Showing posts with label what's in the pantry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label what's in the pantry. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Food and Family: Watching good food TV, engaging the kids, and using leftovers creatively

This short essay and recipe were published in spring 2020 as part of the Boston University Gastronomy Student community's "Cooking During Covid" virtual cookbook. The book captured covid cuisine and cooking for the BU Gastronomy community. It includes contributions from students, alumni (like me!), instructors, and more. To get your own copy, email with proof of a donation to an organization working on COVID relief in the food system. Essential workers can email to receive a free copy. And be sure to check out @bugastronomy on Instagram for delicious content. 

In my family, over breakfast we discuss what’s for lunch, over lunch we discuss what’s for dinner, and over dinner we discuss what’s for breakfast. Every occasion is marked by an abundance of food, each family member has their signature dish (whether they cook it or they request it). This love and passion for food, tradition, and cooking is what put me on the path of food blogging and led to my pursuit of my gastronomy degree. It has been important to me to instill this same love in my children. In our “regular” lives, I tried to squeeze it in wherever possible. Our new “regular,” being home all day, everyday, presents an opportunity for more.

With this extra time, food has become one of our primary subjects of TV watching, topics of discussion, and sources of activity. Every weekday morning I wake up my six and eight year old with, “It’s time to get up, Lidia is about to be on!” They rub their eyes, trying to remember what day it is, and then scurry to the couch to see what Italian dishes are on the menu this morning. Then, I head to the kitchen to make my breakfast. I have exactly 24 minutes to get my breakfast on the plate and hot coffee in my mug before their favorite, A Chef ’s Life, with Vivian Howard begins.

We watch together, talking about what we’re seeing. The kids are curious about all the new foods they see - Southern cuisine is almost brand new to them. While they know something about where their food comes from, this takes it to the next level. While we watch we talk about farming, ingredients, culture, and whatever other questions they bring up (What do they mean, process a chicken? What is a rutabaga?). We make a list of cooking projects to try - hand pies, porridge, new vegetables, biscuits. One of the frequent topics on the show is respecting ingredients and where they come from. That means from the ground up - the people growing and harvesting, to the cooking method, to not wasting any part of the item. This leads us to talk about the uncertainty of the current situation, and what that means for food. We don’t know what groceries will be available to us, and when. It’s important to not waste anything on our plates. We talk about how there are people that are in different situations than us who have to make do with very little food and stretch what they have as far as possible. I hope, beyond just the excitement of starting each day with TV, these lessons will inform my children’s relationship with their food going forward. Once we go back to our “regular” school and work life I hope they continue to be curious, creative, thoughtful, and engaged.

And now, for my morning breakfast, cooked between 8:00 and 8:24 am each weekday. It is a way to be creative in the kitchen, to be thoughtful about the food we have, and to start the day with a hot breakfast made just the way that I like. The flavors change each day, but the breakfast provides well-needed consistency to the uncertainty in the world. I invite you to open your refrigerator, get creative, and watch some good food TV.

Serve with a side of your favorite toast and a steaming cup of coffee

Good Cook Doris’ Use Up Your Ingredients Breakfast Skillet
Serves 1


1-2 eggs (depending on your current egg inventory, use more vegetables with one egg)
Leftover vegetables and/or meat, cut into bite sized pieces (suggestions below)
Cheese (for topping)
1 tablespooon olive oil or butter
Salt and /pepper or your favorite spice or herb blend


In a small skillet, heat oil or butter over medium heat
Add in leftover vegetables, meat, and spices, cooking until heated through and just starting to brown
Push the vegetables and meat to the sides of the skillet, leaving a space in the center
Crack egg(s) into the center of the skillet, reduce heat to medium-low
Cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny
Slide onto a plate, top with fresh herbs and/or cheese (optional)
Enjoy while watching your favorite cooking show

A few of my favorite combinations:
Brussels sprouts + shallots/leeks/caramelized onions + goat cheese
Kale + bell peppers + shallots or onions
Potatoes + scallions + brisket/pot roast
Stir fried vegetables (spicy is better!)
Broccoli + onions + cheddar + everything seasoning
Spicy black beans + scallions + bell peppers + cheese
Greens (kale, spinach) + sun dried tomatoes + garlic + red pepper flakes

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Seasonally Delicious Burger Night

Grilling season is year round at the Good Cook Doris house - you'll find me out in the snow womaning the grill. But now that the weather is finally warm the grill is really in full swing. Spring produce is also finally coming up and it seemd like the perfect combination for celebrating burger month 2020.

This epic burger is part of a fan-frickin-tastic month-long event hosted by Girl Carnivore, but opinions are always my own!

This is less of a burger recipe and more of a burger guide. It takes advantage of seasonal local ingredients and a little bit of creativity! This year we joined a spring CSA that delivers a mix of winter storage crops, early spring crops, and pantry items from local food producers.

