Archives for posts with tag: cooking

It’s hard to process just how vast—
the reach…
the amount of ripples
spilling out from this new virus.
The light will come.

Over here, we’ve been under the mandated shelter-in-place for the past few days, only going out for essential grocery shopping. It feels strange—strained, tense, rushed.

On a light note, every morning the doggies see me, they think it’s the weekend and expect treats. I can’t give in because they have to watch their figures (doctor’s orders). They really help keep things going in a positive direction.

I have had time to do a bit of reading, although, I’m finding it hard not to turn the television on to see the latest. I’m taking a break at the moment, a much needed breather. I seem to be washing more dishes. I filed our income tax returns—I’m glad that’s out of the way. I’ll be working two days next week.

I’ve been spending a lot of time flipping through cook books and cooking magazines, looking for some bit of inspiration for dinner ideas, trying to find dinner options that will be friendly for hubby’s sensitive system. I’ve been wanting to prepare some version of a Sheppard’s Pie. Last night for dinner was the day. It was a pleasantly mellow version with a riced cauliflower and cheese topping. The cauliflower and cheese was a nice compliment to the filling.

Hope Everyone out there is staying healthy and positive…good wishes to All. 🙂🌻

Last night I searched the internet for quiche recipes looking for something meatless. I was pleasantly surprised at how this one turned out. I used a pre-made, frozen pie crust. There used to be choices; this time, my only choice was a Marie Callender’s two pack in a tin. Lack of choice, in this case, worked out really well for me.

Before I got started, on went the wireless headphones, and I continued listening to my audio book, which I have been enjoying so much, I cleaned all the dishes (I’ve been bad about this lately), and I cleaned a pile of papers that have been sitting on the floor waiting. I was surprised to see that in the past few days, with cooking and cleaning, I am already halfway through this 11 hour audio.

When I started preparing the meal, I realized that I had forgotten the zucchini. Darn. I didn’t use the tomatoes, added extra mushrooms. Passed on the curry powder and used only cheddar cheese. I added some of the cheddar cheese to the eggs, then added a generous amount to the top before baking. Since I was using two pie plates, I ended up not having enough egg mixture, so I beat 4 more eggs together and added a splash of milk.

I was very happy with the end result. I made a couple of quiches before, but this one had the right amount of egg and milk, so that the custard was not runny.

Tomorrow, hubby and I will find out how the quiche does for lunch leftovers. I’m getting hungry thinking about it and hope it’s just as tasty!

 

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/222641/vegetarian-quiche/

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I feel like I’m getting my cooking groove back. It’s slow, but there is progress. Late this morning I parboiled a large potato, shredded a zucchini, and chopped up some green onion. I cooked this in some oil until the potatoes started to brown, added salt, garlic salt, pepper, a dab of butter, then beat six eggs because that’s what I had left, heated the tortillas and voila.

I love zucchini, yet I wouldn’t have considered preparing it this way if not for my mother-in-law. She said that she read somewhere that Alfred Hitchcock liked shredded zucchini cooked with a little butter–something like that; she thought that sounded good and loves zucchini too, so tried an egg variation. I did a quick search about this tidbit; couldn’t find anything. She would have learned about it long ago. Well, the story and association stuck with me.

Breakfast was simple and delicious.

The great thing about tacos is that the variations are endless.

 I took a break from my audible subscription for a few months, but tonight while I was preparing dinner–a big pot of chicken soup with veggies and rice–I wanted to also be reading a book, so while the chicken was cooking away, I went to the audible website, renewed my subscription, browsed through some possibilities, listened to a few samples, and settled on The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee, narrated by Julia Whelan.

In some ways I ask myself: am I having trouble being in the moment itself, washing and chopping the vegetables, giving the soup a stir, washing dishes. This thought didn’t actually occur to me until dinner was complete–the eating and the cooking part–and I found myself putting fresh sheets on the bed, but first I reached for my wireless headphones, same as when I was cooking, and I returned to the story while I did this task.

Even though I had the story on, I felt as though I was able to be more thoughtful with making up the bed. I wasn’t rushing. I patiently pulled the duvet cover down over the down comforter, having to go back and forth to each side of the bed, pulling down, down, down, until it was snuggled inside. Then I fastened the ends. It felt like I was very present in the moment, with the story in the background–a story that ties into my dinner preparations and involves a woman with the sense of knowing that is expressed through her food.

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I love the colors of the M&Ms in this banana bread.

I thought I’d start this post with dessert. I didn’t take a picture when the bread was done, so while I was at work snacking, I snapped a photo before it was all gone. This recipe was really good. I followed it exactly, except I used creamy peanut butter instead of chunky because it’s what I had on hand.

