Monday, August 30, 2010


The start of many a meal, easy, and cheap! A combination of celery, onion, carrots, mirepoix adds flavor and provides a base for innumerable dishes. Seasoned with grill seasoning for chicken, I added chicken stock to create a soup. I added cooked lentils (in a rice cooker... very, very easy). Packaged in plastic containers, and put in the freezer for a quick grab and go lunch I can microwave at work.


The perfect accompaniment to... well, just about everything! Having yeast, sugar, salt, and flour on hand, one can easily create a loaf. I just put yeast, a bit of sugar, some flour and warm water in a bowl. I use a whisk to blend it all together. Then, I let it sit on the counter for awhile, until the yeast has "worked," and is bubbly and fragrant. Then I might add some more warm water if needed, then more flour, a bit of salt (for flavor), and knead. Sometimes I will use warm milk, and add melted butter, sometimes just a splash of oil. I add flour and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. While kneading the dough, I have the big bowl soaking in warm water. I clean it out, making sure it's dry. Coat it with oil (or butter), and put the kneaded dough into it to rise (having a warm bowl to begin with helps). Cover with plastic wrap or a clean, moist dish towel. Let it rise until doubled. In the meantime, I usually clean up my flour mess, do dishes, again, check facebook, catch some news, or if it's the right time of day, watch a soap...
After the dough has risen, punch it down. For a baguette, I roll the dough out to a rectangle shape, then roll tightly, placing it seam side down on a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal (which act as tiny ball-bearings so dough won't stick). Let it rise a bit again. Then using a sharp knife, yep, sharp, make several diagonal slashes on the top.
Bake in a medium hot oven, 375-400. On a shelf below the bread, I place a baking pan while the oven is preheating. Then, toss ice cubes in when I put the bread in the oven. The steam helps to create a nice, crispy crust.

Spaghetti Sauce with Zucchini

Very easy...
Brown hamburger, put in slow cooker. Add diced zucchini, onion to pan, season with crushed fennel seed, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, pepper. Cook, deglazing pan with some water to bring up the browned bits on the pan. Add to slow cooker. Add on can/jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (we like 4 cheese, you know, the can usually found on the bottom shelf for .99), add a small package of mini-pepperoni (or regular, diced).
I left it in the slow-cooker all afternoon. Added parmesan cheese and a bit of pasta water toward the end to thicken.
Served with pasta, home made bread, salad.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Zucchini Muffins

I used a recipe i got off the internet, pretty basic, with a few changes. First, I tripled the recipe, then added some spices.

In a large bowl, combine:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

In another bowl, beat together:
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 2/4 cups grated zucchini (used three 3/4 cup meas.)
Blend wet into dry, and using an ice cream scoop, put into prepared muffin tins (sprayed mine with baking crisco). Bake for about 20 minutes, Watch, could be 15 minutes in a hot oven (425) or 25 minutes in moderate heat (350).

Pesto Pizza

For the pesto, I put fresh basil (chiffonade), crushed garlic (2 cloves), handful of parmesan cheese (grated), canola oil (didn't have olive), and chopped walnuts. I used a mini-processor that really isn't worth a crap... If I would have been thinking, I would have used my immersion blender and not had to do as much prep...
Oh well.
Brush olive oil (I did have spray olive oil, so did that, actually) on top of crust, then spread with pesto (I didn't use much oil in that, just enough to bind). Then topped with Italian blend shredded cheese, diced red onion, some zucchini, and a bit of diced green and red pepper. more cheese.
Baked it in a hot oven till cheese was bubbly. yum.

On a second pizza, I topped crust with tomato sauce (used the stuff that came in the package with the crusts, sauce was good, crusts were crap), some shredded mozzarella, a generous amount of diced zucchini, red onion, green and red peppers. Sprinkle with a spice mix: kosher salt, red pepper flakes, celery seed, ground together. More cheese, It. blend and mozz.
Baked in a hot oven.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freezing Corn

Start with great corn, like the stuff from Lingle, Wyoming! Love it! Blanch, cut off the cob, put into bags, freeze. I also freeze the cobs after taking the kernels off. They are great for making corn stock for chowder.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bacon/Vegetable Cream Cheese

Diced veggies and cooked bacon, seasoned with pepper. Stir into softened cream cheese. That's it. I used some to stuff a couple of small tomatoes. The bacon flavor really comes through, would be good on whole wheat toast, with sliced tomatoes and lettuce, A creamy BLT, if you will.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chicken Jambalaya