It's been a delightful assortment of products. Most exciting are the early spring crops that are new to me - like wild ramps and sunchokes. Each box also comes with a loaf of freshly baked crusty bread. With all of these ingredients to work with I got grilling! I think that the fun part of burger meals is that everyone can customize their burger however they like. The griller's job is to make a good assortment of toppings along with juicy patties and the eaters are in charge of their creations. 

Here's how I assembled my mid-May seasonally inspired burger! 

Ground beef from a local farm that is now offering home deliveries (I prefer 80/20 or 85/15 ground beef - I find it stays nice and juicy)
Fresh crusty bread from a local bakery
Cabot extra sharp cheddar
Local sriracha
Dukes Mayo (my favorite!)

Burger patties: 
Keep it simple and let the beef shine! I like to season generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper when I mix the meat. 
Gently form into patties, being sure to press down and make an indent in the center (helps it from puffing up when grilling).

Choose your toppings! 
I like to cut thick slices of Cabot cheddar to melt on top - the sharper the better
For vegetable toppings, coat in oil and sprinkle with kosher salt

Start the burgers first
Add thicker vegetables with the burgers, add more delicate vegetables when you flip the burgers
Add the cheese when the burgers are almost done, letting it melt into a delicious coating on top
Grill your bread if you want to add a little extra grill flavor

Spread mayo on both sides of the bread and drizzle sriracha to your desired level of spiciness
On the bottom bread, add the grilled veggies
Add the cheese covered burger and top with the second piece of bread
Serve with a side of pickles, simple salad, or some grilled sweet potatoes
Try to fit it all in your mouth! Watch out for the dripping juice!

Now it's your turn! Open the fridge and pantry and see what you've got in there and get yourself to the grill! To help you out, be sure to enter the Burger Month giveaway to win some awesome prizes. They'll help you take your grilling to the next level! 

Want more amazing burger ideas? Check out these bloggers for more burger month creations:
🍔 Girl Carnivore 🍔 A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures 🍔A Day in the Life on the Farm 🍔 A Merry Recipe 🍔 An Affair from the Heart 🍔Art of Natural Living 🍔 Caroline's Cooking 🍔Chef Justin Grimm 🍔Chiles and Smoke 🍔 City Living Boston 🍔Comfortably Domestic 🍔Culinary Adventures with Camilla 🍔 Dixie Chik Cooks 🍔 Everyday Eileen 🍔 Everyday Southwest 🍔 For the Love of Food 🍔Good Cook Doris 🍔Grillax: Fire. Food. Fun. 🍔 Grilling Montana 🍔 Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks 🍔 Jolene's Recipe Journal 🍔 Karen's Kitchen Stories 🍔 Kate's Recipe Box 🍔Kudos Kitchen by Renee 🍔Life Currents 🍔 Life of a Ginger 🍔Making Miracles 🍔Man Meat BBQ 🍔 Miss in the KItchen 🍔Off the Eaten Path 🍔Our Good Life 🍔 Palatable Pastime 🍔 Pastry Chef Online 🍔 Real Life With Dad 🍔Renee Nicole's Kitchen - Everyday Gourmet 🍔 Sarah's Cucina Bella 🍔Savoring Midlife 🍔 Seduction in the Kitchen 🍔 Simple and Savory 🍔 Spoonabilities 🍔 Sumptuous Spoonfuls 🍔 Swirls of Flavor 🍔 The Redhead Baker 🍔 The Spiffy Cookie 🍔This is How I Cook 🍔 Thyme for Cocktails 🍔What's Cooking Italian Style Cuisine 🍔 Wildflour's Cottage Kitchen 🍔Wile E. BBQ 🍔 Wok & Skillet 🍔

Disclaimer: Thank you to #BurgerMonth Sponsors: Cabot, Anvil & Hammer, New York Beef Council, Red Duck Foods, and Spoonabilities for providing prizes for this epic event. All opinions are my own. The #BurgerMonth giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All winning entries are verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness.

The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. One winner for each weekly giveaway will be selected. The prize packages are sent directly from the sponsors. Winners have 48 hours to respond or they forfeit the prize and another winner(s) will be chosen.

The #BurgerMonth Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the #BurgerMonth posts or entry.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Goat Cheese (Yes You Can Make it At Home)

This is the last official week of the office weight loss challenge! Our final weigh-in will be on Friday and the top three 'losers' will be awarded their prize. I'm still down 4 pounds, a respectable amount for eight weeks of incorporating healthier eating and more activity into my daily routine. I started wearing a pedometer and its just a small tool to motivate me to be more active. If I see that I don’t have enough steps in, I’ll take the stairs during my afternoon break or walk the long way to the train. It’s a great way to burn a few extra calories. I've hit 12,000 steps on a few days (almost 5 miles). As a comparison, most people with desk jobs have somewhere between 3,000-5,000 steps a day.

Also, don’t forget to read through the post to find out last week’s winner of the MultiGrain Cheerios prize pack!

One of the other things I've been doing lately is trying to be more thoughtful about my food purchases. And making an effort to use all of the food we buy. I've been cooking a lot from the pantry and trying to use up everything in the freezer and refrigerator. For this week's healthy snack post, I have two easy and delicious recipes to share.