This all came about because there were were two almost black bananas aching to be turned into something sweet and delicious. On our walk, Hubby kept asking me where I hid his bag of M&Ms, but I wouldn’t tell. Then a lightbulb went off, and he also made the suggestion when I said I was thinking of making banana bread. I didn’t tell him what I had in mind. I wanted to surprise him. I searched online for a recipe for banana bread with M&Ms and came across this one. It’s a keeper and I can’t wait to make it again.

http://myyellowfarmhouse.com/2014/04/11/not-your-grandmothers-banana-bread-with-mms-nuts-a-smidge-of-peanut-butter/

Sunday started off to be a good cooking week. I may have felt inspiration from the jambalaya and fried fish that my mother-in-law cooked during the week and invited us over to enjoy. She asked if we wanted refried or regular beans with our meal. We opted for refried. It was, as she said, a sinful meal, and we may as well go all the way. Almost everything was fried or had large amounts of delicious fat!

I had not planned to spend as much time in the kitchen on Sunday as I did. I thought I’d get in and out. I knew that I wanted to prepare posole, a Mexican stew that I grew up eating at my grandmother’s home. I searched the internet for recipes and found a variation by Rachel Ray that sounded promising. I’m used to eating red posole, but I went with a green this time.

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I was specifically looking for a recipe that used pork tenderloin for a healthier version. I was happy to find Rachel Ray’s recipe. I also looked at a red recipe. I ended up using most of the ingredients in Ray’s recipe. But not the honey, and I only used two cans of chicken stock and enough water to my tastes. I used the 4 poblano chiles, which I blackened on the stovetop. I also used about 3/4 cup of chiles Japones (Japanese chiles). They are small red chiles and added some heat. I followed the preparation of the red chiles from the second recipe and set the sauce aside to add to the mix when I got everything in the pot.  I also decided to make the green chile separately rather than cooking everything in the pot, then pureeing part of it. I didn’t strain. I cut the husked tomatillos into quarters and put them into enough water to barely cover them and simmered them for a bit, these went into the blender with their water and the poblano chiles, garlic, and salt. I set this aside, along with the red chile, until I had cooked the pork and veggies and then brought everything together into the pot to simmer. I didn’t do the nacho surprise…maybe next time if I need a change.

We topped our stew with shredded cabbage and lime juice. We also had an avocado on the side. This was a delicious posole that I will definitely add to my repertoire of recipes. There was enough flavor from the chiles and other ingredients without needing those extra cans of stock; and the heat was great.

That was Sunday. The momentum continues!

And I might add to the quote and say that, “All true love is grounded in esteem and good food.”

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http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/pork-tenderloin-posole-with-bottom-of-the-bowl-nacho-surprise-recipe.html

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/posole-rojo-recipe.html



Most of my free time has been spent on reading school material. This has been a busy quarter, busier than most. I’m enjoying both of my classes very much. Going to my Wednesday night class is actually something I look forward to. Usually, I would prefer an online class when available, but in this case that wasn’t an option. My work days are longer and I have to work partial Saturdays since we’re at the height of busy season; and I don’t mind that either. 

The other day, I was surprised that when I got home after a long day, I had just enough time–to eat a quick dinner–and head into study mode to complete work on a paper that was due by midnight. I submitted it with five minutes to spare. I was surprised that I actually finished the paper. I had been working on it in bite sizes throughout the week and here I was needed to get to the minimum page count, somewhat exhausted, trying to pull it all together. I didn’t have time to give it a good once over, but I think it was good enough.

I haven’t been cooking much at all, being careful to make the best use of my time, picking up healthy dinners on those nights. Last night, hubby and I agreed to take care of ourselves for dinner because of timing. I didn’t feel like picking something up to take home, so I was thinking about what little I knew there was in the refrigerator, and started to crave an omelet. Now, this is somewhat peculiar because I don’t even like omelets! I never order them out, and as much as I love eggs, it’s just not something I normally eat. I do like egg scrambles, though I don’t like them with cheese, but I love cheese, so I see that I’m one of those people that don’t like certain food items mixed together.

So, I head home from a long day, knowing that I will continue for a few focused hours on Saturday, which is here–Hello Saturday! I get right to work in the kitchen, cooking myself dinner, not worrying about how long it’s going to take me, but going at a nice slow to medium pace. I have a couple of potatoes that never made it into a chicken soup that I made, so I get those peeled and chopped. I also chop a handful of onions. I get the pan going with oil–as it turns out, I may have added a tad too much oil, but the potatoes tasted great when they were done. 

