Thursday, July 29, 2010

Super Lunch Salad

It's what we had for lunch today - and I forgot to take a pic, dangit! - and it's super easy and super yummy. In fact, it's just plain Super! ;)

You need (pick one from each category):

Salad greens (most any kind. Lettuces, spinach, mesclun, mixed greens, cabbage, whatever you like)
Some kind of protein, cooked if needed (canned tuna, sliced steak, chicken breast, black beans, boiled eggs, again, whatever you like)
Something 'zingy' (sliced onion, pepper rings, pan-seared corn, pepper jack cheese, etc)
Something 'fruity' (dried cranberries, chopped apple, sliced strawberries, fresh raspberries, mandarin oranges, etc)
Something 'crunchy' (crushed ramen noodles, crushed tortilla chips, peanuts, walnuts, canned fried onion rings, sunflower seeds, etc)
Salad dressing (I think that honey mustard works with just about everything, but Ranch, creamy italian, green goddess, balsamic vinaigrette, lemon-poppyseed and many more work too!)

Layer (bottom up):

We had spinach with red onion, sliced strawberries, pan-seared chicken breast, honey mustard, and peanuts for lunch today and it was awesome! Bill's fave combo is mixed greens, sauteed green peppers, dried cranberries, sliced steak, green goddess, and walnuts. You can go vegi-mexican with beans, fried corn, tomatoes, cheese, tortilla chips and ranch on shredded lettuce. Go asian with mixed cabbages, chicken, raw broccoli, mandarin orange slices, crushed ramen, a few slivered almonds and toasted sesame dressing. The possibilities are endless so gather up and try your fave ingredients in different combinations!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Frittata with bratwurst, onion, tomato, and cheddar
Eggs have been on sale really really cheap lately, so, in my endless quest to use up leftovers, I've been making frittatas. They're super easy, and - as far as I can tell - you can put almost anything in them.

You'll need -

A large oven proof skillet with a lid
A little cooking oil
A big potato (or two smaller ones) shredded
Half an onion, chopped (or other veggie #1)
Half a bell pepper, chopped (or other veggie #2)
Some suitable meat (bacon, ham, sausage, hamburger, chicken, etc) chopped
6 eggs
About a cup of shredded cheese (cheddar, colby jack, provolone, etc)
Something 'garnishy' (like chopped tomatoes, herbs, Parmesan, etc.)

Heat your oven to 375˚F. Heat up your skillet and the oil. Cook the meat. Add the potatoes, spreading fairly evenly. Add other veggies. Let cook, about 5 min, just stirring to combine. After about 5 min, kinda 'flip it' by stirring with a flipping motion to get browned potatoes on top. Stir a bit to even out and let cook another few min. Meanwhile, whisk eggs until well beaten. When meat, potatoes and veggies are nearly done, pour eggs over top, tilting pan or super-gently stirring to get eggs distributed evenly. Top with cheese. Put lid on skillet and put in oven to bake for about 20 min. Garnish and serve!

So far, I haven't found anything that hasn't worked in this and you can customize the meat and veggies however you like. Ground beef, corn and peppers with monterey jack cheese and a little cilantro goes mexican. Chicken, broccoli, onion and mozzarella tastes a bit like alfredo. Italian sausage, peppers, black olives and provolone goes italian! Seriously, try any combo that sounds good to you! :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Basic Broccoli Salad

Broccoli salad with peanuts and cranberries
I LOVE broccoli. It's my favorite vegetable and perhaps my favorite food (closely followed by cheese) and, since I do love the luscious green flower so much, I make this salad fairly often. Like every time broccoli goes on sale. I'll buy two bunches, one for cooking and one for broccoli salad. Yummy, yummy stuff.