Last week I came across a recipe (more of a technique) for making goat cheese at home. I was instantly intrigued - fresh goat cheese is one of my favorite cheeses - and I picked up a half gallon of goats' milk from Whole Foods and a few lemons for juicing.  I followed the recipe exactly and was impressed with results. It was very similar to making ricotta (part of my dinner party). The recipe is pretty simple, goats' milk and an acid, and any mix-ins you like for flavoring. I left mine plain and paired it with honey for a snack. I also used it to top huevos rancheros inspired eggs.

Homemade goat cheese with local honey 
and a whole wheat cracker

Whole wheat tortilla, fried eggs, avocado, goat cheese, 
hot sauce, and cilantro with a side of beef bacon.

I still had half the milk leftover and decided to whip up a second batch with my own twist. For this batch I swapped in lime juice for the lemon juice. And for my mix-in I used fresh chopped cilantro. The bright flavors of lime and cilantro was a perfect match for the creamy cheese.

Step by step pictures for easy homemade goat cheese

The cheese is incredible alone, but I had some other ingredients hanging out waiting to be used for something creative. From the freezer I grabbed a bag of whole cranberries. From the refrigerator I grabbed orange peels and limes. The other day I had an orange for a snack and it struck me that I waste precious zest everytime I throw the peel away. I peeled off the flavorful outside and saved it to add to recipes later in the week.

Looking at the ingredients, I decided to make a zesty and tangy citrus cranberry sauce. There’s not much to making cranberry sauce. Just be sure you have a good heavy sauce pot and a stain-proof spatula! You add your ingredients, cook until it’s your desired consistency and then enjoy! I didn’t add a lot of sugar to this version because I wanted it to be more savory to pair with the cheese. The resulting sauce is bright and indeed zesty! This would be great with roasted turkey or chicken, as a sandwich condiment, or on a cheese plate. I took pictures at work on my phone, please excuse the lighting.

The smooth, fresh taste of the goat cheese paired well with the tanginess of the cranberry sauce. The goat cheese has also been a great addition to breakfast. I made a sandwich with a whole wheat sandwich thin, cilantro-lime goat cheese, a fried egg, and a big handful of spinach.

Easy Homemade Goat Cheese
Inspired by recipe on Kiss My Spatula
1 quart goats' milk (just pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized)
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (or other herbs)
Salt to taste

Supplies Needed:
Thermometer (candy, deep fry, or instant read)
Kitchen twine, or string
Heavy bottomed pan
Stirring spoon
Large bowl

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth
Set over a large bowl
Cut kitchen twine for tying

Add milk to a heavy bottomed sauce pan
Heat over medium heat until temperature reaches 180 degrees F, stirring occaisionally
Remove from heat and add citrus juice
After about 15-20 seconds the milk should look cloudy and you should see little specks separating
Ladle carefully into the cheesecloth lined colander (slowly, so it doesn't overflow)
Once all milk is in, pull together the four corners and tie with twine
Tie to a spatula handle and hang over a clean bowl
Let hang for about an hour, until consistency is soft, but not dry
Add to a bowl and mix in any herbs and seasonings
Will stay in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days (if you don't eat it all first!)

Zesty Cranberry Sauce
1/2 pound fresh, whole cranberries (rinsed)
1/4 cup sugar
Juice from 2 limes
1 tablespoon finely diced orange zest
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a medium sauce pan
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat
Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly
The cranberries will burst and the mixture will begin to thicken
Serve immediately or cool completely before storing in the refrigerator

Giveaway Winner!
I used to select a winner from the 24 entries for the MultiGrain Cheerios prize pack! For complete randomness, the hubby ran the numbers and sent me the result. The winner is....

Congratulations to Renee! She said:

"Stairs, stairs, stairs! That is my commitment to being healthier! And to do 1 week of food logging to see exactly what kind of calories I'm taking in".

Congratulations Renee, hope this stylish gym bag and water bottle help you reach your goals!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

When He Fends for Himself: Snack Dinner II

It's back to back weeks of "When He Fends for Himself". How exciting. This week I'm bringing back the dinner concept that swept that nation. That's right, it's Snack Dinner II!!! I feel it is my responsibility to present to you a makeshift dinner for when you are in a pinch. As a disclaimer I must mention that this snack dinner was planned.

I knew a couple of days in advance that I was going to be home alone and decided on a course of action. I wanted to center my meal around a recent stand-by, yogurt and granola. The challenge I faced was in filling in around it. I thought about popcorn, fruit, or ice cream for potential sides but didn't make up my mind until I went to the store. On the way to get the popcorn, I walked down the chip aisle and remembered one of my favorite snacks. It had to be a part of Snack Dinner II! So, instead of popcorn I went with Terra's SWEETS and BEETS. Because it rhymes, and because it tastes so good, I am unable to control the volume of my voice when saying "sweets and beets". Therefore, it always comes out as SWEETS and BEETS. Once I had the bag in hand, I went through the fruit section but was uninspired, gave up, and decided to head towards the register. On the way, I noticed a display of mini Ben and Jerry's containers and decided that would be the perfect dessert. I had my three course dinner decided on and headed home.

