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Showing posts from November, 2019

Garlic Ravioli with Squashy Spinach

Every meal ate at great grandmas has to include meat.  HAS TO. During the seven hour trip home I wracked my brain trying to remember what was in the pantry and what will need to be eaten straight away.  Garlic Ravioli with Squashy Spinach was what I created in my head. It was meatless and hearty, quick and easy, and perfect. Ingredients: 16 oz bag of cheese ravioli 1 yellow squash, sliced thin 1 zucchini squash, sliced thin 1 bunch of baby spinach 3 oz of rough grated Parmesan 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 gloves garlic salt and pepper Instructions: Prepare ravioli, drain, and set aside. Either fresh or frozen varieties will work. When cooking pasta, be sure the water is as salty as the sea for better pasta flavor. In large pot, melt butter until foamy.  Add olive oil, garlic, and squash.  Cook till soft.  Toss is spinach, cook till soft. Add drained ravioli and toss together.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top directly before

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Lasagna.  Either you love it or you hate it.  I love it but hate to make it.  And why make it when you can buy Stouffers frozen lasagna and it just as good or even better than homemade.  But being as I have been living on my own for more than 25 years, I figured it was time to make my own.  This  Homestyle Lasagna  seemed simple enough so I thought I would give it a go.  Or at least try... Modifications Made: Meat Sauce Meats called for 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage and 1 lb of hamburger but I used 1 lb of both to make life easy.  Both the garlic and the onion were doubled in quantity and the sugar was omitted all together.  Per many suggestions, fresh basil was used instead of dried and parsley was as always left out. Modifications Made: Cheese Mixture Wanting to ensure the cheese mixture was not too runny causing the layers to fall apart when cut, shredded mozzarella was substituted for slices.  12 oz of mozzarella was then mixed with the ricotta, egg, and fresh basil to tas

Green Chicken Enchiladas, A Staple

Another requested dinner to be served during the Thanksgiving holiday was my Green Chicken Enchiladas.  The meal was so fabulous that only a small one meal leftover remained.  Everyone will rave about hard the meal must be to prepare and then shake their heads in disbelief when I say its easy peasy.  In fact, the hardest thing is deboning the chicken. Ingredients: Filling: 1 whole chicken, cut into quarters 1 yellow onion, finely diced 3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped 1 large jalapeno pepper, whole 1 cube of Knorr Caldo de Tomate 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro 1 heaping tablespoon of comino 1 heaping tablespoon of chili powder salt to taste Sauce: 12-20 white corn tortillas 16 oz jar Herdez Salsa Verde 8 oz shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese Toppings: Queso Fresco Cilantro Avocado Sour Cream Instructions: Boil all filing ingredients together (from diced chicken to salt and pepper to taste) until chicken falls off the bone.  Remove chicken from bone,


Great grandma may have cooked a fabulous all American home cooked meal last night, but tonight I was requested to make Picadillo .  Picadillo is a Tex-Mex cuisine upon which I have been eating before teeth.  Seriously, one does not need teeth to eat this meal.  It is smokey in flavor, filling, and dumb simple.  All one needs is time.  As with all good meals, the longer is melds, the better the flavors. This recipe is close to my original stand by but the requested was to include tomatoes.  Tomatoes are a cooks preference.  I am more of a meat and potatoes only but I am also not one to turn down picadillo with tomatoes.  That would just be plain dumb. In trying new recipes, I vowed to try not to modify any recipe too much.  Note the word TOO much.  Until this meal, I feel as though I was sticking to those guidelines.  Today's meals threw all rules out the window.  Ingredients and their suggested quantities were the same.  It was in the cooking process where the instructions varie

