Quote

"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunday Cooking Marathon Recipes

I have been cooking up a storm.

Deciding to make multiple recipes on Sundays has really helped me organize my week.

With this approach most of my dirty dishes can be washed in one day. Then, during the week, I can make a variety of meals using servings from various dishes with less to clean up. It has changed my attitude towards cooking. I feel more creative and positive. I just have to make sure when I choose the recipes for a Sunday, I have all the ingredients.

While most of the recipes I made in this marathon included several of standby recipes like the Universal Casserole, the Skillet Dish, my Imitation Tuna Fish, and Fritters, I did try some new recipes like: Falafel, two bread puddings, one with blueberries, the other with peanut butter, Corn Salsa, Glazed Carrots, Mug of Scrambled Egg with Corn and a Salsa Topping and more.

While most of the recipes came out well, some did not work as hoped.

This Sunday’s Recipes
Imitation Tuna
Falafel
Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

Previous Sunday Recipes
Blueberry Bread Pudding
Fritters: Corn, Carrot, Mamey
Corn Salsa
Skillet Dish - potatoes, carrots and cabbage
Glazed Carrots
Universal Casserole - Corn
Canned Chicken Salad
Sardine Dip
Scrambled Egg with Corn and Salsa
Potato Hash

The Imitation Tuna Fish came out great, I think one reason is I added the juice from a small can of sardines I had frozen and it gave the recipe just the right amount of fish flavor.

Sadly, the Falafel did not work out too well, the first batch of 10 balls came out good but the second batch never browned or cooked thoroughly, it may have been because the oil had collected bits and pieces from the first batch. I froze the second batch. I may try to make Falafel burgers out of the mixture and may need to add additional ingredients.

Oh, and I tried to make a meringue out of the garbanzo bean juice but failed. I don’t have a blender, so I don’t know if that would have helped.

Because the Blueberry Bread Pudding was a bit dry, when I made the Peanut Butter Bread Pudding, I did it a little different, I let the mixture soak in the frig for several hours. This was an experiment and it came out great. Nice appearance, texture, aroma and taste! My only concern is it is probably fattening. 

Also, after the Peanut Butter Bread Pudding cools, the peanut butter gets thick again, so I reheated a serving in the microwave for a minute on high to warm it up and make the peanut butter soft again.

The Fritters were good but because I used a cream corn in the corn fitters they did not cook well, so next time I will use whole kernel corn. Also, I grated 13 baby carrots and only got about 4 Tablespoons of carrot filling. Just something to keep in mind.

I also wanted to avoid food waste. Because I had lots of carrots, I used them in the carrot fritters, Glazed Carrots and added them to the Skillet Dish.

The Corn Salsa was good. I like adding salsas as a kind of condiment.

Ingredients in the Skillet Dish can vary quite a bit. This time, I used basic ingredients: potatoes, carrots and cabbage and it saved a lot of food waste since I had been holding onto those items a bit too long.

Another good thing about the Skillet Dish is once you’ve put the ingredients in the skillet, you let them simmer for about 30-40 minutes which means you can do something else while it cooks.

The Universal Casserole with Corn was good but maybe a little dry.

The simple Glazed Carrots Recipe worked well but probably not as sweet as the original recipe intended.

I am happy to say, I found, with the help of a friend, canned chicken in the local grocery store. It was in with the tuna fish cans.

Here in Merida, there are numerous varieties of canned tuna. But, only one kind of canned chicken (excluding Costco's canned chicken) Ensalada de pollo (chicken salad), the salad is some peas and carrots added to the chicken. I treat it like regular canned chicken and add mayo and diced onion to make Canned Chicken Salad.

I found a recipe for scrambled eggs and corn with a salsa topping. I converted that to Mug of Scrambled Egg with a dollop of corn and milk which I microwaved 1-2 minutes on high or even more if the liquid has not cooked out. Then, I topped one half of a toasted roll with the cooked egg and topped it with salsa and some imitation bacon bits.

Again, to avoid food waste, during the week, I made a Hash using the remains of some of the dishes I had previously made : diced "baked"potatoes, corn salsa, and diced spam.


