Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 13 -- Chicken Lazone

The last big cook for 2014. I need lunch this week but next week I won't plus I'll be leaving to visit Mom. I am planning on cooking for Grandma on Christmas Eve then I always take Mom something special that can't be had in Tennessee.

I had to do a Saturday dinner because Sunday had family obligations. I tried Chicken Lazone. This recipe would have worked if I had read the recipe right. One of those small cartons of cream is two cups! I added another two cups of half and half. Needless to say my sauce never thickened. I could've added flour but I let it be.

I served this over fetuccine. I expected it to be more spicy. I may try this again, remembering that the cream is one carton or half and half with a little flour is enough to make the sauce.

December 7 -- Chicken Cacciatore

It is time for some Italian comfort food so chicken cacciatore was on the menu. This is a simple recipe from the Food Network and Giada de Laurentiis. I guess she is a famous chef, either way, her cacciatore recipe was a winner.

I followed the recipe faithfully except for the wine. I don't keep cooking wine on hand but I read that you could substitute chicken broth. I went for the low sodium broth and it came out fine. I also used tenders instead of thighs and left out the capers. I am not exactly sure what a caper is.

This one is on the 'make again' list.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

November 30 -- Turkey Dinner

Not much to say here. I cooked a turkey breast, corn, green beans, stuffing, garlic parmesan instant mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. It was good and there was a ton of food.

Friday, November 28, 2014

November 23 -- Taqueria Style Tacos

I have been seeing a lot of taqueria style tacos, with shredded chicken, cilantro, onion, sour cream, and a little bit of cheese. It is all wrapped in a corn tortilla. So easy, but so perfect.

I took the chicken and sauteed it in a bit of oil with a variety of pepper, New Orleans spice, black pepper, a little cayenne, enough to give it a kick but not to overpower. Then I shredded it with a fork. In a food processor, I put the onion and cilantro together and pulsed it a couple times to get a rough cut. I spread in the sour cream and the white queso crumbling cheese.

For the tortillas, I used flour tortillas since I do not like the texture or flavor of corn tortillas. I did as the recipe said and put the tortillas right on the burner until they were slightly browned.

It was a perfect lunch if you like the flavors and it saved the calories with tons of shredded cheese.

The recipe is here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November 16 -- Shrimp or Chicken Scampi

This is one of my favorite dishes from one of my favorite books written by one of my favorite writers.

In 1995, Mr. Kuralt traveled to his 12 favorite places, living in each for a month. January was New Orleans and he included a recipe for Chef Goffredo's Scampi la Riviera.

I know I can't do it justice. I overcooked my shrimp, but here it is. The way the flavors come together is like magic, who knew that butter, lemon juice, and vinegar could come together to make such a flavor. I added a chicken breast since I didn't have enough shrimp, they come in 3/4 pound bags.

Scampi la Riviera
2 lbs. large shrimp
1/2 cup butter
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup red vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 mint leaves
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon paprika
pinch of oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shell the shrimp, leaving only the tail shell. De-vein and rinse the shrimp and place them in a large cast-iron skillet atop a thin layer of olive oil. Season them with salt and sprinkle them with paprika. Bake in the over for 7 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and add lemon juice, chopped mint, garlic, vinegar, and parsley. Sprinkle on a little more olive oil.

Place the skillet on a medium flame.

Add a bit of water and the butter and oregano. Cover the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, or until the flavor is concentrated and the sauce is smooth and thick enough to coat a spoon.

Top with parsley and serve.

November 9 -- Stuffed Chicken

This was a homemade recipe that really wasn't much, just some comfort food since it's now dark when I do my weekend cooking.

I split some chicken breasts, partially thawed and butterflied them. I cooked them at 400 for 10 minutes while the stuffing was on the stove top. I put stuffing inside and folded over the chicken and put it back in for 5 minutes under the broiler.

While it was broiling, I made a can of green beans and a bit of sour cream and butter sauce, reduced in a sauce pan and lightly whisked. I poured that over the green beans for some flavor and then the rest over the chicken.

It wasn't anything spectacular but it made lunch for the week.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 2 -- Taco Salads

I like tacos and I like eating the bowl so this is a double win for me. Taco salads are simple and it is much better to make your own taco bowls rather than the store bought bowls.

