Ordinary cooking!

If you are like me, you, and mostly it is the woman—not to negate the men who do so, just go about fixing dinner without thought to innovation and creativity. Those of us who rarely use processed or prepared foods or take out fast-food, there is a general routine and rotation from pantry and freezer staples. What are yours?

In my kitchen pantry I usually have canned tomatoes, several types of canned beans, sometimes canned fruit, pasta of a variety of shapes, rice and grains, vinegar, oils, etc. in the freezer there is a variety of meats (fish filet, chicken breasts and thighs, small pork roast, the occasional rack of ribs, and burger patties) along with the various packages of frozen vegetables. Sometimes there are pie crusts or pie dough, frozen pirogi or ravioli, and the occasional pizza. We like the cheap but tasty pizzas available at the Aldi discount grocery store. Actually in my freezer I still have some venison sausage from the deer my son-in-law shot earlier this year. Breakfast strata anyone?

I don’t know how some of you are so creative all the time. I get tired, tired, tired! So I just make things up to cook, or to liven up the ordinary food. So browsing on Facebook I saw one of those videos on quickly preparing ginger chicken. I rarely pay attention to all the ingredients or the amounts or the directions.

So I try it on fish. Why not?

There is garlic (yes, I bought the jarred kind. My fresh garlic kind of got old and decrepit on me), fresh ginger root (this keeps in the freezer for millennia), soy sauce, and mixed vegetables on the side. I minced a nub of ginger root, added a pinch of garlic, and dumped that in the ramekin with some soy sauce. Trust me, I used those “exact” amounts! ūüôā I baked the four fish filet and brushed on the juice toward the end of the baking time. It smelled very good. I may have added a squeeze of honey as well.

So then I tried it on chicken…two chicken breasts, one onion, peas and carrots, and quick cooking mixed grains (from Aldi). This worked out well too.

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Directions: dice chicken and cook through in a bit of olive oil. Mince the ginger root, bit of garlic, add soy sauce, a bit of honey, and add to the skillet with the chicken. The amounts depend on your taste. Separately I saute the onion in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then add the peas and carrots. Remove to a bowl. Cook the grains as per the package. I had planned to have a “rice pilaf” type dish as a side, but at the last minute dumped the almost cooked grains and the peas and carrots into the big skillet with the chicken. This I covered and let simmer a bit more until Hubby came home and dinner was served.

 

So I made Barbecue Chicken Pizza!

As I had mentioned previously I was thinking of making a pizza in my cast iron skillet. Well, I made the pizza but not in the cast iron. And I got to use my handy-dandy pie circle gadget that I just bought. Silly item: a bag to roll out pie crust into a perfect circle.

I used my favorite pizza crust recipe. I found this years ago on allrecipes.com.  It is a yeast dough but there is no rising time. It is ready to go as soon as it comes together.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the oil and water. When dough forms spread it on a large pizza pan. Top as desired. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

I had Hubby take the meat off of 4 chicken thighs that had already been barbecued. He also sliced an onion. We made a bit more sauce with ketchup (1/4 cup), sriracha (1/8 cup), and Worcestershire sauce (1/8 cup). I had seen that combination somewhere on line, most likely one of those Facebook food videos. You can use more or less sriracha depending on how hot you like your sauce. I have also substituted apple cider vinegar for the Worcestershire sauce.

Spread the sauce on the dough, scatter the onion and the chicken pieces, top with cheese of your choice. This is one of those Monterrey jack and cheddar blends.

It was a very tasty pizza.

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I like the idea of Mediterranean cooking. I have a variety of cookbooks that are published in the UK. I go through and mark my cookbooks for the recipes I want to try. I know I have done a lemon chicken with garlic before but this is a bit different. The only garlic in this one is the garlic infused chicken broth I used.

I had not been inspired by any recipes in particular lately. We have been eating plain food: cheeseburgers on toast, frozen filet of fish, chicken pot pie, chili, grilled Italian sausages, scrambled eggs. Baking has been put off due to stomach issues and wanting to lose a bit of weight. What am I supposed to do in my kitchen?

So I wanted to put together a nice dinner. And although I had planned to make a shepherd pie I found I did not have ground meat, but did have chicken. So I looked through my Mediterranean cookbook and found this one. The combination of spices sounded so tasty. I really wanted to use the crockpot and not have to do all the cooking when I came home from work. So I got out the crockpot and just threw it all in there. Well, I made the recipe my own. Here is what I did.

  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup garlic-infused chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • a bit of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

I wanted to throw everything in the crockpot and do nothing else. But I decided to briefly saute the onion with the ginger in a bit of olive oil. I then placed this in the bottom of the crockpot. I mixed the dry ingredients together and rubbed this on the chicken before placing them on top of the onion in the pot. I drizzled the honey on top and then added the broth. I set the pot on low and left it from 7:00 AM until 4:00 PM. At four I turned it down to the keep warm setting and added the lemon and olives. We ate dinner at 6:00 PM.