You'll need:

About a third to half a package of bacon (but you can use more, or less. Whatever's handy or needs used up)
Mayonnaise or salad dressing (low fat or regular) - I'll explain the amount below
2 T sugar
2 T vinegar* (I use cider vinegar usually since that's what I always have around)
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1 bunch of broccoli (or 2 small ones if they're rubber-banded together) chopped, including tender part of stems
Nuts* (peanuts, cashews, etc) a handful or so
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, whatever you like) a handful or so

Cut your bacon into strips, about 1/4 in wide, ish, and fry them up until nice and brown and 'chewy-crisp'. You can also cook the slices and crumble if you want, but pre-slicing works better for me. Drain on paper towels.

Get a tablespoon from your silverware drawer (not a measuring tablespoon) and put two biggish, heaping spoonfuls of mayo/salad dressing into a med/large bowl. Add sugar and vinegar. Whisk to combine, should be smooth and a bit runny. Add onion, broccoli, nuts, fruit, and bacon. Mix, lifting up from the bottom and flipping (sort of like folding a batter) until sauce is well distributed. Serve immediately or chill an hour or two for additional tanginess!

*You can give this an 'asian flair' with rice wine vinegar, chow-mein noodles, and a dash or two of soy sauce. :) Make it more 'country' by adding sliced hard boiled egg. There are lots of options!

Friday, July 23, 2010

BBQ Ribs

Tonight I'm making ribs. Why? Because they're on sale this week, silly. ;)  Plus the family loves them. Oh yes.

I don't make 'rack ribs' I make 'country style' ribs, which are boneless  hunks of pork (or nearly so, sometimes they have a bit of rib bone on one edge). I know a LOT of people love rack ribs, and that's fine, I just can't see the logic in paying $4 a pound (or more) for something that's mostly bone and very little meat when I can spend less than $2 a pound for the exact opposite. Plus, with rack ribs, the little bits of meat get in my teeth, which I don't like. These you can eat with your fingers, or a knife and fork. Or slice them up and put on a salad. Or whatever.

Anyway, start with the ribs. Since there are 3 of us, I usually get about 6 ribs, not because it'll make two a piece, but because, well, I can cut them roughly in half before cooking and have lots of leftovers! :)

Once I have them separated into portions I like, I put them in a big pot with enough water to cover and set it to boil. They need to boil for about 30 minutes (my mom taught me this trick, and it is optional, honestly, but the ribs will be more tender. As in fall-apart tender. Num num!)

Btw, the water will look really gross and scummy. Don't let that bother you.

Set your oven (yes, I said oven) to 375˚F and line a big cookie sheet with foil. I think these taste better baked, er, roasted. Other's might disagree but these are my ribs. ;) Plus, in the oven, there's no lugging out the charcoal or grilling in a snowstorm. Ovens are always an option. If you'd rather grill, that's totally cool with me. :)

Anyway, once your ribs have boiled for about half an hour, use tongs to remove them from the water and place them on the big, foil-lined cookie sheet so they're not-quite touching. Some touching is okay but they need a little breathing room. Pour a good dollop of your favorite barbeque sauce on each (I'm partial to Kraft Original because that's the one Bill eats up the best, but I've used all kinds) and kinda smear it around with a basting brush or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 15 min, then flip them all over and apply fresh barbeque sauce. Bake 15 min more.

And they're done. And they're awesome. Promise!

I like to serve these with 'something cheesy' (mac and cheese, scalloped potatoes, veggies in cheese sauce, etc) and something green, like green beans, broccoli, or salad. They reheat really well. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Tonight, I think I'm making pierogies for supper, but I'm kinda cheating. I buy them, frozen. from Schwans. Usually I cook up some chopped bacon, sliced onion and either green peppers or mushrooms, then, when the pierogies are done, toss it all together with some cheese, but I'm out of bacon so I'll try them with leftover ham tonight. Pierogies are a bit starchy for a supper, but they always taste good.

I really need to go to the store because I'm running out of fresh things. Hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Skillet Macaroni Supper

Skillet Mac with Ham, Peas, Swiss Cheese, and Mrs Dash
I have to admit that as much as I love to cook, sometimes I'm lazy. Sometimes I'm busy. Heck, sometimes I simply don't want to trash the kitchen by experimenting or creating a million-ingredient extravaganza. Plus I have a family of simple tastes (sigh) so, sometimes, I make super easy tummy filling food, like skillet macaroni, which is adapted (slightly) from Kraft's Everyday Easy Macaroni Dinners.

