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Showing posts from July, 2020

Opa's Carrot Cake

Opa is learning to cook. As in real cooking not just fried meat and potatoes. In the past year he's made perfected Opa's Goulash (oh, so fantastic), stew, and now Opa's Carrot Cake. I myself am a take it or leave it on carrot cake, the teen counterpart loves all things sugar, but the third counterpart absolutely loves it. So much so, he specifically requests it every time Opa's is visited.  Not having time to make it on this visit, I volunteered. Opa follows the All Recipes Magazine version of Awesome Carrot Cake which is slightly different than the Awesome Carrot Cake recipe found on the All Recipe website. Differences between the two are just a simple substitution of applesauce for vegetable oil but I find the final results makes a huge difference in taste. Modifications Made: Not big on exact carrot measurements, enough carrots were grated that a 2 cup Pyrex glass measuring cup was filled. Made on whim, it was discovered too late my can of pineapple w


During my middle school years I decided I was too old to ride home with the grandparents so I walked. Being home by 4pm also meant dinner would be ready to eat when my mom arrived home by 6pm. So long late night dinners! Deciding what to cook for dinner was exciting.  In my rotation of dinners were three standards:  a hamburger frozen veggie pasta and Velveeta dish, spaghetti in many variations, and S.O.S with green beans and field peas served over either egg noodles or biscuits.  The burger Velveeta dish has gone the way side and who doesn't love spaghetti. S.O.S. on the other hand has not be eaten in close to 15 years. This had to be remedied. Ingredients: 1 lb ground Venison  1 can cream mushroom soup 2 teaspoons onion powder 2 teaspoons garlic powder Salt, to taste Pepper, to taste Egg noodles or Biscuits (fresh not canned) Instructions:  Brown venison meat. Mix in remaining ingredients plus two cans of water.  Cook for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally

Chard Noodle Bowls with Fried Eggs

Chard has become my new favorite homegrown veggie. This late in the summer it's the only thing still happily growing. Last week was the first time swiss chard was cooked with stems. Oh, the lovely crunch. Another recipe had to be found with stems asap. Ocecchiette with Rainbow Chard, Parmesan and Lemon was the lucky winner. Modifications Made: Times to cook swiss chard stems was longer than the stated 1-2 minutes as the recipe stated but this was expected as stems were cooked last week. Total cook time for stems was 5-7 minutes.  Once the swiss chard had started to soften, one tablespoon of pre-chopped garlic was added. If added sooner, it burns. Lemon juice along with the zest of one lemon was added as I had already added the juice when the instructions were fully read.  Pasta water was omitted as it is heavily salted. Extra hot water added to create the saucy consistency desired on the chard mixture. Pasta and chard were not mixed together. Instead each component was layered on

Easy Peasy Salsa, A Staple

Unfortunately there is no scientific data to back up this statement, but I am confident I have eaten twice my weight in salsa. Either commercially made, store house brand, at a restaurant, or my favorite: homemade. Homemade makes twice the amount for the same cost as the commercial brands. AND IT'S BETTER, WAY BETTER! Ingredients: 28 oz canned whole tomatoes, drained   1/4 cup cilantro 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped 1 small fresh garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons) 2 tablespoons white onion, chopped  1 - 1.5 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon chili powder  1/2 teaspoon comino 2 tablespoons lime juice Instructions:  In a blender, add jalapeno, garlic, onion, cilantro, salt, chili powder, comino, and lime juice. Give blender a quick mix, two seconds or so. To blender add two tomatoes and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and well incorporated. Add remaining tomatoes and pulse until desired consistency. Taste for salt and lime juice. Add more if needed. Pour into container with li