Chicken Fried Steak, A Staple

Eating at the great grandmas is a walk back in time.  Her cookware hasn't been updated since 1970 (unless of course it breaks such as the potato peeler) and the food hasn't been updated since 1950 when women stayed home to cook hearty meals for her hard working spouse and her slew of hungry children (all seven of them).  Great grandma's food is Cracker Barrel but better.  Like her chicken fried steak, taters with gravy, and bacon and butter laded green beans. Modifications Made: At great grandma's chicken fried steak is not made with tenderized beef steaks instead with tenderized (to oblivion) venison. Potatoes are always freshly peeled and boiled in water salty enough to be the sea.  Green beans are from the can (number 10 for this many people) and never fresh as they have too much crunch.  While great grandma can and does make excellent gravy with a slew of kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to feed, today's meals used instant gravy modified from instructi

Turkey Cheeseburger with Apple Relish

After having pork burgers, then chicken burgers, I felt the need to round out my burger week with a  Turkey Cheeseburger with Apple Relish .  Do you remember the math equation if A=B, and B=C, then A=C? Well if the equation held true for all those math problems it must hold true for this recipe, too.  Apples and bacon go together, bacon and turkey go together, therefore apples and turkey must go together, right? Modifications Made (Relish): One large onion was used to one Gala apple.  Two onions, even when cooked down seemed like a lot of onion for just four burgers.  Using a sweet onion such as the Gala, the maple syrup was omitted.  Fresh nutmeg and thyme were replaced with dried. Modifications Made (Burger): Smoky bacon was replaced with applewood smoked bacon to enhance the apple flavorings in the burger.  For the patty, yellow mustard with a dash of dry mustard for an extra kick was used in place of Dijon mustard. With all this fat in the burger, why stop at cooking the pat

Egg Roll Soup

Who doesn't love egg rolls?  Vegetable egg rolls are my favorite served along side a bowl of either egg drop soup or hot and sour soup. However, if presented with a meat pork or chicken egg roll I would be hard pressed to decline the invite.  Baked egg rolls are good but fried are the best! Wanting egg rolls but not having access to frozen varieties or fresh from a restaurant take out, I landed on  Egg Roll Soup  instead.  Simple, easy to make soup on a busy week night dinner as we prepare for the upcoming holidays sounded perfect especially since all ingredients were on hand. Modifications Made: Before adding the ground pork, I first sauteed 1/2 white onion to ensure it was fully cooked as I do not car for onion crunch in my meals.  Garlic was doubled, cabbage and carrots were diced small to quicken cook time, and everything else was followed as stated..  Diced green onions were tossed in directly before serving. Scaled for Likability: Good This recipe should not be rush

Garlic Chicken Burgers

Having had a tasty burger two nights ago but not wanting to waste the remaining fabulous potato buns, I quickly scoured the web and landed on a  Garlic Chicken Burger .  Nothing fancy, just a plain everyday pantry staple burger kicked up a notch in flavorings. Figured if pork turned out well then why not chicken?  Modifications Made (Garlic Aioli): Never have been a fan of mayo. In fact I can list the handful of recipes requiring mayo: tuna fish sandwiches, mom's macaroni salad, potato salad (which I can't name the last time it was made), and that's about it.  In all my years I have only ever eaten two mayos: Kraft Mayo and Miracle Whip.  Yes, I know they are not the same in theory but they are the same category to me: the not mustard category.  In case you are wondering, ketchup lands there too in the non mustard category.  As I was a saying, I have never been a fan of mayo so when the recipe called for light mayo for the Garlic Aioli, I used what was on hand: full fa

Cheese Enchiladas, A Staple

There is nothing more in the world this table loves than cheese enchiladas.  The key to a perfect cheese enchilada is the red gravy sauce .  It must be equal parts oil to flour with a salty chicken broth base heavily seasoned with just chili powder and comino, salt and pepper.  Nothing more, nothing less. Modification Made (Red Gravy): Double the salt and omit the oregano. Modifications Made (Enchiladas): No onions.  Not now or ever. Warm corn tortillas in microwave until soft.  Spread tortilla with thin layer of red gravy, fill with cheese, wrap TIGHTLY, and place seam side down on microwavable plate.  Repeat with desired number of tortillas.  Cover with more gravy, top with cheese, microwave until inside cheese melts.  About 30 seconds for three extra fat tortillas. Scaled for Likability: Great I love, love, love cheese enchiladas!  Not beef, or chicken, vegetarian, or shrimp.  Just plain cheese with plain red gravy topped with more plain yellow cheese on top.  It is a