Not sure if it's really jambalaya, but didn't really know what else to call it!
Cut up a chicken, took the skin off (except for the wings), seasoned with smoked paprika, pepper, garlic, and a grill seasoning that I got on sale labeled "chicken." ha! Browned the chicken, and put the pieces into a casserole. Then I put the diced veggies into the pan I browned the chicken in, sauteed until tender, added sliced beef hot links. Put all that in the casserole with the chicken, poured a small can of tomato sauce over, and a couple of ladles of chicken broth that I made from the back and neck of the chicken. Covered it and put it in the oven for about 90 minutes.
Served with brown rice and crusty bread (one of the Italian loaves I made earlier, had wrapped in foil and put in the freezer). I put the bread in the oven during the last half hour of cooking.

Blueberry Sauced Tart

Crust: flour, butter, baking powder, salt, milk. Rolled out, cut in circles, blind baked in muffin tin (with foil and dried beans to prevent it from "poofing" up)
Filling: instant French vanilla pudding (yep)
Sauce: Blueberries, sugar, orange juice/zest
...and topped with, yes, whipped cream from a can.

Yep, it's a smoothie...

OJ, blueberries, banana, plain yogurt, ice.
Love my immersion blender!

Italian bread

Basic bread: yeast, a bit of sugar, some flour in a large bowl; add warm water and stir. Let it foam up, then add more flour, salt, and a little bit of oil. Knead, let rise until double in bulk. Punch down, roll dough out into a rectangle, then roll up tightly into baguettes. Let rise a bit, slice into the tops, sprinkle with kosher salt (a last minute decision, can omit). Bake.
Then we sliced it lengthwise, spread with butter, sprinkle with garlic powder, It. seasoning, and parmesan. Broil.

Penne Casserole

Really easy! Brown Italian sausage, add onion and diced zucchini. Cook penne al dente, combine with sausage, a jar of sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce, can of tomato sauce (a larger can of crushed tomatoes would be good, too), top with cheese mixture. Bake.
Cheese mixture: ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, Italian blend shredded cheese, parmesan, chopped, cooked swiss chard, garlic powder, Italian seasoning.
I use a "healthy" pasta, and low fat ricotta. One could also use a low fat sauce.
If you make it in advance, you might want to cook the pasta a little less, and then use the larger can of crushed tomatoes. The pasta will absorb liquid as it sits.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Melt marshmallows, peanut butter, butter; add oat cereal. Pat into a pan, sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.
Whole grain yumminess!

Corn Tostadas

Had late-night munchies the other night, came up with these...
Lightly fry (very little oil) corn tortillas on a griddle, top with corn, onions, peppers, Mexican cheese, cheddar. Put in a hot oven to melt cheese.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sticky Buns

Make a caramel sauce with butter, brown sugar, corn syrup. Put in the bottom of muffin cups. Add nuts as desired. Cut refrigerator biscuits into 8 pieces, place in a bowl with melted butter, toss to coat. Distribute evenly among muffin cups, sprinkling cinnamon between layers. Bake 350 degrees about 20-25 minutes. Watch them so they don't burn. When done, turn out onto a platter.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Microwave potatoes. Halve, scoop out most of flesh. Put in a bowl with grated cheese, butter, and a bit of milk. Mash, season with salt and pepper. Pit back into reserved skins. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake until cheese is melted and heated through.
Great with aforementioned ribs, side of swiss chard.

Barbequed Pork Ribs

Rub sith spices, added a bit of sugar to the mix, ground that with some other seasonings as it was big crystals. Bake in a covered roaster, couple of hours, medium oven. Transfer to a large cast iron pan, grill over indirect low heat for 90 minutes or so. Glaze with a bit of honey.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Avocado & Tomato Tostada

Shredded cheese, sliced onion, avocado (sprinkled with lime juice), tomato (first from the garden this year), La Victoria Suprema (the hot red sauce).

Pork, Fried Rice, Green Beans

Leftover pork roast (original marinade had soy, peanut butter), was simmered with some sweet and sour sauce, soy sauce. Brown rice with onion, swiss chard, celery, peas, water chestnuts, soy, garlic, pinch of ginger, dried chili (sauteed in the oil at first).
Green beans were seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper.

Raspberry Custard Pie

Basic crust: flour, butter, bit of sugar, pinch of salt, water. Blind baked (using foil and dried beans inside). Basic custard: milks, eggs (couple whole, couple yolks only), sugar, salt, vanilla. Fresh berries. Bake until custard is set. Aluminum foil around edges helps to keep the crust from getting too dark.