Last Minute Asian Noodles

It's late and every one is hungry.  Hangry, even.  Carbs and protein are needed stat. What to eat? What to eat!  Looking through the pantry and not having the energy to make something challenging or time consuming I settled on an  Easy Asian Noodles Recipe , a recipe I have been saving for just such an occasion. Modifications: The listed sauce ingredients when added together consisted of the same ingredients in a different arrangement as ingredients used in the Sweet Thai Sauce. To make the sauce easier I added equal parts Sweet Thai Sauce to soy sauce to create a mixture of 1/4 cup. To the 1/4 sauce, 1 teaspoon each of sesame oil, ginger powder, chopped garlic, and cornstarch was added and mixed well. Because noodles were being served with a side salad, the topped fried egg was omitted. Scaled for Likeness: Good Many months ago a Sesame Garlic Noodle dish was made similar in idea to this recipe. That recipe was only rated at a Good because of my modifications of mixed veggies and

Green Enchilada Casserole

Enchilada casserole is an easy way to feed an army cheese enchiladas.  It has all the flavors of an enchilada plate (cheese enchiladas, beans, rice) but is nicely severed in a square.  It is a great way to sneak in a salad with dinner because a pile of enchilada casserole on a plate is lonely.  Taking this simple concept, green chicken enchilada casserole was created based upon Not My Green Chicken Enchiladas . Ingredients: Two cups seasoned chicken, shredded  Half cup sour cream One jar Herdez Salsa Verde One can black beans, rinsed and well drained One cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 12 corn tortillas One cup cheddar cheese, shredded 4 ounces queso Fresco Salsa Instructions: Seasoned chicken, sour cream, half jar of salsa verde, black beans and monterey jack cheese were mixed in a bowl.  To a 9x9 pan, add one layer of corn tortillas and one third of chicken mixture.  Repeat with two more layers of corn tortilla and chicken.  Cover with final layer of corn tortilla, top with remain

Not Green Enchilada Cassrole

Since last night's  Green Enchilada Casserole  was a winner and I am always on the lookout for new enchilada variations,  Chicken Enchilada Bake with Butternut Squash and Black Beans   Modifications Made: Salsa verde was used instead of red chili sauce, corn tortillas instead of grain tortillas, cheese was a mixture of Monterey jack and cheddar, quarter cup of sour cream was added, and chili powder was increased to one tablespoon. Scaled for Likability: No, Thank You Butternut squash and black beans do not mix at this table.  Well at least not in a casserole, anyways.  Dinner was ate but leftovers were tossed.  Couldn't even find the energy to serve for lunch leftovers.  What a waste.

Hunan Beef Stir Fry

Stir fry is the best way to use leftover veggies. And while is the normal for most stir fry meals served at this table,  Hunan Beef was planned and ingredients were bought with specific intention. Modifications Made: Yellow bell pepper replaced red bell pepper and frozen zucchini replaced fresh.  Ginger was omitted and powder ginger was added to the sauce instead.   Scaled for Likability: Great This is the first Asian recipe where White Ground Pepper was called for and used.  Never has a bottle of ground white pepper been owned and when compared to black pepper there are definite noticable differences.   It seems all Asian sauces contain some sugar but the amount of sugar in this dish is lost to the heat of the Sambal Oelek and white pepper.  The only thing to make this dish better would have been the use of fresh zucchini as stated or the addition of snap or snow peas instead of zucchini.  I am finding the more I cook with zucchini, the less I like it.  Odd.  Next time, the sauce is

Sweet Chard, Carrots, and Onions Over Grains

Summer heat is here. Ugh. While the rest of the garden has done gone and dried up to the winds, the swiss chard is still hanging on. During the heat of the day from 2-5pm when temps reach in the upper 90s and the humidity peeks in the lower 90s, the beautiful leaves wilt over and look dead.  But as the suns cools around 6pm, the leaves pick up and are ready for action again. To celebrate their tenacity: Swiss Chard with Sweet Onions and Carrots . Modifications Made: A red onion was used in place of a Viadala sweet onion and minced garlic replaced fresh.  Scaled for Likeness: Grood Chard: Good Flavor was fantastic with the sweet onion and carrot to offset the slightly bitter tang of the chard and the chard stems offered a great texture balance.  The issue lies with the carrots being to soft for the card when cut into slices.  Carrots really needed to be in large diced carrot chunks.  More like the chard stems seen in the picture. Grains: Great A quinoa, millet, and buckwheat mixture was