Apple Pork Burgers

Yesterday was spent traveling for work.  Almost 16 hours on the road and in traffic almost the entire time.  Being a stress eater, I start craving foods one can never eat while traveling like juicy skillet fried burgers.  First thing this morning, I searched through the hundreds of saved recipes across multiple apps and cookbooks and landed on  Apple Cheddar Pork Burgers .  All I have to say is, my oh my... Modifications Made: Instead of using bagged shredded cheese, I used mild block cheddar cheese.  Wanting a juicy burger, I was worried the potato starch used to keep the pre-shredded cheese from sticking would alter the final burger product.  Fresh rosemary was omitted as it was not available.  Finally, not wanting to cheap out on the juice home fried burger experience, I splurged from the plain old burger bun and sprung for a potato bun.  Toppings were simply extra cheddar cheese, mustard, and lettuce as I wanted to patty to be the star of the show. Scaled for Likability: Gr

Classic Burgers, A Staple

Burgers!  The All-American Meal combining every section from the  MyPlate Food Groups : Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Proteins, Dairy.  Just not in the correct proportions.  Fruits are a couple slices tomatoes (not my burger), vegetables couple lettuce leaves, four or five pickle slices, and an eighth of an avocado (only on my burger), grains are honky white bread buns, protein is anywhere from a quarter pound to third pound patty plus two three slices of thick but bacon, and dairy is one or two slices of cheese.  Delicious! Scaled for Likability: Great Classic burgers are considered a staple for a reason, they are always fresh off the grill, they are always bigger than the mouth can bite, and they are always super satisfying.  

Jesse's Special, A Staple

Way back in our broke college days, a buddy who was raised with 10 other family members in house, showed us his money saving dish.  It was filling, tasty, easy, and cheap.  It was (and is) a perfect meal.  Of course, our version has been scaled down to only serve about four people, not ten. Ingredients: 1 small head of cabbage, diced 4-5 russet potato, diced 2 links of Eckrich smoked sausage, sliced Butter of choice salt and pepper Instructions: In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook cubed cabbage until almost soft.  Remove cabbage and place in bowl.  Cover and let steam.  To boiling cabbage water, cook potatoes until fork tender.  Remove potatoes and add to cabbage in covered bowl.  Butter and pepper to taste.  To salted cabbage/potato water, heat sausage for two minutes.  Remove sausage and add to cabbage and potato mixture.  Butter and pepper to taste.  Serve. Modifications Made from Original Recipe: Jesse used to cook the potatoes as thinly sliced, cov

Squashy Cranberries

Trying to eat healthy meals that are filling for longer than an hour is turning out to be difficult.  In my readings, I discovered veggies with higher fiber content should sustain energy levels longer.  What better way to test this theory than with  Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta . Modifications Made: This recipe was followed exactly as written which is something I think I have never done.  Ever.  No wait, I didn't.  Sprinkling of parsley was omitted. Scaled for Likability: Great Fantastic!  Cannot say enough about this meatless hearty dish.  It would have been utterly over the top if it was paired with fresh roasted turkey breast.  Squash was in fact not squashy but cooked to a perfect firmness.  Cranberries were cooked to softness yet some retained their "pop" when eaten.  Feta chesse was the only part of the meal I was leery.  Feta is Greek food.  When first served, I forgot the feta so the first few bites were fetaless.  Initial bi