To make a taco bowl you flip either a ceramic bowl or a coffee mug. Spray with non-stick cooking spray then drape the bowl over the bowl to make the indentation. After 10 minutes at 400, carefully remove the shell from the bowl. I usually use a spatula to carefully flip my bowls. You can allow them to cool on the baking sheet.

For the filling, brown your meat and add taco seasoning. Drain off the fat and set aside then open the balance of your toppings. Place the meat on the bottom, then I like black beans, lettuce, diced tomatoes, and cheddar. Make sure all the vegetables are well drained so they don't leak through the bottom of your bowl. Put in a taco bowl, now with the flat bottom down, and put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Add the cold toppings, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole, and enjoy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October 26 -- Shrimp and Spinach Risotto

Ever since Phyllis shared with me how easy risotto was to make, I've been not afraid to make it. This recipe had it all, hidden vegetables that you don't taste, shrimp, and a fine flavor with only 405 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat.

The recipe is here. The only change I would've made is choosing the larger shrimp. The medium shrimp were small and took a long time to untail. Other than that, I was loyal to the recipe and it came out fine. It was good but may not be so good I'll do it a second time good.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 19 -- Southwest Chicken

I wanted something quick and easy and this met that requirement. Three cans and some chicken all in one pot. Here's the recipe. One day I threw a dollop of sour cream into the container and that was tasty too. I upped the heat but it didn't get too spicy. This was a winner of a dish that can be made up in a big batch and be parceled out.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 12 -- Turkey Dinner

I have wanted turkey for a long time but nobody around her carries turkey out of season. Why? I have no idea.

This was standard with no recipe. I purchased turkey cutlets for way too much ($6.49 a pound) and marinated them for an afternoon with a variety of peppers, New Orleans seasoning and black pepper, and a healthy amount of olive oil. It was cooked on a Foreman grill then carved thin. I added mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. It was all very good, especially the turkey.

The turkey got a high compliment from someone at my lunch table. "Boy, that smells good," I'd imagine she's cooked many years as a long time married lady. My food is even starting to smell good to other people!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

October 5-- Fast Chicken Parm

This recipe was even more tasty after the flavors had a chance to rest as leftovers. I stole it from Reader's Digest but the link I found is from the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The lack of sauce and breading makes this fast and the fear of dripping sauce on myself at work was gone. I loved the idea of making bread crumbs then mixing them with the cheese. I used a bit of asiago that was left over from the salmon two weeks ago. The only mistake I made was skimping on the basil and using stuff from the spice rack that is long dead.

This was a winner that will have to come around again.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

September 28 -- Arroz con Pollo, again

Because it was so good the first time, I made another pot of arroz con pollo, yellow rice and chicken. The recipe was from back in April. Here is the write up. I added some broccoli to the rice because I like to hide my vegetables. The recipe did bring up a question from one of my students, his mom makes a similar dish, locrio (accent on the end) con pollo. Locrio has a bit of tomato sauce. That may be coming up soon.

I had so much rice and chicken, I gave away three lunches, all three said it was good. I guess I might be getting good at this thing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

September 21 -- Salmon with Pesto

I was looking for suggestions at work and Maureen in the library had this suggestion.

I took some vacuum packed salmon from Aldi and put it under in the oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. It sprinkled it liberally with asiago cheese and let it bake. It came out perfect.

While that was going, I took a cup of olive oil, a bunch of basil, two garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, and a liberal pile of parmesan into the food processor and blended until smooth for a pesto topping. That recipe is here.

I sat the fish on a bed of white rice mixed with more parmesan and some black pepper.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 14 -- Pastitsio

Well, it finally happened. I hit upon a recipe I won't make again.

Pastitsio can be described crudely as "Greek lasagna", it has marinated beef, elbow macaroni, topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. It was ok, but I don't spend almost two hours on a dish for it to be just ok. The bechamel sort of sat on top of the meat and macaroni mixture. Also it took forever to make, at least 90 minutes. It was all in all underwhelming. I do enjoy it when Greek friends who have some idea what they're doing make it but pastitsio -- never again.

