw them on a hot grill, and watch them 49211sizzle.  After about three minutes I gave them a quarter turn to make those 49213lovely cross-hatched grill marks.  I turned them over after a total of about four and a half minutes.  49206The other side got the same exact treatment.  When the potatoes were done, the steaks were nearly there as well.  I got out the instant read thermometer and checked for a temp of 145°…the steak mid-rare.    They needed to rest a while to insure that they would be tender and juicy in the end.  I shut off the flame, covered them in foil,  and let them rest right on the grill.

49224While the steaks rested I went back to my bowl of leeks in batter.  With the tongs I grabbed a good lump and placed them in a hot skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  When the edges began to brown, I carefully flipped them over to brown the other side.  It worked!  They stayed together in one cute little leek patty.

Bhajis

Bhajis…my lunch

I must give credit to a fellow foodie blogger by the name Frugal Feeding for these leek patties.  I’ve enjoyed this gentleman’s clever and very economical recipes for over a year.  When I checked to see what he was cooking up today I found a gorgeous Indian inspired onion dish called bhajis.  Nick, of Frugal Feeding made these with red and white onions and with a mixture of Indian spices and graham flour.  I did experiment with Nick’s recipe for lunch and it was so good!  With my bunch, I need to start out mildly before springing such grown up flavors upon them, so I  decided to try this less exciting version for our supper…baby steps.  They will be trying bhajis before long.  This evening, these leek patties were good, and a good start on getting my family to expand their horizons culturally…and believe me, serving leeks is a stretch.  The poor girl at the market was struggling with how to charge me because she had never heard of such a vegetable.  What a bubble in which we live…I wish to pop it!

I assembled our plates.  Julia and I split one steak and one of the big potatoes, and Jeff got a steak all to himself as well as a potato.  He’s been working these double shifts lately and needs to fuel up a bit more than we ladies.  Julia tried the leek patty but still found it a bit much on the onion, so I helped her finish.   Jeff loved them as well as the steak and he showed promise that bhajis might just be on the “I’ll give it a try” list.  My big kids would try anything but these two come from different genes…there are limits.  I’ve learned after 200 posts that springing new things on them can more easily be done when a special dinner like this is involved.4922549226


The London Broil

I can’t always afford to eat a juicy steak, whether because of the fat and calories, or because of the price.  The London Broil steak works because it is quite lean and ridiculously affordable.  When it’s cooked right, the taste and texture are as flavorful and juicy as the fancier cuts.  I like to slice it thinly and on the diagonal to give everyone a fair amount of nice wide slices, or they could make a lovely sandwich from the leftovers (if there are any). 

To begin I make a marinate:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp steak seasoning/Greek seasoning
  • a pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper

I put all that into a gallon size zip-lock bag and shake it all up.  The mustard helps it emulsify.  I place the whole steak in and press out all the air.  I even suck out the remaining air and quickly zip the last inch of zipper shut before air gets back in…it’s a trick and I’m glad I don’t have a photo of me doing this…all I’ll say is, just stop before you suck up any marinate.

I let that stand for at least twenty minutes while I fire up the broiler.  I don’t like to use my best baking pans for a job like this.  I use my oldest crummiest rack and cookie sheet to catch the drippings.  Once the broiler is going, I place the steak under the flame on the upper oven rack so that the meat is about 4 to 5 inches from the flame.  Broil for 5 minutes on one side then 5 on the other, leaving the oven door cracked a bit as not to build up too much heat.  When the time is up, I shut off the flame, close the door, and let it sit for another 10 minutes in the warm oven. 

During this time, I make my side dish.  I forego the starchy sides and opt for a skillet simmered dish of onions and cabbage.  With just a teaspoon of olive oil, I saute about a half an onion then chop up half a head of cabbage into two-inch wedges then cut the wedges into halves or thirds depending on the size of cabbage.  I just love the designs our Creator has given us in nature.  He seems to like things that branch out or blossom.  So when the cabbage is wilted and getting a golden brown I use the tongs to turn it over and let the top leaves get the heat treatment.  I lower the heat to medium and put on a lid for a few more minutes. 

Now It’s time to  see about that steak!  I take it out, let it rest another 5 minutes on the cutting board and begin slicing thin juicy slices for my people who will at this time be hovering in the kitchen ready to pounce on the first crunchy yummy end piece.  Usually it’s Jeff, but Julia beat him to it this time.

I have to resist the bread but for everyone else I simply slice off a bit and slide it around in the drippings in that beat up old cookie sheet…better than butter I’m sure…I’ll just watch….I’m OK,  I’d rather the bread was sopping with renderings than me.  Now we plate up and tuck in!