Once at home I decided to start with the SWEETS and BEETS, wait a little bit and then have the yogurt and granola, then wait a little bit longer and finish with the ice cream. Unfortunately, it didn't end up going as planned. I opened the SWEETS and BEETS and went to town on them. If the wifey was home and had tried to grab some for herself I would have probably taken a bite out of her hand. Before I knew it I had ate the whole bag! Six servings worth.....ugh. Because of this, I was actually kind of full. I took a comfortable seat on the couch (the couch always makes a cameo on "When He Fends for Himself") and ended up getting in a little bit of nap.

When I came too, I decided to continue on with Snack Dinner II because I had promised wifey a post worthy dinner. (Insert joke here). I dragged myself up and started to do my only prep of the evening - mixing the yogurt and granola. I like to put the granola in the bowl first so that the yogurt can be easily mixed in on top of it. Since wifey had just made granola the day before I wanted to use it for the second course. However, it wasn't where we normally keep the granola in our pantry. I looked in all the shelves, checked the counters, and even tried the refrigerator. I like to say that she was hiding the granola from me, but she'll say that it was my super hero personality "Captain Oblivious" making an appearance. It turns out, the granola was on the dining room table. Before we left for work in the morning she told me where it was, but by dinner time I had just forgotten. Whoops.

Anyway, I instead went with the pumpkin and flax seed granola I normally get from the bulk aisle at Whole Foods. It is pretty tasty and I usually mix it with plain Stonyfield yogurt. I was still a little full, but knew I had a job to do. Once the second course was finished I went back to the couch and decided there would not be a third course. There was no room for the tiny Ben and Jerry's anywhere in my stomach. Snack Dinner had defeated me. To top it off, when I went to pick up the wife at the train station my stomach began to hurt. I think maybe I had a little too much SWEETS and BEETS. Thankfully, it didn't last long and it didn't ruin my night.

All-in-all, I think it was a successful snack dinner. The purpose of snack dinner, in my mind, is to not go hungry while expending as little energy as possible. This I accomplished in spades. While this was a manufactured snack dinner, I want it to be a guide for when you're home alone, lazy, and afraid of wasting away. It is OK to eat a bag of potato chips for dinner every once in a while. If all you have is canned olives and a granola bar at home, by all means eat them! No one is there to stop you. Our market research shows us there's a high probability you are an "adult." Go for it! You'll be glad you did, I promise.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesdays: Granola

We're getting down to the wire for the office weight loss challenge! There are 3 weigh-ins left in the competition.  I won't be taking home the grand prize (the current leader has lost 5% of their body weight!). However I'm happy to report that I'm down 3 pounds from the start of the competition, a healthy rate of weight loss. I've been making an effort to take the 4 flights of stairs up to my office and getting out for a walk at lunchtime. Starting a whole new fitness routine isn't in the schedule, so I've been adding in activity where I can. While school and work are getting busier, it's been harder to squeeze in snack making. So this week I'll share an easy recipe for granola.

Granola packs a nutritional punch - healthy oats, nuts, and dried fruit. But you have to be careful, sometimes the store bought granola contains a lot of calories and fat.  Making it at home is something I have been meaning to try for a while. I wanted a healthy and tasty recipe.  There are a lot of great resources at BU for healthy eating, so I started my recipe search on the Sargent Choice website. I wish that Sargent Choice was around when I was an undergrad at BU! They offer healthy dining options on campus - both in the dining halls and in the student union. They also offer healthy eating resources for students, faculty, and staff.

On the 'What's Cooking' page, I found a recipe for a granola and yogurt parfait and decided to put my spin on the granola. My granola included oats, roasted unsalted pepitas, sliced almonds, and dried cherries. I also added a dash of salt (I like the contrast of a little salty granola with sweet yogurt). The preparation was easy, but you will need a scale to measure the ingredients. Also, I found that mine cooked in much less time than the recipe called for. You'll have to watch the oven to make sure your granola doesn't burn - it can get overcooked in an instant. I'll be mixing this into my favorite yogurts for healthy snacking the rest of the week.

Sargent Choice Granola (minus the parfait)
Adapted from Sargent Choice
5 ounces rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon whole wheat flour
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pepitas
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I think I added a full teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces maple syrup (Grade B)
1/2 ounce honey
1 1/2 teaspoon orange infused olive oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla (as I typed this, I realized I forgot to include it)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dried cherries

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
In a large bowl mix oats, pepitas, almonds, cinnamon and salt
In a separate bowl, whisk together syrup, honey, olive oil, vanilla, and water
Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula
Pour the granola mixture onto the baking sheet and spread evenly
Bake, checking every 20 minutes and stirring to ensure even cooking
Mine was done after 40 minutes

Cool completely
Mix with dried fruit
Store in an airtight containers

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes - 2 hours
Mixing bowls, whisk, spatula, baking sheet, parchment paper

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Local Luxury Dinner Party Leftovers: Lunch & Dinner

This is the seventh, and final, post in the Local Luxury Dinner Party series, and the second in the Local Luxury Dinner Party Leftovers series! The dinner party was part of the Next Food Blog Star competition hosted by Foodbuzz. While I didn't advance in the competition, the party was still fabulous! After dinner, I had a refrigerator full of leftovers and this series covers the creation of new and delicious dishes made with the leftovers.