The recipe I used is here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 7 -- Italian Stew

What is becoming of me? Beside becoming a bit of a foodie, I'm also an NPR listener. It is the first preset in the car and the clock radio alarm because there is a 6 AM news update for school days. The weekend also has The Splendid Table. I don't listen on purpose, but if it's on when I'm in the car, I keep it on.

This week in the Prairie Home Companion weekly email, there was a recipe for Italian Stew from Mrs. Sundberg's Window. It came in Friday, setting me up perfectly for Sunday.

The recipe was easy. I cut back on the onion since I couldn't get scallions at either of my stores and I had to settle for a sweet yellow onion. I put parmesan on the Sunday dinner portion. I could really use a roll for sopping up some of the beef-tomato broth left behind in the bowl when you are done picking out the steak, vegetables, and noodles. It is a hearty dish for the incoming fall weather.

I will make this again, especially if I remember to have some Italian bread on hand.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Road Trip Eating

I left town on August 2 and came back August 18 with a day in the middle to get clean clothes. Here are some places to eat if you find yourself driving around the Northwest and a treat in a place you'd never expect:

We flew from Philadelphia to Boise to start off a sightseeing, place collecting, and brewery visiting vacation. I'm becoming more of a foodie and there were some places I had to try then others that were just found along road.

Boise: 10 Barrels Brewpub was the most exceptional turkey sandwich I never had. The fries, because they are super fresh, had a different taste. They also serve fries with fry sauce (1 part ketchup, 2 parts mayo) that is popular in Idaho and Utah.

Pendleton, Oregon, was at Wildhorse Casino Resort. Since it was on a reservation, they had a Native American style in the hotel, casino, and restaurants. We went to the sports bar and I got the $7 Indian taco, a taco on traditional fry bread. It was tasty and really cheap for dinner.

On to Portland, I noticed that Bunk Sandwiches had been visited by several Food Network shows, particularly the location on Morrison. The pork belly cubano is the famous sandwich. It was good but a little fatty. I can only imagine this sandwich, with beautiful thick pork, on a Philadelphia-made hoagie roll.

One of those stumble across places was on the coast in Garibaldi, Oregon. We stopped at the Park Side Coffee House, with five inside tables, one bathroom, and wait staff who knew everyone within 20 miles. I had clam chowder and it was the best I've had outside Boston.

In Seattle, I had Ivar's clam strips at Safeco Field. Safeco has the widest variety of ballpark food I've ever seen. The next night, I threw caution to the wind and gave up the ghost on sushi. We settled on Wasabi Bistro in Belltown because if you're having sushi it has to be fresh and upscale. I trusted the other diners and my waiter, Blake, to make the right selections. They were right, everything was wonderful and I'd even go eat sushi again.

That ended that trip but then it was off to Mom's in Bristol, Tennessee where I found a hidden gem at Abingdon Olive Oil Company with a new tasting room in Bristol, Virginia. They have more than 50 infused oils and balsamics free for the tasting or dipping. I settled on a 375 mL bottle of Tuscan herb. If you are in the area, it is a good way to spend an hour, sniffing and tasting oils and vinegars that are unique.

That's it. It's back to school time then back to Mom's at Christmas time. Back to cooking on Sunday.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20 -- Provencal Tuna Melt

I like the tuna melt, until the grease hits rock bottom but this recipe is butter free and only involves the broiler for preheating plus five minutes. I modified the recipe and would modify more if I did it again.

I didn't have all the spices and things so I spiced up a can of tuna with celery seeds, red pepper flakes, and a few twists of the black pepper grinder. I cut the mayonnaise to one heaping teaspoon from two tablespoons. My choice for soft cheese was Havarti along with sourdough bread. It brought together a nice, non-greasy tuna melt along with a caesar salad from a bag.

With sourdough, the bread did not fall apart when I moved it which is a bonus. I sliced it with my pizza cutter into three triangles. All is well with the world.

Next week is the last recipe for a few weeks. I'll be eating road food. Maybe I'll post reviews of the dining options of the Northwest and Appalachian South instead. I already have a few favorites down Virginia into northeastern Tennessee.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 13 -- Fish Tacos

This was a let's use everything up in the fridge because it was bought two weeks ago kind of meal. I had leftover scallions and tomatoes from the pico for pork and pico on June 29 and they were teetering the edge of no longer being edible. So into the food processor it went. I also had some lettuce shreds and an open bag of Mexican cheese. Plus there was a box with five fish fillets left. Waste not, want not.