I had a zucchini that I didn’t want to go to waste, so I sliced that. I was going to add it to the potatoes, then I thought better not too. I may have ended up with a not so nice combination of textures. I heated up another pan, added olive oil instead of canola oil this time. I sautéed those little buggers. I washed and sliced up the mushrooms, sautéed them in the zucchini pan, took out a piece of Monterey Jack Cheese and shaved off a small amount. I then pulled another pan for the omelet…by the time I went through all of this, using more pans than I had intended and taking more time than I thought, my craving for a mushroom omelet with toast on the side, turned into a bigger production than I had planned. 

I had my iTunes radio playing on the Merengue station, so I was dancing and cooking. It was a nice way to end the day. When I looked at the clock, it was close to 9:30 p.m. I never eat dinner that late. Luckily I had an apple before I left work, and I nibbled on the zucchini when they were done cooking and tested the potatoes twice.  

**

Yesterday before I left the house, I looked all around, up at the sky, and the trees–it was a gorgeous day already, mild and bright with sunshine. I heard a little bird. I looked up and around for it and there it was perched on the wire. It was a cute little yellow guy. I don’t know it’s true name. I took a few photos while he stayed there, then he flew away. That was how my day began and it was wonderful. It filled me with such a warm feeling. I love those little beauties. And lately it’s been nice hearing the morning doves’s cooing when I’m going through my morning ritual. 



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Tuesday night we had tostadas from the leftover chickens that I roasted on Sunday.

I’ve tried to be better about planning dinners for the week and doing all of the shopping on Sundays, whereas before I had been planning day by day.

I had seen a cookbook in the new section at the library: Eat & Make: Charming Recipes and Kitchen Crafts You will Love by Paul Lowe aka Sweet Paul. I flipped through it and my eyes landed on a picture of a Nutty Berry Crumble. It was done. I would check the book out. A berry crumble or crisp of some sort was added to the week’s meal plan.

I love taking pictures, and I’ve really enjoyed taking pictures of the food I work with and prepare. Fresh fruits and vegetables are heaven to my eyes.

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The tostadas were very simple as you can see. I was trying to work with what I had left because I hadn’t intentionally worked them into my plan. I chopped up the remaining chicken, added one potato, a small can of olives, a can of El Pato brand tomato sauce with spices, and enough water to cover the potatoes. I let everything simmer down, stirring occasionally until the potatoes were tender. We topped our tostadas with Monterey Jack cheese, had a half avocado on the side and called it dinner.

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After dinner, I set to work on the mixed berry crumble. I also had my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook propped open to the berry crisp recipe. I decided to use the measurements in the Sweet Paul recipe which called for 3 cups of mixed berries, about one small container each and a 1/2 cup of mixed nuts. For the berries I used raspberry, blackberry, and blueberries just as he did. For the nuts I used walnuts and pecans. I also added oats to the crumble because I like the added texture and taste.

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We served the crumble with a small dab of vanilla ice cream. It was divine. I’m not a fruit person, but I love berry and apple crisps and crumbles.

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Delish!

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Two of my favorite recipes to prepare are from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook: Black Bean Chilaquile and Blender Hot Sauce. I love the colorful freshness of the casserole, and it’s nice to eat a vegetarian meal and not get any complaints or questions about where the meat is–It’s so delicious that hubby doesn’t even notice that it’s meatless.

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The recipe for the Black Bean Chilaquile calls for layering the salsa into the casserole before going into the oven. I prefer to layer it without the salsa and spoon the salsa over the individual servings. We always have leftovers and it prevents the dish from becoming too soggy. I use regular cheese rather than low-fat. I also blanch the spinach first, set that aside, then after a quick rinse and dry, use the same pan for sautéing the onions and warming the other ingredients.

For the Blender Hot Sauce, depending on my mood, I will either include all three spices or only a little bit of oregano. I like the freshness of the salsa and I tend to not want to overpower that with too much spice. Since I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, I add a bit of water to get the blender in motion. It’s fun to watch the blended vegetables transform into what will become a nice salsa. The salsa does become smooth, but slightly thick. In between stirrings, I also skim off the excess foam until it eventually disappears allowing the sauce to shine through. The light tomato red that will simmer for 30 minutes becomes a burnished red that brightens up the casserole.

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As the salsa is simmering, I begin working on the casserole.

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I tend to forget, and think that this will be a quick meal to prepare, thinking I can have the whole meal done in 30 minutes flat, but it takes a little time with making the fresh salsa.

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40 minutes later, dinner is served. Delicious!

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I was really glad to find these recipes on the web at different spots, so that I could share:

Recipe for Black Bean Chilaquile
http://www.recipesource.com/fgv/beans-grains/02/rec0269.html

Recipe for Black Bean Chilaquile and Blender Hot Sauce
http://www.eatmedelicious.com/2008/11/black-bean-chilaquile.html

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Yesterday I prepared one of my favorite chicken recipes that I found on the internet some time ago. I also prepared it for my mother-in-law on her birthday. And she didn’t make a comment about it needing salt, which was a relief. The flavor was there in this simple and delicious oven barbecued chicken recipe.