Simply Fried Rice, A Staple

Everybody loves fried rice.  Living where we live there is not a single restaurant that serves decent fried rice. Those who serve, serve it fancy.  When I want fried rice, I just want simple  Fried Rice Restaurant Style . Modifications Made:   Rice was cooked the day before and allowed to dry in the fridge over night.  Then it was dried further in the skillet by dry cooking it with a bit of oil.  The drier the rice, the better the meal.  Rice was removed and eggs were scrambled in the remaining rice goodies.  Peas. This is not a Dr. Seuss book and I will not like them.  Not now, not then, not ever.  Instead I substituted with edamame.  Edamame offers better crunch, less sweetness, and more nutrient.  Both the carrots and the soy were steamed in microwave to retain good stuff. Scaled for Likability: Great No, this not the best fried rice.  The best fried rice requires a wok and a heat source allowing high amount of heat.  I don't have either and this never fully gets to fr

Sweet Biscuit Bites

Leftover night means either breakfast, lunch, or dessert needs to be something new.  Breakfast is difficult to achieve, lunch never happens, so that leaves dessert.  Not one to complain about having dessert but having little time and few ingredients to make a new cookies, I made a cheat dessert. Monkey bread is fantastic.  Homemade bread rolled in sugar and cinnamon and then drenched butter.  Yum.  But like I said, there was no time for cookies much less homemade bread.  Enter store bought biscuits for  Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Loaf .  Modifications Made: Reducing recipe to just half, only one can of biscuits was placed inside a 12" cast iron skillet instead of a loaf pan. Biscuits were cut in quarters, rolled in cinnamon and sugar.  Stick butter was swirled on the bottom and pieces of Country Crock were scattered around the bites during cooking. Scaled for Likability: Great This was the bests parts of cinnamon toast bread made the old fashioned way where bread is but

Pesto Chicken Slices

As stated in yesterday, who really needs a reason to eat pasta?  As much as pasta is filling and would love to be eaten as a meal by itself, healthy sides are needed.  Like green beans.  Fresh green beans to be exact.  Slightly steamed to retain crispness and just a dash of salt.  Now for the protein.   Cheesy Pesto Stuffed Chicken  was just the ticket to complete a new meal.  Modifications Made: Chicken was thinly sliced, leaving just enough thickness to split and fill with 1 tsp of pesto and 1/2 slice of provolone. Cooked till done, pesto and mozzarella was added atop and left to melt.  Lemon juice and butter sauce along with freshly topped tomatoes and basil were omitted. Scaled for Likability: Great Quick and easy this meal was fabulous.  The second time it is made, I will try the lemon juice and butter sauce along side fresh garlic pasta.  Then the third time it is made, I would like to try the recipe as listed but served along side crunchy bread as the addition of tomatoe

Veggie Pizzas with Garlic Noodles

Keto diets are all the rave.  To m, it is a renamed South Beach or Atkins diet.  No carbs, no sugar.  Lots of veggies, cheese, meats.  Been there done that a thousand years ago.  The thing is, some of the recipes from any rave diet actually look good, like these  Zucchini Pizza Bites .  Needing carbs to sustain my table counterparts, I made Buttery Garlic Pasta . Modifications Made (Pizza): Instructions were followed with omission of oregano and Kraft Italian Five Cheese Shredded Blend was used instead of just Parmesan cheese.  Pepperoni slices were cut in quarters for easier placement on smaller slices of zucchini.  Cooking on a cast iron skillet offered a crunchier bottom than a cookie sheet. Modification Made (Pasta): Recipe only called for an 8oz box of pasta.  Hating half open boxes of pasta, the recipe was doubled.  Only one stick of butter was used.  Doubling the butter would have required one and half sticks and for a pound of pasta, that seemed like an absurd amount o

