Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Homefries in a hurry

Easy, really. Cut up a potato into small chunks. I used a small red potato, but I’ll probably do it again with a Yukon gold. Microwave for a minute, stir, microwave another minute. The potato chunks tend to stick together, which is why it’s good to stir/break apart halfway through. Maybe lightly coat them with oil before hand?

Heat a pan (I used non-stick) to medium high. Add a tablespoon of oil. Add the potato chunks, cook until as brown as you like, stir to prevent clumping. I was happy with them after 5 or 6 minutes, but that’s me. If you want a bigger potato, or more potatoes, just increase cooking time. I think it probably works best, though, if you do one potato at a time.

Dang, this could be more dangerous than the microwave brownies!

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Quick lazy soup

Looking in the fridge, I saw I had a tomato that was likely to go bad soon and a half-can of red kidney beans. So I figured, “Hey, soup!”. Well, my first thought was chili. But I had a couple of 24 oz cans of spaghetti sauce I’d got for 50 cents each (dented, but still fine), and a box of Wolfgang Puck brand beef broth that I’d got for a dollar. See NOTE below for more info.

Anyway, I used pasta fagioli as an inspiration, but used rice. All simple stuff I had around the house. Frankly, the results turned out better than I expected. I always like pleasant surprises like that.

So, the recipe, such as it is.

  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder (see NOTE)
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • small onion
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 can kidney beans
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Italian seasoning blend
  • dried basil
  • garlic powder
  1. Add salt and pepper and garlic powder to water. Add rice and cook it. Go traditional (2 parts water to 1 part rice, boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes) or how I did it (8 parts water to 1 part rice, boil in microwave for 10 minutes, check that there’s still enough water, microwave for 10 minutes more) (the rice can be a bit gummy in the microwave version, but that’s fine for soup).
  2. Dice the onion and saute (I tossed the pieces in some oil and microwaved for 2-1/2 minutes).
  3. Dice the tomato.
  4. The advantage of the microwave version: If you use a very large container to cook the rice, you can dump all the other ingredients in with it after the rice is done. Which is what I did.
  5. Seasonings: To taste. Call it a couple teaspoons of the herbs, and a few shakes of salt and pepper and garlic powder.
  6. Microwave for 3 minutes, stir, microwave for 3-5 minutes more.
  7. Eat and be full.

I used the small bowl above, for portion control. One of those, and I was comfortably full. But that was a few hours ago, so I think I’ll go back for more. Plus I wanted to let it cool some before portioning it out and putting in the fridge.

Which is one of my problems, so word to the wise. If you cook a large amount of food, divide it into portions as soon as possible, to keep you from eating the whole dam pot/plate/whatever.

NOTE: Btw, if you have a dent-and-bent store in your area, it’s a godsend for food budgets. Or the near-out-of-date rack at your grocery store. Use judgement, but a lot of the stuff is perfectly fine, even though it doesn’t look pretty. The spaghetti sauce and beef broth I got at the Family Dollar, which is rather ironic.

NOTE: Got the garlic powder at what used to be Mother Earth’s, but is now Earth Origins. I’m not into the “organic” stuff, mostly since it’s frightfully more expensive. Plus you can get a lot of the veggies cheaper at your local farmers market. But for bulk spices, you can’t beat it. I love thyme, for example, but it’s 3 to 4 dollars a bottle in the store. So are most herbs. But at Earth Origins, I can get enough to fill a bottle for 50 cents, or less. And it’s fresher. Or I can buy half a bottle’s worth, which means it’s that much fresher.

You should clean out your herbs and spices at least once a year if they’ve not been used. But if you get them from your whole foods store, you can get just what you need (or a bit more), and replenish as you like. Thus, no stale herbs. And honestly, herbs and spices are a terrificly inexpensive way to add flavor to your food. Just because you may have to eat cheaply doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Peasants across the world have been doing so for centuries.

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Simple sandwich

I’m working on some future travel posts. I wanted something to knosh on, but didn’t want to take the time to cook something. But I didn’t want to just microwave a can of soup; I felt like making something.

So I looked in the fridge, and decided to make a quick sammie. I sliced up part of a tomato and put it on bread, spread on some hummus (which doesn’t spread as easy as peanut butter), and that’s it. Yep, a hummus and tomoto sandwich. Actually pretty good. I’ll have to remember for future occasions.

Btw, does hummus ever go bad? The package I have is months old, maybe over a year. No mold, no bad taste, nothing. I like food that doesn’t spoil, as I too often have to throw out stuff that gets unpleasant. Hmm.

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It’s funny, I’ve been doing this blog for a while and not gotten much notice, far as I can tell. Then on a lark I do a post about a recipe with pictures. Hey presto, attention! So lemme continue on with that and do and even more painfully detailed recipe.

I started the corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot some time ago, so whilst that’s doing it’s thing, I’ll give you the story so far. Actually there’s no cabbage, because there wasn’t room. I can hear Mom in my head telling me I went overboard again. With love, though. And yeah, I did. I’m going to check every hour or so, and maybe if it cooks down enough I can add the cabbage. Or I can do it separately, which mightn’t be a bad idea, as it’ll retain more texture that way.