I put one fillet, a generous spoonful of pico, some lettuce, and a handful of cheese in a tortilla. Folded it up and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes after the oven was heated to make the fish fillets.

Two fish tacos was enough for me. I also ate one fillet alone and now there are two for dinner during the week.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6 -- Crispy Carnitas

I really thought I messed this one up. When the pork roast came out of the oven, it was 7 somewhat charred bricks of meat but underneath that burnt coating was succulent slow roasted pork. Who knew?

A little back story, the best barbecue I've ever had was at Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, the original one on Vine. It is well worth the wait and it will be a stop when I'm wealthy and I eat my way across the country. I ordered the burnt ends and this carnitas recipe came out like burnt ends using a pork roast instead of ribs.

On to the recipe, I cut my roast into 7 chunks, maybe 2 by 2 inches square and I added the rub as suggested with a little cinnamon sugar since I didn't have a cinnamon stick. I also left out the bay leaf because I don't have any on hand. I put in my water and did as I was told. I only touched the pot once. Maybe I should have added more water with a half hour to go but I didn't. I just let it cook.

I figured I'd be wrapping the carnitas in a tortilla with cheese and some tomatoes but instead I dipped it in Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce and paired it with a caesar salad.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29 -- Pork and Pico

I went back to pork ribs tonight with a little pico wrapped in a tortilla. I took the pork ribs and seasoned them. I threw them in the oven for an hour at 300 for a nice slow cook.

While they were cooking, I put three plum tomatoes, four green onions, and two cloves of garlic in the food processor to make fresh pico de gallo.

The pork and pico were wrapped in tortillas for dinner. Nothing too exciting but an easy meal.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22 -- Ravioli Lasagna

I make about one lasagna a year because it takes a while to construct and cook. Lasagna was a suggestion last night but everybody makes lasagna. It's not unique, but with ravioli, that's different.

I took one package of ground beef, browned and drained as the ravioli boiled. Then I greased a casserole with olive oil and layered ravioli at the bottom, put on a layer of meat, sauce, and mozzarella, then repeated the layers. Into the oven for 40 minutes at 375 and it was done. It made a lot of food, good for the week when I don't feel like cooking after camp.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15 -- Leftovers... so a side of risotto

As the party wound down last night, we realized there were 15 uneaten chicken parmigiana left in the chafing dish. They brought out plenty of containers and I was the lucky recipient of two pieces of chicken along with roasted potatoes and the string bean mix. This would present a problem, what should I cook for my adoring readers?

Phyllis, who is an excellent 4th grade teacher and an excellent cook too, told me "risotto is easy" after I found a kit on a one week sale at Aldi in the early spring. I found the last container of arborio rice at Pathmark and went to down. A little arborio goes a long way in risotto and I'm going to have fun with this one.

I did the arborio the way I was told. Chicken broth after you slightly roast the rice in butter and oil, 2 minutes. You put 3 cups of broth in a pot and bring it to a boil. Drop in your rice. After the rice soaks up the broth, pour on one more cup and let that simmer until it's all soaked up.

While soaking, go to town with your food processor. Tonight was parsley, garlic, and a bit of green onion from last week's dish. I poured in a half cup of parmesan and topped with a few turns of milled black pepper. As with every time I make rice, there is a ton left over so that will be a side this week. I am thinking a bit of chicken chopped into chunks.

This recipe was the basis for my cooking this week.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8 -- Gaucho Style Steak

I picked Argentina to win the World Cup that begins this week so I figured I'd go with a traditional Argentine supper, steak and roasted vegetables.

The steak was prepared on the Foreman grill then slices and put back on the grill. I like my meat done well. I wish I could've gotten it crispy like burnt ends but it was good.

The vegetables were yellow squash, zucchini, and bell pepper pan fried in a little olive oil and black pepper. They came out nice and tender and added some good color to the plate.