Veg-All Soup

Having a bitter cold winter snap in the first of November leads to warm dinners.  This recipe is yet another from the T&T collection.  Quick, warm, and easy.  By the time the biscuits are ready, dinner is ready too.  Original recipes was: 2 cups pre-cooked diced chicken 1 can Veg-All (with potatoes) 1 can cream of mushroom soup salt and pepper to taste Add all ingredients to pot including juice from Veg-All.  Simmer 20 minutes and adjust thickness/salt/pepper.  Served with homemade biscuits.  Today's dinners was a different story.  Modifications: Sometimes name brand products just have to be name brand.  Substitutions are not worth the savings. The store did not have Veg-All and the knock off version was soggy and tasteless.  Using leftover shredded chicken changed the dish's consistency making it thick and not easy to pour over biscuits. Scaled for Likability: No, Thank You. Today's dinner failed, miserably.  We all ate and seconds were served but it

Mexican Scout

The last two days, recipes from my T&T collection have been served because I am currently out of town while my mom is having surgery.  Today my uncle took me to his favorite Mexican food joint for dinner.  As I am always on a quest for better ways to cook green chicken enchiladas I was game.  Luckily for me, this local joint did not fail in their home style Mexican food.  Nothing fancy, just lots of soul filling goodness.  Simple Spanish rice without corn, carrots, or peas (yeah!), homemade refried beans, huge chicken filled enchiladas lots of green sauce and Monterrey Jack cheese, and a huge dollop of cream cheese.  Scaled for Likability: Great When cooking chicken enchiladas, recipes are either served with just sour cream or just green chili sauce.  The combination of the two combined the tanginess of the green chili to the smoothness of the sour cream.  It was perfect!  Enchiladas, sauce, and cheese were piping hot and the sour cream must have come straight from the fridge a

Gringo Chili

Chili.  With or without beans.  With or without meat.  Doesn't really matter as everyone has their favorite.  My favorite chili came from a store bought brand called Chili Magic Chili Starter. This magic can included beans with all the chili seasonings.  All one had to do was brown some meat, add the bean mixture and a can of diced tomatoes.  IT WAS FABULOUS! According to Bush's website, Chili Magic is still available for purchase, just not locally.  Apparently in the great state of Texas we have to make our own chili from scratch.  And so I do. Currently my T&T chili is one pound ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, venison) and one small onion cooked.  Add one can of petite diced tomatoes with juice, one can of pinto or charro beans with juice, two garlic cloves diced, two tablespoons of chili powder, one teaspoon of comino, salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer and adjust chili powder and salt to taste.  Fairly simple. Scaled for Likability: Great This chili is universa

Okra Gumbo Plus, A Staple

Collections found in my T&T recipe box come from various website, cookbook, self creations, and family members who meals have been altered over time to suit my tastes such as this Okra Gumbo Plus.  Okra Gumbo was a staple growing up as it was cheap and so easy to make even a child who had to stand on a chair at the stove to reach the pot could make it. Originally mom's recipe was: 1 lb venison 1 can diced tomato 1 bag frozen okra 1 cup of rice 2 cups of water Nature Seasoning to taste Brown meat, add remaining ingredients and cook till done.  Simple. Over the years, I have tried various modifications. Fresh vs canned vs frozen veggies.  Searing the okra in a hot skillet to keep it from becoming slimy.  Nature Seasoning, Season-All, plain salt and pepper.  Rice cooked together or separately.  Venison, pork, and beef but not chicken or turkey as fat is needed to hold the ingredients together.  Water, chicken, or veggie broth.  On and on it went... Modifications:

Fishy Fish Soup

Several weeks into eating one new meal a day, I decided to veer off course of the normal dinner searches.  Venetian Fish Soup was just the ticket.  It started out so well with the staple ingredients one would use for gumbo but with added leaks. Sadly, it ended up not being a fancy, tasty meal one would believe would represent Food and Wine Magazine.  Or it could just be, after all this work, it wasn't yummy my standard go to New Orleans gumbo.  Bummer. Modifications Made: In preparation, the fennel was not added as it not locally available.  Unlike the recipes states, this was not served as soon as the fish was done.  The soup was left to meld in flavors over night in hopes of creating better flavors. Scaled for Likability: No, Thank You. Even served with crusty bread, this soup was little to be desired.  I tried and tried and tried.  Dinner was eaten but left overs, which was more than half the pot, was tossed to the scrap bin.  Hopefully, the raccoons like fish.