Blueberry Bread Pudding Recipe
Adapted from: http://www.seasonsandsuppers.ca/peach-bread-pudding-warm-brown-sugar-sauce/?m&m
Makes about 6-8 servings

Next time, add more liquid, let it soak longer

Ingredients:


3 eggs
1 Tbspn sugar
1/2 cup cream or coconut cream or yogurt
2 cups mil
2 tspns vanilla flavoring
6 slices of bread (multigrain), broken into chunks
(Or use french toast)
1 16oz can blueberry pie filling


Process:

Mix eggs, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Stir thoroughly.
Spread bread chunks thickly on bottom of casserole pan.
Spread pie filling over bread chunks.
Pour egg mixture over bread and fruit.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
When ready to cook, sprinkle cinnamon over top of mixture.
Cover dish with plastic wrap.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes.
Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Caution: pull edge of plastic wrap away from you to avoid steam burns.

This came out pretty good. Was surprised could not really taste coconut cream but I think it added texture.

Try with canned peaches, apple slices, cherry pie filling, or chocolate cream or peanut butter.


Peanut Butter Bread Pudding Recipe

Adapted from: my Blueberry Bread Pudding Recipe
Makes about 6-8 servings

Ingredients:


3 eggs
1/2 tbspn sugar
1 cup coconut cream or cream
2 cups milk
2 tspns vanilla flavoring
2/3rds of a 16oz jar of peanut butter
6 slices of bread (multigrain), broken into chunks
Cinnamon

Process:

Mix eggs, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Stir thoroughly and set aside.
Spread the peanut butter on the bottom of the casserole dish.Spread bread chunks thickly over the peanut butter.
Pour egg mixture over bread and peanut butter.
Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of the mixture.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap.Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes.Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Caution: pull edge of plastic wrap away from you to avoid steam burns.


















Corn Salsa Recipe
Perused several Corn Salsa Recipes then made my own.

Ingredients:

1 14oz can kernel corn, drained
1 8oz can salsa, drained
1/4 white onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 Tbspn Basil flakes, crush in palms
Ground back pepper, to taste
1 capful Lemon juice

Process:

Mix all ingredients together.









Glazed Carrots Recipe

Ingredients:

1 16oz bag of baby carrots
1/2 cup water
A dollop of olive oil
1/2 tbspn sugar
S/P to taste

Process:

Add ingredients to a microwave casserole dish with a cover.
Mix well.
Cover and microwave on high for 10 minutes.


Mug of Scrambled Eggs with Corn and a Salsa Topping Recipe
Got the idea from: http://bstrecipes.blogspot.mx/2015/07/squaw-dish-scrambled-eggs-and-corn.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

Ingredients:


1 roll
a bit of olive oil
1 egg
A dollop of milk
1 tbpsn kernel corn
Ground black pepper to taste
A dash of paprika


Toppings:
1 tbspn canned salsa
1 tbspn imitation bacon bits

Process:

Cut roll in half and toast in skillet with a bit of oil. Set aside.
Break egg into an 8oz coffee mug with a wide brim.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Mix and stir vigorously for at least a 3o seconds.
Microwave 1-2 minutes until liquid has cooked off.
Scoop egg out and place on top of one half of toasted roll.
Top with salsa.
Sprinkle bacon bits over egg mixture.


Falafel Recipe

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cans of 210g of garbanzo beans, about 12 oz, drained
1/4 large white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
3 tbspns parsley, crush in palms
2 tspns cumin
2 tbspns flour
S/P to taste
Olive oil or other oil to fry

Sauce:
Plain yogurt

Process:

Add beans to a large bowl.
Mash beans into a paste.
Add onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, S/P to taste.
Mix ingredients well.
Add flour.
Mix again.

In a skillet with high sides, add enough oil to "deep" fry the falafel balls.
Heat medium to high.

Gather about a tablespoon of the mixture in your palm. By squeezing mixture between palms, make a ball.
Drop ball into hot oil.
Cook for about 3 minutes.
Turn balls over.
Cook for 4 minutes.
Remove cooked balls and place on cloth or paper towels to drain away oil.
Let them cool before serving.

I ate them just as they were with the plain yogurt topping.

I used olive oil to "deep" fry the falafel but I need to get a cheaper oil for deep skillet frying because olive oil is expensive.

I had planned on making apple and pineapple fritters as well as pineapple pancakes but as usual I overestimated my time and energy. But, I will make those recipes, soon.

The Sunday Cooking Marathon has been a good idea. Also, it is positive because I only went Big grocery shopping once in June.

I am getting better at meal planning and using what I have.

My Plate - Personalized

I have been exploring ChooseMyPlate.gov to try and understand the daily recommended dietary guidelines (DRDG).

Below is a chart personalized for my DRDG.