Kraft Green Salad

Pistachio Delight, Green Goddess, Pineapple Fluff, the list of name is endless for  Kraft's Watergate Salad . In my memories,  I really enjoyed this special treat.  Modifications: None. Can you believe it? Not me, either. With five ingredients there really is nothing to modify. Scaled for Likeness: Fail Why it was classified as special is now a mystery as after having made it, the ingredients are standard grocery fair and stupid simple to make.  Pretty in color and texture, pretty was all this way.  Kraft Green Salad was too sweet!  Hurt your teeth sweet.  The teen table counterpart at one serving and the rest was tossed to the chickens who can't differentiate between sweet and savory.  Just goes to show you memories are not reliable .

Grams Fruit Salad

There are some recipes in life that are so simple and adaptable it doesn't seem right the results are so fantastic.  Grammy's Fruit Salad is one of those recipes. Don't have fresh peaches, used drained canned. Don't like bananas, leave them out. Want a berry salad only, go ahead. Grammy's Fruit Salad is more of a starting platform than an exact sequence.  Ingredients: 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1 heaping teaspoon sugar 1/2 cup sweetened coconut  1 large Granny Smith apple, diced (with peel) 15 oz can peaches (in juice), slices or halves, well drained 15 oz can pineapple (in juice), pieces or chunks, well drained 28 oz can Mandarin oranges, well drained 1-2 cups red grapes, whole 1 cup walnuts, finely diced 1 small jar Maraschino cherries, halved Instructions: Whip heavy cream and sugar to soft fold.  Add remaining ingredients and toss gently.   Scaled for Likability: Great As a child, Grammy's fruit salad varied with the season to reflect fresh fruit.  Do you re

Coleslaw Lo Mein

When making coleslaw for Red Rocket Salad , extra was made for a quick lo mein lunch since it contains all the same ingredients: cabbage, carrots, green onions.  Knowing lo mein was scheduled for lunch, the noodles were cooked last night and popped in the fridge.  Lunch in fifteen minutes.  See, meal planning can sometimes be helpful. Ingredients: Two tablespoons oil Two cups coleslaw mix One pound box thin spaghetti noodles (cooked without salt) Three tablespoons soy Two tablespoons oyster sauce/Thai chili sauce Teaspoon sesame oil/minced garlic/ginger powder Quarter cup water Tablespoon cornstarch Instructions: Warm noodles in microwave, set aside.  Mix soy, oyster, Thai chili/garlic/ginger powder and set aside.  Mix water and cornstarch, set aside. To large pan, heat oil and sear slaw mixture.  When fully cooked, add soy mixture and cook for one minute.  Toss in noodles and turn to coat evenly.  Add cornstarch mixture and sesame oil and continue to well covered and sauce thick. Scal

Red Rocket Salad

In a world where a trash can is a rubbish bin is dust basket and Americans refusal to learn metric system, reading foreign recipes is always a challenge.  Rocket Coleslaw  was a perfect example for both name and measurement challenges.  Fortunately, I am not deterred by foreign recipes.  Besides, if I get confused, there is always Google to back me up. Modifications Made: Pickles were omitted.  As this is a slaw, a teaspoon or so of white vinegar was added to the sauce to offset the sweetness of the mayo. Scaled for Likability: Great I am in love.  Not so much with this slaw but with baby rocket itself.  It is tender and peppery, just bitter enough to be a green and not spinach, is wonderful to nibble on straight from the produce box, and is a fabulous addition to slaw.  Next time, I would make a mayo-vinegar red cabbage-less slaw and pile it atop of heaping mound of baby rocket instead of mixing it together. Potato, potato, arugula, baby rocket.  This table will never refer to arugula