Boiled Potato and Egg Taco

Weekdays for all working families are busy.  Especially the mornings.  Long ago are the days of home cooked breakfast before going to school/work.  Moms/Dads don't have time for that.  Haven't had time for generations for that.  My parents didn't cook breakfast each morning, I don't cook breakfast so the kid can have a hardy start to his morning, and if the kid was old enough to be on his own (and yes, I am old enough for him to have been on his own by now), he would not have time to have a soul filling breakfast each morning either.  It is the way things are.  Today we eat yogurt and toast and call it a day.  If you are lucky it is yogurt and an egg.  Tonight, Boiled Potato and Egg tacos were developed because 1) there was no yogurt, 2) dinner that was made for tonight is melding its flavors and will be eaten tomorrow, and 3) there was just no time (or energy) for real tacos. Normally potatoes for P&E tacos are cooked in bacon grease till they are nice and soft. 

Peppery Corn and Potato Soup

Potato soup is one my favorite soups.  It is cheap and easy to make, can be made from fresh, left over, or dehydrated potatoes, and best of all can be served in a thousand combinations such as this  Roasted Poblano, Sweet Corn, and Potato Stoup .  Having found a 5lb bag of potatoes on sale at the store and with a whole bag of unused frozen corn at home from the chicken caldo a few days ago, all I needed for this soup was a poblano and leeks. Modifications: In preparation, the amount of potatoes was doubled and the poblano was reduced to half.  In presentation, the cilantro was not served and colby jack cheese was sprinkled on top instead. Scaled for Likability: Good Poblano peppers are a hit and miss ingredient.  Sometimes they can mild and smokey in flavor.  Other times, they are tough in texture and lacking in flavor.  The poblano had flavor but was tough and chewy.  To offset the texture issue, I would puree the poblano pepper along with some of the potatoes to cause the soup t

Greek Rice and Chicken

There are some constants in this house: chicken breasts in the freezer, yogurt in various fats and flavors in the fridge, and white rice in the pantry.  Always having these three constants makes for many variants in dinner.  Having stumbled across this  Greek Spinach Rice  months ago on Pinterest, I finally took the plunge on something very different for dinner and cooked Greek. Well, as Greek as this can be.  To accompany the rice, I found this simple  Greek Chicken Marinade  on a quick search.  Having once read yogurt and oregano were key ingredients to Greek foods, I went full on marinade with whole fat Greek yogurt and dried oregano, not fresh.  Modifications: In preparation, as I did not have all day to let the chicken rest, the chicken was diced to enhance the marinade flavors.  In preparation to the rice, the scallions/chives and dill was left out, low sodium chicken broth was used instead of vegetable broth, and long grain white rice replaced basmati rice.  In presentation, t

Italian Chicken and Veggie

Asparagus on sale!, said no one ever.  This morning I did and always having frozen chicken breasts on hand,  One Pan Italian Chicken Skillet  was the perfect way to use up the leftover yellow squash and zucchini from the dinner last night.  Knowing a stir fry dinner would be a hit, I was sure this was a slam dunk.  Plated, the dish was beautiful with every color except purple. Beautiful was where the dish ended.  Varied textures of the veggies caused the ingredients to clash.  Red and yellow bell peppers crunchy texture overpowered the perfect mixture of the asparagus, mushrooms, squash, and chicken. Modifications Made: In preparation, the Italian seasoning and balsamic vinegar was left out because I don't use it, ever.  Replacement was a simple salt and pepper mixture.  In presentation, the dish was served over white rice but whole grain rice would have been better. Scale for Likability: Good If served at a friends house, this meal would be eaten again without complaint.  Dis