I think for most people this would be hard to stick to. While I am a low-meat eater, meaning I don't eat a lot of meat. Even I have more protein than the recommended allowance. And oil, since I cook with oil, I would exceed the recommended daily amount of oil a few times a week.

Maybe I got it wrong, but this is how I interpreted the guidelines.


The Smoke Has Cleared! The Story About One Costly Bag of White Rice

This is a post about a frugal failure.

The smoke had cleared but the smell still lingered in the air. I greeted my returning family with -- "The good news is I did not burn your house down." Then I told them about my rice cooking adventure.


While visiting family, I housesat their elderly dog for a few days while family members were on vacation.


Feeding and walking the dog seemed easy. But, the dog is blind so I carried him down the stairs to the grassy area for potty breaks. He still likes to sniff around. After we return to the house, I wanted him to get a little exercise, so I walk slowly around the house talking to him. He would follow me. Once he even did one of his play routines, going in circles and barking like he was playing with a toy.


At dinner time, I followed the instructions in making his meal, 1 teaspoon each of dry dog food, shredded chicken, cooked white rice, and wet dog food stirred with a bit of water.


Everything was going well until I figured I would run out of white rice before the family got home. Now, I've cooked rice on a stove, on a hot plate and in a microwave, so no problem, right?


I choose to get a bag of white rice because it was a better buy than the quick boil-in-a-bag rice.


I decided to cook the rice on the gas stove. 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, standard procedure, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes. Well, I got distracted and burnt the rice. The pot also needed a massive cleaning.


Then, I went to the store and got a covered microwave dish. Ok, rice and water, set power to 50%, cook 20 minutes, once again the rice burned.


Ok, cleaned the dish and started again. This time I cooked the rice for 5 minutes on high, then set the microwave at 50% but this time I watched all the dials and panels and realized that the last time I tried using 50% power, I did it wrong and it reverted to 100%. But, this time, I got cooked rice!!






Later, my sister tossed out the burnt pot.


The remaining rice was used to try to salvage a cell phone that had been dropped in the toilet. The phone sat in the bag of rice for two days. Later, the phone could function but would crash, so much for that remedy.


That is the history of one costly bag of rice.



More Meals From Recent Family Visit - Catfish, Tandoori Chicken, Sausage Burritos, and more

Here are few more meals I had during a recent family visit.

I fell in love with catfish after a visit to San Diego with my mom. So, my first meal when I got to MD was fried catfish at Red, Hot & Blue. Plus, I can't get it where I live or at least it is not a common item on any menu.


Fried Catfish

While I was out with a friend, who lives in the city, we decided to try Gran Trunk, an indian fast food place. My eyes lit up when I saw Tandoori Chicken Wraps. Tandoori Chicken is Shah Rukh Khan's favorite food, so you know what I got. It was delicious.


Tandoori Chicken Wraps

Now, when I lived in the area, my most common meal was McDonald's Sausage Burrito from the dollar menu, so I had to get one on my visit, especially because McD will probably change its menu over time.


McDonald's Sausage Burrito

Plus, I enjoyed many homemade meals with my family. All my family are good cooks.

On a visit to my brother's, my sister-in-law made a great dish, don't know what to call it but it was fun.

You take a piece of round, hard, rice paper and soak it briefly in water. Then fill the softened rice paper with various goodies like bean sprouts, cooked meat, sliced carrots, and other items. Add sauce if you want, roll it up and eat it. Just my kind of food.

I ate so many, I was full. I thought that was dinner. It wasn't but I was so full, I couldn't eat the delicious dinner M had prepared just for me: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans. But, because I would be staying or visiting more while I was in town, I got that dinner eventually.


Rice Wraps

Also, while I was in town, another sister came to visit. G is a good cook, too, even though she does not think so. We wanted to make a dinner for her son when he came to visit. G and I decided that T would help because he's a good cook, too.

They made chicken and broccoli and G added a "Secret Sauce." The meal was great and the secret sauce turned out to be packets of sauce we had gotten from a chicken place we'd eaten at recently. We still don't know what's in the sauce.

The meal was completed using leftover mashed potatoes and salad.

Chicken and Broccoli with a Secret Sauce

Another sister, S, and her husband, J, are good cooks, too. They like fresh vegetables and salads. While I contributed items to various meals, I did not cook much. I think they realized it was true I couldn't cook when I tried to make spaghetti sauce. One meal was particularly special. I  bought ground bison and J made Buffalo Burgers and grilled them.