In addition to the delicious breakfasts we made from the dinner party leftovers, we also had a tasty lunch and dinner.  We had enough steak and broccoli romanesco for another meal and some tomatoes and plenty of ricotta.

First on the agenda was a Saturday afternoon lunch.  I sliced a few pieces of leftover sesame bread and laid them out on two plates. Instead of using mayo or mustard, I spread the leftover roasted garlic cloves onto the bread before adding the sliced steak and topping with another piece of bread.  A quick trip into a 350 degree oven yielded a warm and flavorful sandwich. The romanesco was delicious reheated - because it has more of a cauliflower texture it doesn't get as mushy as reheated broccoli.

After a busy day of errands we were ready for dinner!  I surveyed the remaining leftovers and found tomatoes and ricotta.  There was also a package of Nella Pasta's whole wheat linguine in the refrigerator. I checked the freezer for vegetables and came up with a frozen homemade pesto cube from my summer herb harvest.  I put everything on the counter and starting brainstorming on what to create.

The result? Whole wheat linguine with a creamy pesto heirloom tomato sauce.  This was quick, easy and healthy!  One dish = plenty of whole grains, calcium, nutrients & flavor!  Just look at the whole wheat goodness in the Nella pasta:

I hope you've enjoyed the dinner party & leftovers series.  It's been a lot of fun to put together.  We had a wonderful party and great leftovers! I challenge you to turn your leftovers into something creative and delicious the next time you're faced with a fridge full of the same.  I can't wait to hear about your favorite leftover creations!

Creamy Tomato Herb Sauce
A cup or two of diced heirloom tomatoes
1 frozen pesto cube (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Puree tomatoes in a food processor until almost smooth
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet or sauce pan over medium heat
Add pureed tomatoes and saute until cooked through (about 10 minutes)
Stir in pesto cube and cook until melted, stirring often
Remove from heat and stir in ricotta
Spoon over pasta and serve!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: Sauce - 15-20 minutes; Pasta - 3-4 minutes for fresh pasta
Food processor, sauce pan, spoon, serving dishes

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's Hot...and We Haven't Gone Grocery Shopping...

The combination of a few hot days in Boston, no AC in the house, and a busy week left us looking into a pretty bare fridge tonight with little motivation to cook a big meal. We rarely eat out on weeknights and had already made one exception to that rule this week. I mustered up all the creativity I could and pulled out whatever looked good in the fridge and pantry.

According to the hubby, "It was an old-standby with a refreshing addition". We have two meals that we usually end up making when we are tired and out of ideas - eggs and bagels or rice and beans. Tonight we went with the rice and beans.

My new lime basil plants have been really growing, and I had a lot of leaves that needed to be used up. Digging around in the fridge uncovered a jicama I thought that lime basil and jicama sounded like an interesting combination. I pulled out my Rick Bayless cookbook for inspiration on a dressing and found a recipe for a cilantro lime vinaigrette. Since I had neither of those, I used what was on hand to make a lime basil orange vinaigrette. To make the salad even more exciting I threw in a handful of pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). This gave the salad a nice crunch and extra flavor dimension. Thanks to Oh!Nuts for sending me some tasty products to try out.

For the rice and beans, I will admit that I used the microwave to cook them both. Hidden in the pantry was one of those 90 seconds rice packages and some black beans. I heated them up and then tossed the black beans with a little of the extra vinaigrette. It was delicious!

The end of the week calls for a summery cocktail - my Thursday night concoction was a spiked strawberry lemonade. A cold, refreshing addition to the meal.

What's your favorite go-to meal when you don't feel like cooking? Favorite pantry staples?

Jicama Salad with Lime-Basil Orange Vinaigrette
1 medium jicama root
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Handful of pepitas

Peel jicama with a knife (the vegetable peeler doesn't get enough skin off)
Dice into your desired shape, I cut mine into about 1 inch cubes
Put into a bowl and toss with the salt and sugar

3/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup fresh lime basil
Dash of salt

Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender
Blend until smooth
Pour 1/4 cup on the jicama salad and reserve the rest of the dressing for another use
Top with pepitas and serve

Lazy Thursday Black Beans
Open a 14 oz. can of black beans and drain
Put into a bowl and mix with 1-2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette
Cover loosely and microwave for 2 minutes
Serve on top of rice