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I served this with a salad and couscous. I skillet toasted some walnuts and added them to the couscous along with a sprinkling of dried parsley and crumbled feta cheese. Dinner was a hit and there are leftovers for tomorrow night’s supper. Yea!

There’s a hole in my kitchen!

 

20170114_205124557_iosYes, there is a hole in my kitchen ceiling this weekend. Hubby put it there. We needed to check the plumbing from our less-than-two-year-old new bathtub. About a month after it was installed water came leaking down through the ceiling. We had the contractor bring his plumber back out but nothing was wrong. The water leak never happened again until this past week. We sort of, maybe, figured out what could have happened so off we go to the local hardware store for a plumber’s wrench. Hubby tightens a connection and we are hoping for the best. We have not tested it yet. Perhaps we should put a hinge on this panel of ceiling for easy access should it happen again?

Meanwhile, what to cook? What to bake? I have not gotten around to anything citrus-y yet even while the grapefruits, oranges, and lemons linger in the bottom of the fridge. But there are two jars of cherries in the pantry. But first…

Friday evening and what to have for dinner? There is an “emergency pizza” in the freezer but that does not appeal. Fish filet from a frozen box and what to serve with? Rice pilaf comes to mind. I go back and forth in my thinking about whether it should be sweet or savory. I pull out a bunch of ingredients:

  • nub of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 smallish carrot, sliced
  • tops of green onions, sliced
  • one clementine
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup banana peppers
  • 1/4 cup diced roasted red peppers, from a jar (not shown here!)
  • coconut oil for sauteing
  • soy sauce for seasoning
  • garlic infused beef broth for seasoning as well
  • brown rice, this is the kind that cooks in 10 minutes in boiling water

I basically just pulled out stuff I thought fit in a pilaf. I had mushrooms but they smelled funny so I did not use them. I must stop buying mushrooms unless I plan to use them right away. This was the second batch that smelled funny and had to be disposed of. Chop and mince and dice every thing to pilaf size. Saute everything while the rice is cooking. Add the raisins and clementine at the end. The amounts of the seasoning ingredients are up to you. The broth kind of brings it all together before adding the rice. It was very yummy!

And now for the weekend dessert. This is a cherry cobbler baked in a cast-iron skillet from America’s Test Kitchen. You can find the recipe¬†here. I promise I followed the recipe exactly. Well except for using a 10 inch skillet instead of 12 inch, having only 5 cups of cherries instead of 6 cups, and not having turbinado sugar. Isn’t it pretty?

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And tasty too! This was simple enough to make. One does cook the cherry juice into a syrup before adding the cherries and biscuit topping. I do not see how this would be any better in a larger skillet. Ten-inch is just the right size. The biscuits come together easily enough with buttermilk and melted butter. Sprinkling the sugar on top before baking gives a nice color and crunch. I used an organic fair-trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color. I will make this again even with fresh or other types of canned fruits. I may reduce the sugar a bit even though it was just 1/2 cup.The only real improvement needed was to have vanilla ice cream for serving.

Have a blessed week!

 

This weekend in my kitchen…

It snowed and snowed. 20 car pile up on a highway near me. Hubby has the electric cord running to the shed to start the snow-blower. It is cold and wintry. The dog romps around the yard to do his business and romps right back up the steps to the back door to come back inside.

To start the weekend we over bought the groceries. This is so easy to do at the discount grocery store. And we waited 30 minutes in the check out line because everyone was stocking up for the impending storm. Do we all forget that we live in New England and in the winter it snows? Heavy at times? With blowing wind? My excuse is that is the day and time that we usually go to the grocer.

I’m trying to get us to eat more fruits and vegetables and Hubby loves his animal protein. And the chicken breasts were $.99 per pound! I’ll be making this blogger’s recipe this week:¬†whatsfordinnermoms¬†slow cooker taco pasta. Sounds yummy!

With the many groceries filling up my pantry and fridge and freezer, I find that I need to use the bag of potatoes that have been languishing in the bottom of the pantry. Shepherd’s Pie for dinner. Now one can make Shepherd’s Pie all kinds of ways. I have never used minced lamb although I understand that is traditional. I use ground turkey. See, I’m trying to be healthy! Never mind that Hubby has put cheese and sour cream in the mashed potatoes!

The mire poix for the Pie is celery, onion, and red peppers (from a jar). I am using a garlic infused beef broth so I do not add any other seasonings. Saute the mire poix and then brown the ground meat. My standard ingredients for cooking include bags of frozen mixed vegetables, frozen chopped spinach, and red pepper flakes. The latter were not added to this dish but could have been. The amount of ingredients is variable depending on the amount of Pie you wish to make. I used 1 pound of ground turkey, 2 cups of mixed vegetables, 1 cup frozen spinach, 1/4 cup red peppers, 2 stalks celery, and half an onion. I add 2 tablespoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup broth and mix that in with the ingredients in the skillet. Put all of this in your baking dish. Make your standard mashed potatoes and pile on top. I baked this in a 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes. This is a 13 inch oval baking dish. This could feed hefty portions to a family of four or decent portions for six. It will feed Hubby and me for two meals and possibly one leftover for lunch for one.