Btw, I am really bummed that I had to go all the way to Canada to get an official link for that recipe.

Anyway, like Kraft says, it's EASY, and it all happens in a big skillet.

Cook about a cup of whatever meat that you're using in the skillet (chopped to bite-size or smaller). I've used fresh chicken breast, I've used leftover cooked chicken. I've used ham, tuna, ground beef, shrimp, leftover pork, and even sliced hot dogs. Seriously. Anything works. Use a little oil if you need it, skip it if you don't. Salt and pepper to taste, if you normally salt and pepper while cooking meat.

As it cooks, toss in a cup or two of chopped whatever-sounds-good out of the veggie crisper. Fresh corn, sliced carrots, frozen peas, broccoli, mushrooms, whatever veggie makes you smile. You can also used canned (drained) veggies, dibs and dabs of leftovers... This is great for using stuff up. If the veggies are already cooked, add them with the step below. :)

Once the meat's cooked (and the veggies are no longer raw) add 2 cups of water, 2 cups of elbow (or other small) macaroni, a cup of milk, and a tablespoon or so of butter. Get 'er boiling and turn down the heat to a simmer. Stir every min or so to keep the milk from scorching. Cook until pretty much all of the liquid is absorbed and the macaroni is done. It'll take, oh, about 10 - 12 min, or so.

Add about a teaspoon of some savory spice/herb you like (garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, italian seasoning, Mrs. Dash, whatever) and 2 cups of shredded cheese. Again, whatever kind you like, cheddar, swiss, mozarella, colby-jack... Stir in the cheese and spices until it's all well mixed and the cheese is melty, and you're done. I usually serve it with melon (Bill loves melon), salad, and hot bread.

It's yummy, simple, quick, and doesn't trash the kitchen. We almost never have leftovers.

Laura's favorite blend is chicken, canned tomatoes, italian cheese and garlic. Bill seems to like ham, mushrooms, peas, and cheddar (with a little oregano) best. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tambo Fried Rice

Beef Fried Rice
My honey loves fried rice, and it's super easy to make, and super cheap too. :)

Cooked rice - about 3 - 4 cups
Peanut oil (canola works too)
A bit of leftover or fresh meat, chopped (pork, chicken, beef, etc. I've even used bacon)
1 onion, chopped
Minced/pressed garlic (a clove or two)
Other fresh things, chopped - peppers, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, whatever's needing used up.
Frozen mixed veggies (the kind with peas, carrots, corn & beans but if you've already chopped a lot of fresh ones, you can skip the frozen)
1 egg
soy sauce
Stir-fry (brown) sauce - I use House of Tsang Classic Stir Fry Sauce
Lightly salted peanuts or cashews

First, you need the rice. I make brown rice (1-1/2 cups raw brown rice, 3 cups water, and a little peanut oil, takes about 45 min to simmer on the stove), but you can use whatever kind you like.

Once you have your rice... Heat up a big skillet on med/high heat (this goes really fast, maybe 5 min or so). Put in a little peanut oil, and fry the meat. As it cooks, add the onion. Once the onion starts to get translucent, add garlic and other fresh veggies. Keep it all moving. Once the veggies are hot, add frozen veggies, keep stirring and flipping. Once they're steamy, clear out a bit of space in the middle of the skillet. If it's 'dry', add a little more oil there and give it a bit to heat up. Add egg.  Let it cook for a few seconds then start scrambling it in the skillet. Mix with veggies and meat. Soy sauce to taste (about 5 or so big dashes for us). Dump in the rice, and some of the stir fry sauce (a couple tablespoons or so, but I just dump it in). Keep stirring. Should be all brown and sizzly and yummy smelling. Toss in a handful or two of peanuts, and more soy sauce if needed. Stir peanuts in and remove from heat.