Super Strawberry Lemonade
Chill a glass of your choosing
Muddle 2-3 fresh strawberries in the bottom of the glass
Add a serving of vodka
Fill the remainder of the glass with strawberry-lemonade (or lemonade)
Garnish with a strawberry on the rim and enjoy

Here's to cooler weather!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Grass-Fed Beef Chili

One of the benefits of going to the farmers' market is being able to purchase locally raised meats. Not only do you support your local farmers, you also know how the meat was raised. I haven't seen Food Inc. yet, but a friend recently did and gave me his take on how he is changing his meat consumption patterns as a result. In addition to reducing the amount of red meat in his diet, he decided to stop eating beef unless it is grass-fed and hopes that everyone else follows suit (in time). The challenge in doing that is the availability of products to meet the demand. Hopefully we'll move toward a change in the beef industry to increase the supply and availability.

Have you seen Food Inc.? Have you changed your eating habits as a result of the movie or to be more environmentally concious? I'd love to hear about it - please leave a comment!

During our last trip to the market, we picked up some grass-fed ground beef from Springdell Farms. Visit their website to read about how they treat their Black Angus cattle. It comes through in the texture and taste of the meat. A good tip that they gave us for cooking was to make sure not to overcook the beef. The beef we bought that day was extra lean (and grass-fed beef can be overcooked easily).

Veggie chili is a frequent menu item at our house. With the meat in the fridge, I decided to make a beef chili for a hearty meal for the New England February climate. We had this for Super Bowl Sunday topped with guacamole and fresh grated Colby-jack cheese. I chopped up the usual suspects - jalapeno, red bell pepper, and yellow onion and then got to work!

For the liquid, I used some leftover chunky veggie tomato sauce we had in the refrigerator. I also used the spices in my spice rack - dried cilantro, ground cumin, and chili powder. You can use any color beans you have in the pantry and throw in any other veggies you might have on hand. It's a great meal to use up any ingredients leftover from other meals.

Instead of the quick 20-minute chili that I usually make, this is a slow-cooking chili that simmered for 2-3 hours before the big game. The addition of cornmeal creates a rich (a little 'creamy'), flavorful, and satisfying result! The leftovers made tasty lunches throughout the next week.

Game Day Grass-Fed Beef Chili
Makes about 6 servings
1 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1-2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1/2 a jar tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon dried cilantro
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Olive oil
Shredded Colby-jack cheese and guacamole to top it off

Heat a medium stock-pot over medium-high heat (a 6 on my range)
Add a small amount of oil to the pan
Add beef, garlic, onions, jalapeno, and pepper and cook until just browned, stirring the beef and breaking it up as it cooks
Drain and excess fat from the pan and return to the heat
Add in beans, sauce, spices, and salt and pepper, stir
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 2+ hours, stirring occasionally
Top with cheese and guacamole and serve with cornbread or tortilla chips

Haiku from the Hubby:
Grass fed and so lean
Chili with spice and on top
Mmmmm Guacamole

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catching up - A Budget Friendly Get Together

I'm seriously behind in posting from the last few weeks. These next few posts will be out of chronological order, but no less delicious.

My sorority alumnae chapter is active and each month a different member hosts a get together of their choosing. My month was October and I decided to host a Sunday afternoon board game party. The party started just after the 1 p.m. football games ended and ended before the Sunday night sitcoms came on. With about 8 people scheduled to attend I got to work planning the menu! On the game menu: Apples to Apples, Scattegories, and a Uno themed Jenga. We had a blast!

I decided to challenge myself to make this a budget friendly party using mainly items from the pantry (with a few twists). Game playing calls for finger foods and dishes that can sit out for a few hours (no mayo!). My menu brainstorming session resulted in chips, dips, veggies, some pasta salad, and desserts. Nice and simple and easy to prepare - almost no cooking involved! Another bonus, most of the dishes were 'not bad for you' (healthy might be a stretch when they all are eaten with chips).

The non-pantry items for the party were the chips - old favorites tortilla and pita chips - and store bought salsa. I also picked up a bag of the new Ming Tsai sesame rice chips.

The star of the non-pantry items was a kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) that I picked up from the weekly farmer's market.

When the hubby and I were in Vancouver on our honeymoon we had an unbelievable kabocha squash puree with a sweet whipped cream. When I saw the squash at the market I knew I had to try it! I treated in like a potato for the cooking method and pureed it with some butter and maple syrup. More butter would have made it a little richer, but I forgot to restock my butter supply at the store. I served it chilled as a dip with the pita chips. It would also be great thinned with some broth and served as a soup. I also cleaned up the seeds and toasted them with maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and salt. Great for snacking while making the rest of the meal!