Finally, there was chimichurri, a parsley-olive oil based spread for the steak. I misread the recipe and added too much vinegar. I tried to cut it by adding some brown sugar to cut back the acid then drained off some of the liquid. It was good, but for the leftovers, I think I will make another batch of chimichurri since I have plenty of garlic, oil, and parsley.

Here's the official Food Network recipe.

As for the World Cup, everyone I know is from somewhere. I have students rooting for Brazil, Argentina, and Portugal. Another friend is for Bosnia. I have the blood of several nations in the tournament running through my veins, five off the top of my head. So let's hope it's a good tournament without anyone being headbutted in the chest.

Edit: Round two I did just oil, garlic, parsley, and two chopped scallions. It is exceptional. I can't wait to use it on chicken or some toasted Italian bread.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1 -- Stuffed Mexi-Chicken

I wanted to make stuffed turkey croquets with Thanksgiving dinner inside, stuffing, cranberry sauce, but there is no turkey to be found in June so I settled for chicken stuffed with pico.

I split 3 large chicken breasts for the filling. The pico is a large tomato, a few sprigs of cilantro, three cloves of garlic, and four diced scallions. I threw them in a the food processor and pulsed it a couple times. It smells great.

I will stuff the chicken with the pico and some queso blanco crumbling cheese and top with sour cream. The chicken will be put in the oven for 20 minutes or so at 400. I'll put the stuffing in with five minutes to go. A light meal for the hot days ahead.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25 -- Tomato Salad

Quick and easy for the first weekend of 'summer' plus I am taking this weekend off from heavy cooking. There is no lunch needed on Monday, so that means only two days of lunches for the week. I'm going with Foreman grill burgers tomorrow, I may try stuffing them with cheese and spices. I will make two extra for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday. I also bought potato rolls for the burgers. Tonight is spaghetti with jarred marinara sauce. I will look in the freezer to see what kind of protein can be thrown on top., quick and easy.

I still need to give you something to use though because you are counting on me. This week is tomato salad, my go to for a summer backyard affair that is versatile.

1 container (12 oz.) grape tomatoes
1 large bocconcini (mozzarella)
1 tbsp. olive oil
basil and pepper to taste

Cut the grape tomatoes in half. Slice up the bocconcini into pieces the same size as the grape tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil and throw on some basil and crushed black pepper. Put it in a container and shake so everything is drizzled. Takes about 15 minutes to cut everything.

This reminds me of my grandparents and their six tomato plants in the yard that were always planted around Memorial Day and would start producing tomatoes around July 4. You can't find that flavor anymore in the store-bought food.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 18 -- Chicken Spiedini

The 5th graders cook on Wednesday. This week is their final dinner and chicken spiedini is on the recipe. When I googled the recipe, it came up with a Paula Deen concoction with chicken, asiago, and breadcrumbs. This is rosemary and tons of olive oil.

The recipe is here and my changes are here: I cooked the chicken for six minutes each side instead of five. It was still tender, almost falling off the stick, but after 5 it didn't look done enough on the first turn. I added cilantro to the salsa. The parsley has to be real fine to make the traditional salsa, verde or rojo/tomate, but it is nice to put the chicken on your fork then stab at a bit of the seasoned leaves of parsley and cilantro.

I also did a full jalapeno for the hot salsa. I bought two for 49 cents. Is it worth buying a single jalapeno pepper?

This was also the first time I used the fresh herbs at Acme. They worked but man are those things expensive.

I made enough to share this one. A 2 1/2 pound bag of chicken gave me a dozen full skewers. I did a double batch of salsa. I think I will un-skewer the meat and put it in the container with a bit of salsa for the lunch portions. A skewer and a half should be enough for each day. I had three skewers for dinner.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10 -- Minnesota Hot Dish

I like when my vegetables are hidden. This past week, I made ravioli and alfredo sauce but I hid a package of spinach in the alfredo sauce. You have to get your greens in somewhere.

I never heard of hot dish until I listened to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. It's the 40th anniversary of PHC this year and here's a feel good recipe that is great on a cold, winter night even though I made it on a warm, humid, middle spring night.

There is not much to say about it, ground beef, onions, a bag of mixed vegetables, cream of mushroom soup, cheese, and tater tots, all layered and baked at 400 for 20 minutes. The hard part is browning the ground beef.