Creole Shrimp Skillet

I don't know anyone in the south who doesn't love cajun/creole foods. It is spicy, ladened with meat and fish, and is good either in soups or stews or skillet dishes. The main difference between the two dishes is Creole is usually tomato based and cajun is not.  Cajun Shrimp and Dirty Rice Skillet  is not really Cajun at all but Creole. Tomato, tomato, either, either, it's the final product that matters.  Modifications Made: Garlic was doubled.  One pound of Boudin and one pound of shrimp seemed excessive.  Therefore only one link of Boudin sausage and three quarter pound of shrimp were used.  Tomato paste and parsley were omitted.  Tony Chachere's was chosen Cajun seasoning.  Did you expect anything different? Boudin was skillet fried heavily to create a nice crunchy outside casing.  Once cooled, it was sliced into chunks.  To boudin grease, onions, celery, and peppers were cooked until soft.  Remaining instructions were followed and boudin was returned at the same tim

Shrimp and Slaw

When at the beach there is nothing like a dinner of Panko Shrimp and Vinegar Coleslaw .  Yesterday's less than spectacular fried crab cakes created a need for fabulous fried shrimp.  Sadly, there were not enough okras in the garden for another round of fried okra to accompany fried shrimp.   Modifications Made: Shrimp: To flour mixture, salt was omitted and one tablespoon of Tony Chachere's was added.  Of course!  Yogurt was added to the egg instead of milk or water as normally used. Slaw: White vinegar replaced ACV, dried mustard replaced grainy mustard, and white sugar was used instead of honey.  Dressing was mixed and set aside in the fridge to meld while veggies were shredded in the food processor.  Slaw was tossed and returned to fridge while shrimp were fried. Scaled for Likability: Great Shrimp: Great Panko crumbs are gods gift to cooking.  Before panko crumbs all fried dishes were slightly soggy.  There are always two boxes of panko crumbs in the pantry: plain and garl

Extra Tangy Lemon Bars

The table counterpart loves lemon sweets. More than chocolate, ice cream, or cookies (unless they are lemon cookies). The desert most loved is a lemon curd braided sweet bread. While I agree it's oh so good, our current living conditions do not warrant the space to make lemon braided bread or cook it. Regulated to a 9x9 pan and after months and months of looking, I found  Ina Garten's Lemon Bars  and the reviews stated it wasn't too sweet and it was adaptable to 9x9 pan.  Perfect!  Modifications Made: Powder sugar was only added when plated to keep the sugar from becoming sticky when stored in the fridge overnight. Scaled for Likability: Good This crust was dense and held together well with the lemon, however, the butter overpowered the bar.  Neither the bar nor the curd was overwhelming sweet even with three cups of sugar in the curd itself!  My favorite part was the layer form on the curd when cooking.  Don't know if this was supposed to happen but it added a lovely c

Fried Okra

When life you gives you lemons you made fried okra.   The day started out with dinner as BBQ turkey fresh from the pit.  Having cooked for over five hours the turkey was still not done and everyone was getting handry.  Needing something quick and easy,  fried okra  using homegrown okra and store bought crab sandwiches was quickly served up. Modifications Made: Egg diced okra was tossed in a simple mixture of cornmeal and Tony Chachere's.  Of course. Scaled for Likability: Great Oh, no thank you, I don't care for fried okra said no person EVER.  Even people who won't okra in a soups or stews will eat fried okra.  What goes better with fried okra than fried fish or in this case fried crab cakes.  The cakes were ok, my homemade version is better but six cakes for five dollars is hard to beat.  Okra was out this world.  Next time there is an abundance of okra I am making fried okra with a side salad.  Dinner served.  Delish.

Sandwich MixUp

Wanted a Reuben sandwich but didn't have the correct bread or time to cook the corned beef.  Settled for deli roast beef with swiss and sauerkraut on pumpernickel. Not bad.  Would even eat this again even if I did have access to fresh cooked corned beef and dark rye bread.