Maple Kabocha Squash Dip (puree)
1 kabocha squash
1/3 (ish) cup of maple syrup (I used grade B)
1-3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Water for cooking

Start by cutting the squash into halves or quarters
Scoop out the seeds and set aside for roasting
With a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the squash pieces
Cut into 1 inch pieces
Fill a large pasta pot with about 2 inches of water
Add the squash (it will not be covered by the water)
Sprinkle the salt over the top
Bring to a boil and then reduce immediately and simmer for 10-12 minutes (until squash is tender)
Drain and put the squash into a bowl
With an immersion blender, blend the squash until it is a smooth consistency
Stir in desired amount of butter and maple syrup
Chill and serve

Next up on the menu - white bean, garlic and parsley dip. This was gone by the end of the party. Simple ingredients - great taste. All you need is 2 cans of cannellini beans, 2 cloves of fresh garlic, a handful of parsley, and some olive oil. Throw it all in the food processor with some salt and pepper and that's it!

The pasta salad was easy - tri-colored rotini, pesto from the freezer, chopped fresh basil from my basil plant, frozen peas, and olive oil.

The only thing left untouched at the end of the party was the store bought salsa. I'd consider the party a success! Counting the pantry items as $0 + chips, salsa, and the squash, the grand total for the party was around $20 for a party of 8. The guests brought the drinks and left feeling full!

Looking forward to the next get together!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Old Favorite - Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

A few years ago I figured out that it was cheaper - and tastier - to make my own sloppy joe sauce. Don't get me wrong, Manwich is tasty, but it is salty! And once you read the label, you realize that you have most of the ingredients in your pantry and it takes no time at all to make a homemade sauce.

I downloaded a new iPhone app from Whole Foods that lets you put in a few ingredients you have on hand and it will suggest recipes for you. This is an entertaining app to play with on the train ride home from work. I've gotten good at coming up with impossible combinations for the WF recipe gurus (soy milk + peas + beef stumps them). One of the featured recipes last week was for sloppy joe sandwiches so I decided to give their recipe a try. I had ground beef in the fridge and all the other ingredients in the pantry. I didn't have any onions, so I decided to use up the last of the rainbow carrots from the farmer's market. Don't they look good?

On the side I decided to make a 'quick' baked beans. I figured that the carrots counted for our vegetable, so I didn't make another one on the side. I served the sandwiches on potato rolls for a delicious meal! Here's the recipe and the photo for 2 servings. You should start the beans first and then move on to the sloppy joes.

Quick Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
Adapted from a Whole Foods Recipe

1/2 pound ground sirloin
About 1/2 cup carrots, diced into small pieces
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
2 burger buns

Heat a medium sized skillet to medium heat
Put the beef in the pan and brown for about 5—7 minutes
Add the carrots and season with salt and pepper
Cook until carrots are almost soft about 5 minutes
Add in ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and mustard and stir well
Simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes
Spoon over burgers

These would be tasty with some sharp cheddar cheese or a nice colby jack.

Quick Baked Beans

1 can kidney beans, drained
1 garlic scape chopped into bean size pieces (or 1 garlic clove minced)
1 teaspoon bbq rub (or your favorite spices)
1 tablespoon water

Heat a small pot (with a lid) over medium heat
Add garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes
Add beans, water, and seasoning to the pot
Simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes (or until you're done making the rest of the meal)

Summary (for both dishes):
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Skillet, cutting board and knife, small pot with lid, measuring spoons and cups, spoons, serving dishes

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mmm...muffins...meatloaf muffins

About three or four years ago I watched a 30 Minute Meals episode where Rachael Ray made meatloaf muffins. Growing up, we never had meatloaf. When I moved out on my own, I never thought about it as an option. Since I found this recipe I've been making this regularly! The technique lends itself to a lot of creative ingredient combinations. Stick with the basic meat, egg, and breadcrumbs and then its all up to your mood and your ingredients. Sometimes smoky and BBQ flavored, sometimes salsa and southwestern. This was a pretty traditional interpretation. We had leftover jicama salad as our side dish. Great combination of hot and cold, crunchy and smooth!

For the original recipe, click here. My version:

Meatloaf Muffins - This week's version

1 pound ground sirloin (or lean ground beef)
1 yellow onion, cut into quarters
1 orange or red pepper, seeds removed and cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into chunks
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of ketchup + extra for topping
1/2 cup of smoky barbecue sauce
1-2 tablespoons of Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
Oil to grease the muffin tins

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place the ground beef in a large bowl
Place the onion, pepper, and jalapeno into a food processor
Pulse until finely chopped and then add to the bowl with the meat
Add egg, ketchup, BBQ sauce and seasoning to the bowl and mix
Add bread crumbs and mix until well combined (but don't over mix)
Brush muffin tins with either vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
I use a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup to scoop the meatloaf mixture into the tins and pat them down
Top each muffin with BBQ sauce (I didn't have any extra sauce, so I used ketchup on top)
Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through
Use a spoon to remove from the pan

Makes about 8-10 muffins.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Food processor, cutting board and knife, muffin tin, 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, spoon

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday Night Chili Dinner

Chili is one of the dishes that you can customize based on what you have on hand or who you are serving. I used ground beef, but you could easily use ground turkey, ground tofu, or just extra veggies. The method is the same for whatever ingredients you decide to throw in. This version had kidney beans, black beans, garlic, jalapeno, orange pepper, and red onions. For seasoning I used some salt, pepper, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, and a little green Tabasco sauce.