So, the recipe I started with was this one. But I did some fiddling as usual. And since I figured out how the slideshow works, I’m using that instead of pictures at each stage. Hope that works for y’all. 🙂

My crockpot corned beef and cabbage

• 3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
• 1 roughly cut leek
• 1 lb roughly cut carrot
• 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 4 cloves of garlic

• salt (or salt substitute if on low sodium regimen)
• pepper
• dried garlic flakes
• parsley
• thyme
• pickling spice
• 1 bay leaf
• cardamom (eighth to quarter of a teaspoon)

• 2 chicken bouillon packets

• 3-4 lbs corned beef brisket, with pickling spice
• 4 strips of bacon, cut in half across

• 1 pint of beer
• Some shakes of Worcestershire sauce

• 1 small cabbage, cut in wedges (optional)

Cut up the onions, leeks, carrots, potatoes and garlic. Put in the crockpot and mix them up a bit so they’re distributed.

Add spices. I used dried. If you want to use fresh parsley, rough chop and throw in. And for thyme, I’d just throw in a couple of sprigs/stems whole, then fish them out before eating. I didn’t have bay leaf handy, so didn’t add it. Several recipes I’ve seen, though, recommend it. The cardamom was a whim, since pickling spice has coriander and ginger and allspice and other sweet spices, and I thought I’d give it a go.

I had a couple of low sodium packets, so I added them. Not necessary, though.

Maybe I should have trimmed off the excess fat from brisket, but I figured I could skim it off later. Fat is flavor, after all. But if you want to remove it beforehand, be my guest.

Take the pickling spice packet that comes with the corned beef and throw the contents into the crockpot. Then put the brisket on top of the vegetables. Put the bacon strips across the brisket. Only added the bacon ’cause I’d opened the packet a while back, and had the four strips left. Decided to use it now, because otherwise I’d likely forget and they might go bad.

Pour the beer over the whole lot. Add water to cover. If you want to use broth instead, that’s fine.

Because I went crazy with the vegetables, the liquid doesn’t completely cover the brisket. I’m hoping it’ll be OK. Maybe I’ll flip it over in a while.

As far as the vegetables, you might want to use half as much. The original recipe called for about a cup of each vegetable, and I added more like a pound each. But I like to fill up the crockpot, and get as many meals out of it in each go. Change it around if you like. I’ve seen recipes that have turnips or rutabagas. I’m not fond of them, but if you are, one or two would probably work instead of, say, carrots.

As I mentioned before, and you can see from the pictures, I couldn’t fit the cabbage. It’s a pain to cut, even with the big knife. But I have a big head of it, and it’ll get used one way or another.

I put the crockpot on high, and will check it after about 4 to 5 hours. If you use the low setting, double the cooking time.

I’ll inform you of the results when the polls close. 🙂

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Today The Chew…

Today The Chew’s theme was the Sides of March, where they made their favorite side dishes. So while I was watching the DVRed show, I did my own. Side, that is. I microwaved half a cup of rice with 2 cups of water. Yeah, I like to put in extra to counteract excessive boiloff. Threw in some salt and pepper and dried garlic flakes and some squirts of Worcestershire sauce. The rice was a mix of white and brown, mostly white. I nuked it for 20 minutes, but at 17 and a half minutes, I threw in about a cup of broccoli. The end results were quite satisfying. Especially after I added some Velveeta (a few tablespoons worth) and some shakes of Parmesan (yes, Mario, it’s the indisputed king of cheeses). I was going to add more vegetables, but having it be simply cheesy broccoli and rice was nice. I can always vary it in future.

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There was a sale a few weeks back at Publix for Orville Redenbacher popcorn, buy-one-get-one-free. I availed myself of it since (a) I like popcorn and (b) it’s a cheap snack anyway, and at the price I couldn’t pass it up.

I normally make it on the stove top. Sometimes in a regular pot, but more often in my big non-stick pan, since it has a glass lid and I can watch the popping. But I’ve done microwave bags of popcorn and figured, “Why not this?” It’d be faster, and maybe use less energy than the stovetop.

So I looked around online and found this recipe. Great! But I didn’t want to buy paper bags, and the staples concerned me, even though they say it’s not a problem. So I hunted around more and discovered folks who used microwave-safe containers.

So I got out one of the decent sized (2 quarts?) Corningware containers (thanks Mom) and tried that. My first attempt met with mixed success. It worked, but getting most of the kernels popped made the already popped ones get burned. I’ve tried it a few times since, and got it to a point where it seems to work well.

Use a teaspoon or so of oil (I think non-olive oil works better) in a microwave safe container. You might want to spray cooking spray on the sides, to make later cleanup easier.

It says to add some salt and spices to the oil, but haven’t noticed a discernable difference in taste. I still add them, just in case. But I augment that, more on that later.

Add the popcorn, about a quarter cup. Doesn’t seem like much, but you’ll be surprised at the yield. And hey, you’re doing it in the microwave, so it’s a snap to make more.

After about two to three minutes (depending on your microwave), scoop out what’s popped into a big bowl. I use my hands, but then, I’m crazy. You probably want a slotted spoon or something similar.