Broiled Sammiches

Our local grocery store will sometimes make focaccia bread - not always, dang them! - and when they *do* I try to pick up a loaf to make these sandwiches. We all think they're pretty darn yummy. I've never measured any amounts, so just go with how ever much you like. :)

1 Focaccia Loaf
Ranch dressing (or other creamy salad dressing)
Shaved Ham
Shaved Turkey
Thinly Sliced or Shredded White Cheese (we usually use Mozzarella or an Italian Blend)
Thinly Sliced or Shredded Yellow Cheese (Sharp Cheddar, Colby Jack, etc)
1 Sliced Tomato
1/4 to 1/2 Sliced Red Onion
Shredded Lettuce
Any other sliced sandwich veggies you might like (cucumbers, green peppers, etc)
Italian (or other oily) dressing

Make sure ALL veggies are ready to go before starting because this cooks really fast.

Turn on your broiler and let your oven get nice and hot. Slice the focaccia in half crosswise, creating a top half and a bottom half. Place cut sides up on a heavy cooking sheet or broil pan. Brush with Ranch Dressing. Layer Shaved Ham on one half, Shaved Turkey on the other. Put a handful or two of yellow cheese on the ham side, spreading it out to cover, white cheese on the turkey side. Place in broiler until cheese is melty and bubbly (this only takes a minute or two). Remove from broiler.

Place bottom half on cutting board. Layer with Tomatoes, Lettuce, Onions, etc. Drizzle Italian Dressing over veggies. Put the top half of the bread/meat/cheese on top. Cut into 8 wedges. I usually serve this with potato chips and melon hunks. :)

** I've also made this with pepperonis and mushrooms (I put the mushrooms on the cheese before broiling so they cook a little), and shaved roast beef instead of turkey or ham. It's a great sandwich!**

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flour Tortillas

Tonight I'm making my second attempt at flour tortillas. The first, tried several years ago, weren't worth the work involved, but I'm *trying* to make more ingredients myself if at all possible, so, tonight, I'm on the dough.

I'm using the recipe and method that FoodWishes plugged from Blanca Dîez.

VERY easy and super yummy. I think I'll cut back a little bit on the shortening, though, they seemed a smidge on the greasy side, but not much. Wonderful tortillas!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

No Knead Garlic Cheese Flatbread

I love to bake and when I saw this recipe on the King Arthur flour site, I had to try it. We love focaccia bread, and this seemed like a really similar kinda thing.

I'd had high hopes and as I sit here typing this, I wonder if the problem was with my technique. Maybe I didn't mix it well enough, or something, but it was not the moist, aromatic, flavor explosion I was hoping for, it was dry and just, well, bland. AND it totally stuck in the pan. Bad. It rose well, smelled awesome, but was a taste let-down.

I might try it again - it certainly was easy enough - just plan on kneading it.

Friday, July 9, 2010


We bought some pie cherries at the farmers' market last weekend, and, me being me, decided to try something new. I found this recipe on FoodWishes (one of my fave foodie sites) and it's OMG YUMMY! And easy! And cheap! So what's not to love?

The super cool thing is that you can substitute most any fruit, whatever's in season or on sale, and have a nice, somewhat-fancy yet simple dessert. :) Tonight I'm making it with blueberries! Ought to be awesome. :)

Fruit {cherry) Clafouti (instructions written from Food Wishes video)

1/2 c flour
2/3 c sugar (divided)
1-1/4 c milk
3 eggs
1 tb vanilla
pinch salt
12 oz fresh cherries (or other fresh fruit)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Whisk flour, 1/3 c sugar, salt to distribute. Add milk. Whisk till smooth. Add eggs. Whisk. Add vanilla. Whisk.

Butter 2 qt casserole. Pour in about 1/2 of the custard. Bake 12 min. While baking, pit cherries if desired (or prep other fruit).

Arrange cherries on custard. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 c sugar (I added bit more since I had sour cherries) Spoon/ladle on remaining custard. Bake 45 min. Serve warm.

**added later - Fresh blueberries also rock in this custardy desert!**