We were all into yogurt. Every time I went to the grocery store, I bought a variety of yogurts. I like the dessert type yogurt like: Key Lime pie, Strawberry Shortcake, Chocolate Mousse, and others.

Some of the best times in my visit were the times spent sitting in my families' kitchens talking and making meals. Usually I just watched unless someone figured out a task I could do :-)

P.S. I OD'd on snacks. I bought way too many flavored chips and crackers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Yummy Appetizers from Coastal Flats - Crab Cake sliders and Shrimp Fritters

On a recent family visit, we went out to eat many times. One enjoyable meal was when we got a surprise call from my sister, S's, husband to join him for lunch at Coastal Flats.

We piled in the car and drove off to meet him. We sat on tall chairs outside at a cocktail table.

My other sister, G, and I decided to order appetizers instead of a meal. We got crab cake sliders and shrimp fritters with a corn salsa. Both were very good but the shrimp fritters were melt in your mouth delicious.

Besides the companionship, the best part of going out to eat, is I get to eat things I would never be able to make, like Shrimp Fritters.




Crab Cake Sliders and Shrimp Fritters with Corn Salsa

Friday, May 13, 2016

Food WastED - Menu Item

The topic of Food Waste is a large. Food is wasted in many ways by businesses, organizations and individuals. Various organizations are creating solutions. I hope to write more on this later.

One of those solutions is for restaurants to design menu items that use their own food "waste."

For this post, I want to simply list a menu item I found on a recent trip.

I was in Washington, DC, visiting a friend. We went out to eat several times. One stop was at Teasim, a funky restaurant.

I noticed a category on the menu, Trash or Treasure. This reminded me of a yard sale slogan, so I was intrigued. There were two menu items under this category that "were developed to utilize product often wastED in restaurants."

I choose a item from this category, the "Bread Salad", a bowl of roasted vegetable slices, large seasoned bread cubes, fruit slices, sunflower seeds with an orange fennel vinaigrette.

I did examine the salad trying to figure out how these items might have been considered "waste." I assumed that the fruits and vegetables were preparation remains from other menu items that were not enough to keep and that the bread cubes were made from bread ends.

The "Bread Salad" was great on many levels. Now to start with, I like all those items. It was tasty. It was the right amount of food for me at that moment, often I don't want a large meal. It was inexpensive. It was an adventure, and I became a participate in the WastED campaign to reduce food waste.


Trash or Treasure Menu Items





Bread Bowl
Look for future posts on food waste. It's a great tightwad idea :-)

One resource: http://www.wastedny.com



Monday, March 7, 2016

Cabbage Crazy Salad

When I looked back at my Crazy Salad post, I realized that was the beginning of my crazy salad experiments. This is an update.

After I found that a head of lettuce went bad before I could eat it all, I got a head of cabbage and tried that. I liked it. It is different. But, it makes a great base for a crazy salad. Plus, it keeps for several weeks in the frig.

If I worry about it going bad, I just cut a half or quarter of the head, drop it in boiling water for a few minutes, then freeze it. The frozen cabbage can be used in my Universal Skillet Dish or other cooked cabbage recipes.


Cabbage Crazy Salad

Base (Choose One)
1-3 Tablespoons per serving

Chicken, cooked and diced or canned, or as chicken salad

1/8 Head green cabbage, sliced into short thin strips
Rice, cooked, or Spanish rice
Salmon, canned, plain or as salmon salad


Step One - the Base


Other Ingredients (Use What You Have)

1-2 Tablespoons per serving

Vegetables
Artichoke hearts, 1-3
Avocado, slices
Beans, canned, black, red, or Chick peas
Beet, slices or cubes
Broccoli, pieces
Carrots, sliced or grated or shredded
Cauliflower, pieces
Celery, diced
Celery, sliced or diced
Chayote, sliced
Cheese, white, cubed
Cucumbers, sliced or diced
Green or red pepper, sliced or diced
Jicama, thin slices
Leeks, diced
Mushrooms, sliced
Olives, black or green, sliced
Onion, red or white, sliced or diced
Palm hearts, 1-3
Radishes, sliced or diced
Tomatoes, regular or cherry tomatoes, sliced or diced


Fruit
Apples, slices
Pineapple, fresh or canned, chunks
Raisins


Toppings (Use What You Have)

Croutons or toasted bread cubes
Imitation Bacon bits
Parmesan cheese


Seasonings (Choose one or two)

Curry powder
Ground black pepper
Paprika


Final Step - adding the extra ingredients


Note: I often don't use any dressing because the salad has lots of flavor.