Portabella Cap Burgers

Went to the store for dinner ideas which is always bad because this results in more food than needed in the basket and dinner ideas are still lingering. Upon arrival at the local store, dinner plans were laid out before my eyes like a neon sign in the night.  Not five feet in the door as organic portabella caps on sale.  With a recipe for  Balsamic Portobello Burgers  with Garlic Aioli Sauce  stored on one of the numerous food feeds, dinner was sorted out without extra food items in the basket! Modifications Made: Garlic Aioli: was made following the instructions from Garlic Chicken Burgers  way back in November.  If it ain't broke, then don't fix it.  Besides, this recipe is fantastic, even if it mayo (gross) based. Burgers: Three tablespoons of red wine vinegar replaced balsamic vinegar and to offset the lack of sugar found in the balsamic vinegar one tablespoon of marsala was added to the marinade. Scaled for Likability: Fail One bite for each of the two table counterparts a

Sweltering Summer Chard Soup

Oh, the heat.  Summer is so hot and there are still three months to go before cooler (highs in the upper 90's) are back.  As the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them.  And what better way to beat the heat than with a nice bowl of  White Bean Chard Soup .   Modifications Made: Two links Italian sausage 1/2 large yellow onion, diced 2 celery sticks, diced 1 large carrot stick, diced 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced Medium bunch of chard, roughly cut 2 T garlic 1 T cilantro 4 cups chicken stock 2 cups water 1 can white beans, drained Salt & Pepper Instructions: In large pot, sausage links were crumbled and well cooked.  To sausage, onion, celery, carrots, bell peppers were cooked for about five minutes.  To veggies, chard, garlic, stock, water, beans, and cilantro were added and cooked until veggies are tender.  Adjust seasonings as needed. Scaled for Likability: No, Thank You To my recollection, bell peppers in a soup are never good.  They

Canjun Chicken Cakes

If you asked me what my favorite meat was I would say hamburger. Seriously, if given the option and if burgers were suddenly healthy, I could and would eat a burger everyday. Breakfast burger, lunch burger, dinner burgers.  Love me some burgers! If you asked my table counterparts what my favorite meat was they would say chicken. Whole chicken followed closely by ground chicken. Chickens (yes, chickens not chicken) is good, I have to admit. Chicken and Rice , Green Chicken Enchiladas , and Chicken Spinach Feta Garlic Pasta  are just a few of my T&T favorites.  These  Chicken Cakes  might quickly become a favorite, too. Modifications Made:  To start, the recipe was halved. Poultry seasoning was swapped for Tony Chachere. Tabasco sauce, parsley, dijon, and mayo were omitted. Breadcrumbs and eggs were omitted, too.  If you read the instructions you will never cook these. The recipe is not complicated if you follow my procedure.  Sautee all bell peppers and onions in teaspoon of butter.

Burnt Beans Hot Dog

Happy Non Fourth of July! There is nothing more American than hotdogs on the grill on July 4th.  Except when you forget it is the fourth because you live/work/hibernate at home to avoid the pandemic causing all days and weeks become one. The good thing about hotdogs on the grill is they are good any day of the week. As you can tell these are my hotdogs as they are about as close to being burnt as burnt can be without burnt. Buns were warmed in microwave, dogs were topped with ranch style beans, and the entire mess is covered with shredded cheddar cheese.  Delish!

Greek Triangles

Oh, the debate.  Soda, Pop, Coke they are all the same.  People in the internet land have lost their minds over the debate over Greek Triangles or Samosas.  Too many people getting lost in the details, just rename it already and get on with the more important part, the food itself!   Greek Spanakopita Triangles Modifications Made: To one cup feta, two sprigs of chopped green onion, a half cup of chopped frozen spinach, and salt and pepper were mixed well together to form a creamy paste.  Only two sheets per wrap were used and were sprayed with olive oil as a pastry brush is not owned. Scaled for Likability: Good Wonderful in flavor, crumbly in texture.  Too crumbly in texture causing the triangles to fall apart while holding.  Not quite large enough for two full bites and too large for one bite, biting into two pieces was disastrous resulting in the need for a fork. Light yet filling, these triangles were perfect for a lunch treat.  Just not a hot summer lunch as cooking in the oven wh