The yield was one large dinner and two lunches. What will I do for Wednesday?

Here's the recipe.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4 -- Paella

I ask for ideas and one of the suggestions was paella. It is a lot of different meats which means a lot of prep if you don't plan it right, shrimp, chicken, and sausage is a lot of work. I used flash frozen shrimp. You can literally eat them out of fridge because they're cooked and frozen quickly. The jumbo are just a bit more than the small and actually less than the medium at my market so I went with big shrimp.

Here is the recipe: Easy Paella

It was about a 45 minutes from start to finish. Not a terrible amount of time. You are de-tailing shrimp while the chicken is cooking and the rice is simmering. The rice was very good and made an amazing amount of food. I was surprised how crispy it was when it was added to the stock but it sucked up the entire quart of chicken stock and made some nice fluffy rice.

I substituted a packet of sazon instead of saffron threads and kielbasa for chorizo. I would have been better served with Italian sausage than kielbasa. The Polish sausage was too sweet for the dish.

Overall it gave me a large dinner, another dinner, plus three lunches. Four pounds of meat, according to the recipe, I shortened the chicken, is a lot of food so cut the recipe if you're cooking for fewer than an army.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 27 -- Oven Chicken Chimichangas

Back in la cocina today for a Mexican favorite. I wasn't sure what I'd be making until after midnight. I looked around and found this recipe for oven baked chimichangas.The only mistake I made this time around was using a metal spatula to flip the chimis. The metal and my forky spatula went right through the tortillas. Use a spoon if you choose to flip. After the five minute flip, I skipped the 10 minute flip. They still came out nice.

Using the salsa to cook was a fine idea but I didn't have enough so I subbed in 6 ounces of diced tomatoes. I topped the chimis with guacamole in a packet. I like to take the corner off and use it like I'm piping icing.

My recipe, although it said 'serves six' I made five, pretty much what the casserole could fit. I had two for dinner and I am very full. That leaves three for lunches or dinner this week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Kabobs

A quick, summertime (even though the winds scream winter isn't dead yet), dinner are kabobs. They meet my requirements of meat, vegetables, and eating food off a stick. Two of those things I enjoy, one I tolerate.

I made a Memphis-style dry rub more for ribs but I put it on the raw chicken after it was diced.

Here are the spices for the rub:
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons salt or adobo
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
 That makes a lot of rub. You can set it aside and use it on ribs or steak.

Chop your peppers into pieces about the same size as the grape tomatoes and skewer them. Two chicken breasts, a large pepper, and half a pound of grape tomatoes made 6 kabobs. Cook on the Foreman style grill for 12 minutes. It was 30 minutes from slicing into the chicken to eating dinner.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lent is Tough -- Sour Cream Sauce on Salmon

"Lent is tough on carnivores," says one of my co-workers. I countered with, "not as tough as hanging on a cross for 3 hours."

So tonight as you dig into your salmon fillet and French cut green beans, kick it up with a simple sauce that blends creamy and tart.

In a frying pan, melt one tablespoon of butter. After it is melted somewhat, add two tablespoons of sour cream. Melt it down, add a pinch of dill, and pour over your salmon and green beans.

From earlier this week, I did an "everything in the spice rack" dry rub on some pork ribs. I put a little of everything, crushed pepper, cumin, cajun seasoning, paprika, and basil in a bag and threw the boneless ribs in a ziploc bag and coated them. Ten minutes on the Foreman grill and they were done. They were even better the next day when the spices had a chance to get into the meat.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 13 -- Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo, rice with chicken, is the quintessential Caribbean dish. Cheap ingredients and filling, it is a staple for many of the students where I work but make it myself? That would mean going into the Goya aisle at the market.

I made a lot of mistakes today but the dish still came out terrific, if not a bit salty. I think the rice (Goya brand arroz amarillo) was already seasoned with sazon and then I added a package of sazon with saffron adding to the sazon. Plus it called for the chicken to come off the heat when you cook down the rice and the peppers then coat the rice. I left the chicken in the pot but it was still amazingly, don't-need-a-knife, tender. I cut down on the chicken because I didn't have 3 1/2 pounds on hand and I'd be eating the stuff forever if I did.