I paired the chicken with oven baked yams and a macaroni salad that I through together with leftover pasta that I I had used to make oven macaroni and cheese on Sunday night…yum! I knew that I didn’t need the full pound, so I set some aside with the intention of making the mac salad. I added red bell pepper, black olives, green onions, celery, dijon mustard, olive oil, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic salt with parsley, and dinner was served.

I had an appointment later that evening with a school counselor to ask some questions about the certificates in accounting and to see where I’m at. In a way, the appointment was a waste of time. I think I already knew where I was at. But, it’s part of the process. I think next time I have a visit, it will be more helpful because I may be closer to my goal, unless I begin to waver again. Time is not on my side. Many of the classes that I took so long ago, no longer count because in order to obtain the certificate, in my case, in accounting, the courses need to be completed within 7 years of the date of the certificate; 10 years for a business certificate. I don’t know that this little piece of paper will help me down the road, but I thought if I had the classes already, I might as well. I waited too long, mainly because I’ve had a love/hate relationship with accounting for as long as I remember. And that’s why I’m asking myself, do I really want to petition to retake accounting principles because I got a C in the class I took way back when. I know there’s something inside of me that feels the need to go through a semester length course and to possibly pick up the certificate along the way. I also figure I may as well still aim for obtaining my A.A. except that for the area of emphasis, the time rules still apply.

I think I need to do this, so that I know that I at least followed through and completed something…but part of me, thinks is it really necessary. It’s an inner battle that I’ve been going back and forth with forever. And even though community college is a lot less expensive, it still puts a dent in the budget. The good thing is that there is no time limit on general education requirements. Back to the drawing board to see what I really want to do and if getting the piece of paper that is of little value in the real world is worth it, and to make sure I’m not fooling myself into completing something that I really have no interest in completing.

All that I could think about on the way home was the two ripe bananas that I’ve been waiting to be just right, so that I could make banana muffins. I found a recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites recipe book. I didn’t need the recipe to be that low-fat, so I added two full eggs instead of one egg and one egg white. The recipe also called for 1 cup of rolled oats blended just until they were the consistency of corn meal–a nice healthy touch in addition to one cup of white flour. There was 1/4 of brown sugar, 1/2 t. of baking soda, 1 t. of baking powered, cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, 2 T. of vegetable oil, 2 ripe bananas mashed, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, and instead of the 1/2 cup raisins, I added 3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips because I had some leftover and I thought it would be a nice addition. 400 degrees for 25 minutes and the house was smelling of banana and chocolate goodness!

I’ve never really been a muffin person, and I’ve had this cookbook for years and have only made a handful of recipes out of it, which were all good. And I have to be honest, I usually steer clear from a muffin with chocolate in it, but I think what did me in was when we stayed at a place in Carmel that brought muffins and juice to our door in the morning and I bit into a muffin with chocolate in it and I thought, this is actually pretty good. I guess that stuck in my head; ironically, hubby didn’t like the muffins and he loves chocolate.

I do know that the ripe bananas were my inspiration. I saw two sitting there on the counter, as I’ve seen before, only this time, I wanted to make them into something, rather than send them away. That’s when I looked in this particular cookbook hoping for a recipe because that other low-fat recipe book with the blueberry scones, it’s going back to the library!

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/oven-barbecued-chicken

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One of the cookbooks that I took home from the library was Aaron Sanchez’s Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours. This is a beautiful cookbook with heart. I love the photographs of the ingredients and the finished meals. My mouth waters when I flip through the pages and makes me want to put the book down, get to the grocery store and get cooking! The conversational tone of the book makes me feel like I’ve Aaron there by my side as I read and set out to try his recipes.

I’ve been on the lookout for an empanada recipe ever since I had them at the food trucks and I have a regular turnover recipe, but I knew I was looking for something different; I just wasn’t sure what until I found Aaron’s recipe. It’s simple, delicious, and the addition of masa harina (corn masa flour) makes all the difference. Subtle, but noticeable.

For the filling, I made a modified version of Aaron’s recipe.

The fillings are endless, from savory to sweet. It’s all up to the cooks moods and imagination.

**

Pocket-filled delight,
a mixture of ground beef,
potatoes, onions, salt, pepper,
oregano, and El Pato brand Salsa de Tomate con Jalapeno.
Sizzling, spicy goodness.

Baked, not fried.
Aaron Sanchez’s
empanada dough recipe–
my first and my favorite,
made wtih masa harina (corn masa flour)
and regular flour.

I take my first bite–
deliciousness and
comfort wrapped
inside
out.