Gourmet Breakfast Jacks

Still suffering from this here pandemic, and not having any junk food vendors to quench my cravings, I decided to make Jack In the Box Breakfast Jack's, gourmet style.  It is basically a  Daycare Hot Ham & Cheese  but grilled and with an egg. Instructions: I liked, this may seem like a HH&C with the simple addition of a fried egg, but let me assure you it is not.  In fact, it is a lot more work than a HH&C with completely different cooking instructions. Heavily butter and grill the buns on a skillet. One slice of American cheese, set aside to warm to room temp. With buns grilling to a nice and dark coloring, warm the two to four slices of ham lunch meat in the microwave.  Remove meat and pat dry excess moisture.  Set aside. To a second skillet, fry an egg to desired level of cook.  Set aside. With buns cooked to a nice golden brown or darker (if like me) assemble sandwich: ham, cheese, egg. Scaled for Likability: Great When cooking the egg, do not season with salt as th

German Wraps

Not wanting a half box of Phyllo dough in the freezer to become burnt, dinner recipes were searched and searched.  Phyllo dough as it turns out has very limited uses with exception to Greek foods and dessert.  Therefore when  German Krautstrudel  was accidently stumbled across and it specifically called for Phyllo dough as the bread base, I knew this recipe would be an immediate hit with one simple modification. Modification Made: Breakfast sausage was swapped for bacon and was heavily seasoned with caraway and fennel seeds to accent German flavorings.  One finely shredded carrot was added to the cabbage, pepper, and onion mixture.  Sausage and veggie mixture was cooked low and slow to allow moist all of the moisture to cook out avoiding soggy dough bottoms.  Scaled for Likability: Great A little too time consuming for a quick lunch or weeknight meal, this recipe should be saved for weekends.  Unless, however, the insides are prepped ahead of time and stored in the fridge for later usa

Daycare Hot Ham and Cheese

Summer after college graduation, I worked at a local small daycare while waiting for the next school year interviews to begin.  It was fantastic!  So fantastic, I spent the next 10 years there as a teacher, an office assistant, and then as assistant director.  I loved the children, I loved the job, and I loved the food! One of my most favorite meals served monthly, sometimes like during the summer twice monthly, was Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches.  Oh, they were fabulous.  Cheap ham lunch meat, slice American cheese, toasty hamburger buns served with either pork and beans (gross), tater tots (good, but not my favorite), or plain ruffle-ish potato chips (my favorite). Ingredients: Black Forest Ham (the thin generic type, not the fancy deli version) American Cheese (the kind that comes in a block and you peel off in slices like this but single serve Kraft slices will work, too) Hamburger Buns (the small cheap white honkey version, they are the best!) Instructions: Set oven to 350 degrees.

No Knead Flatbread

When cooking a meal, as most meals seem, it is a last minute decision solely based upon looking in the fridge/freezer/pantry and deciding what will be the easiest to prepare.  As it happens with meal planning in this fashion, it is only during the cooking process does one realize how much better dinner would be with a warm slice of crunchy homemade bread, a chunk of fluffy store made French bread, or freshly baked croissant rolls.  Of course, one never has the forethought or time to make homemade bread even with the pandemic amongst us, the store doesn't always have fresh made French bread loaves, and there are never croissant rolls in the fridge because when you do you bake them.  When the unexpected sudden need for warm bread strikes, one can simply use this oh, so versatile T&T  5 Ingredient Olive Oil Bread  to fill the void. Modifications Made: None. Scaled for Likability: Great Over the past several months, No Knead Flatbread as we call them have been made in various flavo

Cabbage and Carrots Pancakes

Success at Scallion Flatbread lead to  Savory Cabbage Pancakes . Modifications Made: Let's just get this out of the way right now.  Measurements went right out the window.  There is cabbage and carrots, green onions and an egg, a dash of sesame oil and three shakes of soy, and flour until the pancake would holds its shape. Scaled for Likability: Good For a first attempt, these were very good when served with a sweet chili/soy sauce for dipping.  Next time, more soy needs to be within the mixture along with a dash of white pepper for some heat and all veggies need to be finely chopped so they cook evenly with less crunch.