The basic cooking method is to heat oil in a soup pot and then sweat the veggies until they are soft. Then toss in the drained beans, canned tomatoes, and ground meat if you are using it. Bring it to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Stir in the spices and then just keep warm until you are ready to eat. Easy and tasty!

On the side, I made a quick cornbread according to the recipe on the cornmeal container. It was pretty bland for my taste - it needed some extra salt. I put some honey on and sprinkled it with salt and it tasted fine.

The whole meal takes about 30 minutes - you can cook the chili while the cornbread is in the oven.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Passover Eats - Part 6: Frittata

Toward the end of the eight days, we had a lot of leftover veggies but not enough of each to make a full side dish. We were also a little tired of eating brisket leftovers every night! So I pulled out the frittata recipe and added in the veggies we had on hand. This variation included asparagus and onions. A bonus of making a big frittata is that we had leftovers for breakfast the next morning (much tastier than matzoh and cream cheese).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Last Week's Menu

Here are a few items that don't require recipes.

First up, my quick version of a traditional English breakfast. I wasn't feeling 100% so I wanted a quick meal. Instead of my usual fallback of eggs and bread, I scrambled some eggs, crisped up some hash browns, and cooked some tasty baked beans (from a can). It was delicious!!!

Next up, romaine salad with roasted beets. For perfect roasted beets, check out this post from my friend Amy's blog: It looks easier than the way I did it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thursday is Turkey Day!

Cooking in every night means a little extra effort - and can get boring without some variety. I picked up some ground white meat turkey at the store and decided to make some hearty chili with some extras from the pantry. This cooks in about 20-25 minutes and is easy to freeze for future lunches. Serve with cornbread, biscuits, or any bread you like. You can also add in extra veggies if you have them on hand.

Turkey Chili
1 lb. ground white meat turkey
1 can white beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 tbsp. tomato paste
Cumin, chili powder, cilantro, salt, pepper
Shredded cheese to top it off

In a large skillet, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat.
Add turkey, break up into smaller pieces, and cook until brown - about 5-8 minutes

At the same time...
In a soup pot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat
Add minced garlic and heat for 2-3 minutes
Add both cans of beans and can of tomatoes
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low
Stir in cooked turkey, tomato paste, and spices.
Simmer until it's time to eat - top with shredded cheese and enjoy!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
1 skillet, 1 soup pot, can opener, serving dishes and utensils.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chicken and Asparagus Casserole

My friend's mom always used to make chicken and broccoli casserole, but I didn't love cooked broccoli. This is a variation on it with a different vegetable - and still delicious. It's a quick weeknight classic and can be customized however you like it. Serve with biscuits, rolls, or whatever starch you like! The protein and veggies are all in the casserole. The casserole smelled so good, we started eating before thinking about taking the photo!

Chicken Casserole with Asparagus

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1 package frozen asparagus pieces (not thawed)
  • Appx. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • Appx. 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a casserole dish, mix the soup, milk, and seasoning.
Stir in chicken, covering with the soup mixture.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, covering the whole dish.
Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.

Prep time - about 5 minutes
Cook time - 30 minutes
1 casserole dish and a serving spoon

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thursday Night...What's left in the Kitchen?

Sometimes the end of the week requires extra creativity. We have been trying to be resourceful and waste less food. That can lead to some creative ingredient combinations and sometimes tasty food that doesn't necessarily look like a gourmet meal but does taste like one.

Tonight's meal might not be the prettiest looking meal - but it was delicious. Definitely worth repeating, with a few tweaks (depending what we have in the kitchen). We had a few veggies, some leftover bread, and chicken breast that we didn't use on Tuesday. Then I went to the pantry to see what I could use to pull it all together. Both dishes cook in the oven together - saving time! Here's what I came up with:

Baked Chicken with mushroom sauce and breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (your favorite kind)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • Appx. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (or combo of your favorite herbs)
  • Appx. 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a casserole dish, mix the soup, milk, and seasoning.
Stir in chicken, covering with the soup mixture.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, covering the whole dish.
Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes.

Quick Version of my Grandma's Southern Dressing (aka stuffing)

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 carrots sliced into small coin sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into appx. 1/2" pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • About 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 loaf of bread, torn into 1" cubes

Cook in 350 degree oven with the chicken dish
Microwave butter for 1 minute in a large bowl.
Add carrots and onion and microwave for 5 minutes.
Add bread to the bowl and mix.
Add the eggs, chicken broth and seasoning, and mix.
Pour into a greased 8"x8" pan.

Bake for 30 minutes along with the chicken.

Serve and enjoy! You could swap out the soup for Cream of Broccoli or whatever cream soup you have on hand. You could also throw in some broccoli or spinach if you have it.


Prep time - about 10-15 minutes
Cook time -30 minutes
2 baking dishes, 1 large bowl, and a few spoons!


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