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The beauty of this mixture is its versatility. Bake with biscuits or cornbread batter on top and it becomes Hungry Boy Casserole. Use it to fill pie crusts and it becomes Pot Pie. Add beans and chili powder and tomatoes and it becomes chili. I am certain there are numerous other dishes it could become. I’m thinking one could cook this up in advance and bag it up in freezer bags for “emergency meals” or take camping!

The next project in my kitchen this weekend was not as successful. Somewhere on FB someone posted a gluten free pancake recipe using just bananas, eggs, and cinnamon. I’m thinking pumpkin would be the same as mashed bananas and waffles can be made from pancake batter. So I give it a go. I had to add milk to thin the batter. I oiled my waffle iron and heated it according to manufacturer’s directions. Well, it did not cook up well. I had to peel it off the grid. It did not stick, it was too soft and did not crisp up. So I add 2/3 up flour, a little more milk, a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and heat a pan to make pancakes. These were edible but mushy. I should have just made a normal waffle recipe and added the pumpkin. Live and learn.

I very much enjoy puttering around my kitchen on weekend mornings, and afternoons. I think about what ingredients I have on hand, what recipes I would like to try for both dinners and baking. I have made the seasoning mix for the slow cooker taco recipe that I will put in the crockpot Monday morning. I have several recipes I would like to try over the week and need to put those in order to enhance the possibility of follow through. I get all these great ideas but then when I come home from work during the week my motivation often lags.

What I hope to do: no bake energy bites from the King Arthur Flour website, practice making marshmallow roses to decorate a Christening cake, boil eggs to take for lunches along with salad, cut the cantaloupe so there is fruit to snack on instead of chips, and make something citrus-y out of the grapefruit, oranges, and lemons in my refrigerator.

Wish me luck and have a blessed week!

Dinner in a flash: frozen pirogi

This is one of my favorite dinners to prepare. The ingredients do not have to be measured and you can add or subtract as desired. This dinner starts with a package of frozen pirogi.

Dice one onion and mince 2 garlic cloves. Saute these in a large sauce pan or skillet with a little olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. When the aroma is enticing stir in the frozen pirogi and stir to the bottom of the pan so they will lightly brown. Brown is not an accurate description. They turn golden with a few brown spots. Turn them over from time to time so they color on both sides. Your kitchen will smell wonderful. Add a pinch or two of salt or celery salt if you salt your food. The pirogi package said to saute for about  8 minutes per side but just do them until nicely colored.

Now add 1/2 bag of frozen mixed vegetables. I always have the standard mixed bag with corn, carrots, green beans. I suppose you could be inventive and add other mixes as well. Then add 1 can of stewed tomatoes. The stewed tomatoes I use have seasoning in them. (I did not read the ingredients and there is also sugar and calcium chloride, natural flavors, and salt. But they are $0.59 a can at my discount grocery store.) For more color and vitamins I add about one cup of frozen spinach. Stir this and cover and simmer until the vegetables are cooked. That is, what, 8-10 minutes?

Dinner in a bowl. And filling. This could actually feed 4 people but the two of us eat the whole thing!

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Bah Humbug!

Happy holidays to all! And I celebrate Christmas but you may not. So happy to you what you celebrate. Many people celebrating happiness and family and togetherness.

It’s been awhile. I thought I would make myself write. I have not been in a pleasant mood.

For our pre-thanksgiving feast I made a boxed cake and used tubs of store-bought frosting. Does it matter? I did not even read the ingredients. There could be high fructose corn syrup and unnatural colors and flavors in there! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! I did make the pie crust from scratch and the traditional “Betty Crocker” pumpkin pie. Didn’t buy whipped cream though! I bought a nice little package of pearl onions to make creamed onions but did not do that either. And no homemade rolls. Cinderella was feeling lonely and tired. Everyone enjoyed the meal anyway. We had grilled Ribeyes, baked sweet and russet potatoes, green salad with lime dressing, cornbread (made earlier for lunch with homemade soup which no one ate), layered rainbow sprinkle cake and pumpkin pie. And granddaughter put two candles on the cake, one for her (3) and one for her daddy (33).

So now Hubby is making a Stroganoff with the leftovers from the Rib eye steaks. My idea but he is doing the work. He had the day off; I went to work.

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Mise en place: 

  • leftover ribeye, cut from bone, 8-10 ounces
  • one onion, chopped fine
  • one half green pepper, chopped fine
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, diced
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire, divided
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 package egg noodles, cooked

Melt butter and saute onions until translucent. Add peppers and then mushrooms. Gave it a stir and then threw in the meat. Another stir and then add a dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce. Add the sour cream and yogurt. Mix and add Worcestershire all over low heat. Stir in cooked noodles. Serve in bowls. Enjoy!

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Yummy dinner and all I had to do was type the instructions.

Note to cook: take a healthy sip of wine between each ingredient!

Also Hubby says  to add fresh snap peas when dish is hot for additional favors. ANd what is weird is that he dreamed all of this last night!