Yield was dinner for me plus two lunches or dinners for the week.

I used this recipe minus the pimentos, peas, and alcaparrado. This is totally tasty and there is no heat that us gringos fear with anything that comes from south of Oklahoma.

April 6 -- Shrimp Creole

I've been to New Orleans twice and it's a stop when I do my summer eating tour. I tell everyone to try Mother's Restaurant, the Ferdi with ham, roast beef, and "debris". The Ferdi was my first meal on my last visit, lunch after the flight. It may be my favorite sandwich in America, up there with Tony Luke's Roast Pork and Mother's shrimp po' boy (a pound of shrimp on a roll)! I will keep thinking great sandwiches and miss the point -- shrimp creole.

We were talking at lunch about stuff we haven't had in a while and Ginger, my co-worker, said she hadn't had shrimp creole in a long time. I hadn't had shrimp creole ever but I was willing to try. I told her I was doing lunch on Monday. She asked if she'd have to make the rice. I even provided the rice.

It was my first time making the Cajun trinity, onion, pepper, and celery sauteed in butter until soft. With the garlic powder it made the most amazing smell that lingered in my small one bedroom apartment into Tuesday morning. After the trinity is soft, add two cans of tomatoes, I used a large can of diced and a smaller can of crushed tomatoes. After throwing that into the pot, I added two bags of shrimp, 1 pound of cooked, frozen jumbo and 3/4 pound of cooked, medium from Aldi. Aldi's tagline should be "good shrimp, cheap."

The creole had to be made weak since Ginger doesn't like spice. I had to mark our bowls for lunch. Hers blank and mine "kicked up" with cayenne and Crystal hot sauce. Either way, it was wonderful and Lent safe. Nobody said depriving yourself of meat has to be a punishment.

This recipe was easier than I thought. Here's Emeril's recipe.

Midweek in March -- The Cuban

So I cheated on this one, I can get it here. I had my first Cuban pork sandwich last year at Nationals Stadium in Washington. They have a shop that sells different signature dishes from around the league, the Philly Cheesesteak, Milwaukee Bratwurst, and the like. For Miami they had the Cuban, I was in love. For a local Cuban, try Monty's in Southampton.

I used Dattilo's up the corner for most of my ingredients. They have roast pork (1/2 pound) and roast ham (1/2 pound) done on site. They also have the imported Swiss, the rolls, and pickles in a barrel. I think they even have yellow mustard.

Slice your rolls and layer pork, Swiss, ham, thinly sliced pickle longways, and a little mustard. Grill it like a grilled cheese then lay a hot pan on top of the sandwich and press it so it's 1/3 of the size of when you started. Let the bread get a little brown and crispy. This made enough for two full sandwiches and one went to work. It was fine cold for lunch the next day.

March 23 -- Cottage Pie

A classic comfort food of my youth is American shepherd's pie. In the rest of the English speaking world, it's cottage pie. I made it easy, Bob Evans mashed potatoes on top. I am not mashing potatoes. I know it's not the same as Mom used to make but Mom doesn't live close enough to make me a pile of cottage pie.

One large casserole made plenty, dinner for two nights and three containers for dinner later.

Here is the recipe but I cheated on the potatoes:

In the beginning...

So about a month ago I started really cooking. Over the past 8 years, I've learned to cook things. I can make a pretty mean no-bake noodle lasagna or tuna casserole but this new weekly cooking would take me out of my comfort zone into flavors I've never had and ingredients never used.

The inspiration is my grandfather, now long deceased. He was a house husband because he got sick when he was 28 and was unable to work. He cooked and did chores while my grandmother worked at a sugar factory. As a kid, it was Saturday afternoon dinners that he'd cook. I don't know what his secrets were. I don't know if he cooked from scratch but the man could cook the lights out, chicken soup with dumplings, British style sweet sausage and mashed potatoes, stuffed skirt steak (kind of like braciola but looser), halupki, were all on the menu at one time or another.

My goal is one new dish a week, usually cooked on Sunday when the laundry is being done. The only rules are I have to like it, I am not cooking for show, and I can't get it here at one of my regular restaurants.

Tonight I'll deal with a few things I've made recently then hopefully move on to a more regular mostly-once-a-week schedule.