Pop what’s left for another couple of minutes and scoop that out. You can continue doing this until all the kernels are popped, or stop whenever you’re happy with what you’ve got.

Back to the spices. Over the years, I’ve come up with an olive oil/margarine blend, with sometimes butter. First I add the oil. Then some garlic (fresh or powdered or from a jar) and other spices. Favorites for me are basil or an italian herb blend, and sometimes paprika.

Then add the margarine and/or butter. There should be about 3 tablespoon’s worth total. You should fiddle with it until you get the amount that you like. Cover and microwave until the solids melt and bubble a bit. With the amount I use, that’s less than 20 seconds. Maybe do it longer to get the flavors to come out more. If so, use a larger bowl, since doing it longer than 20 seconds causes the liquid to boil over the edges. You might want to nuke the herb oil mixture before doing the popcorn, to let the flavors infuse more into the oil.

Pour the seasoned stuff over the popcorn, sprinkle with as much salt as you want, and voila. If on hand, I’ll add parmesan cheese as well.

Experiment and find what’s best for you. That’s the great thing about popcorn. It’s so cheap, and the amount of oil/margarine/butter you need is so small, you can play to your heart’s content until you get it the way you prefer.

Cleanup isn’t too bad. Let the container soak in soapy hot water for a while, and you should be fine. Enjoy!

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The crockpot

I’ve been cooking in the crockpot a lot lately. As in, I’ve made three things in it this month, which is about as much as I use it in a year. It’s nice to make a big pot o’ stuff and then divvy it up for multiple future meals. Cheaper too, in the long run. Also makes the house smell real good for a while.

Thickened pea soup

Pea soup, after dilution and re-heat

The first thing I made was split pea soup. Strangely, it came out rather sweet, even though I used a pound of salt pork. Maybe ’cause I sauteed the onions a while so they got good and caramelized. I actually had to add salt to make it more split pea soup-ey. It turned out well, though, and I still have a couple of servings left.

Fish and veggie soup

Next I made a fish and veg soup, so I’d have something nice to eat for Fridays during Lent. It’s a Mom thing. I moved in with her in 2006 and though neither of us had gone to church in ages, she still honored the “no meat on Fridays” during Lent. Honestly, it wasn’t a big inconvenience, since we both cooked, and made some nice alternatives. And it’s said you should eat less red meat and more fish anyway, so it was all good. Now that Mom’s gone, it’s a nice way to remember her.

The soup? Well, it’s really more of a veg soup. I found some catfish and scallops in the freezer, and threw them in just to use them. I used a box of veg broth and a box of seafood broth, and various veggies (potatoes, onions, carrots, celery). A bit of fish sauce too (basically it’s Asian Worcestershire sauce). Various spices. To be honest, it came out rather blah. Sometimes I’m afraid to overseason, and I err too much on the side of caution. But you can always add extra salt later, since it’s much harder to reduce saltiness afterwards. Which I did with this soup, and it did taste much better. With the amount I made, it should definitely last through Lent, and maybe beyond.

Baked bean “soup”

Most recently I used the crockpot to make baked beans. Success: so-so. I think the mistake was using a big can of diced tomatoes. I found a recipe that recommended the addition, but it made the results rather watery, even though I cooked it extra long to reduce the liquid. Which concentrated the seasonings to make them taste not as good as I’d like. Not exactly burnt, but the liquid smoke I added probably is stronger because I cooked it so long. It’s still edible, but it’s more baked bean soup. I’ll know for whenever I make them again. Which I think may be in the next few weeks, since I have a yen to make good homemade baked beans for some unknown reason.

Crockpot, with lid flipped to fit in refrigerator

Trick that Mom taught me. If you don’t feel like dividing up the contents right away, turn the lid upside-down and put it in the fridge. I guess that depends on the shelf spacing in your fridge, but the crockpot fits nicely on the bottom shelf with the lid inverted. It also helps if the contents are low enough so that none of the lid is immersed in it. Not a big deal if you can’t manage that, but it makes it less messy when you get around to portioning out what’s in it later.

The next crockpot use, though, will be corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. It was something Mom made every year. She passed on March 14 of 2010, and I made it right after. I had bought two briskets the year before because they were on sale, so there was still one on hand. The following year, I just didn’t feel like making it. Maybe because I knew we were going to be laid off the following month. Instead, I went to a local Irish Pub for St. Patrick’s Day. It was OK, but the corned beef was kind of fatty. This year, now that I’m gainfully employed again, and in a cooking mood, I’ll be doing it again. This time, though, I think I’ll be tweaking the recipe a bit and add some beer. I’ve been watching cooking shows where beer is being added in recipes, and thought that it would be a good idea for corned beef and cabbage. I looked around and found some recipes that use it, so I had the right idea. I’m thinking a bottle of Guinness or some other stout would work well, something dark and rich. I’ll tell y’all how it turns out in a couple of weeks, after I’ve tasted the results.

By the way, in my search for recipes, I ran across what may be the ultimate site of it’s kind. It’s a blog called A Year of Slow Cooking, which has 365 crockpot recipes. If you’re thinking of using your crockpot, it’s a great place to start.

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