Showing posts with label budget friendly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label budget friendly. Show all posts

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Smidgen Hot Pots





















Hot Pots are all the rage and for good reason.  These steaming hot vessels of broth, teeming with fresh and delicious vegetables, unctuous and savory meat proteins and tofu.  There's many elements to a good hot pot and no real wrong way to execute a successful one.  A spectacular broth doesn't need much more to satisfy a meal seeker, especially when some fresh crunch is implemented.  Overall, this is an inexpensive way to fill your tummy and build your hot pot to your desired level.  
This feature is called Smidgen Hot Pots, a smidgen of this, a smidgen of that.  All the ingredients in this recipe, sans the egg and broth, are remnants of meals past, both simple and complex.  The star of this dish is simply everything, but most notably, the smoked and grilled Boston Butt I prepared on behest of my Brother in Law Mark, he wanted some for his meals, as he headed back out on assignment for his job.  
I thinly sliced some of the upper smoky portion of the Boston Butt, which I partially cured in a briny solution before grilling imparting the bright pink color ( in case you thought it was too rare) and added to my already adequate Hot Pot as I would have in one of the magnificent Pho Bowls, I'd dined on from Saigon Cafe!  I loaded the pot down with  classic coleslaw blend, sliced jalapenos, marinated tofu, rice noodles and sliced green onion, all left over from the Pad Thai I made for dinner one night!  I made a simple super hot broth using Better than Bouillon chicken base and added a scant amount of Chinese Five Spice, sooooooo soothing. Underneath, the noodle of choice was a Korean brand.  The eggs were a last minute, yet suitable addition, welcome and pleasantly essential.  
A few weeks ago, I was able to locate the illusive spice I'd seen in almost all of the Mukbang videos I've grown to enjoy for the food culture and culinary delights.  The gorgeous red color of those dishes comes from Pure Red Pepper Powder, consisting of only the fleshy red pepper meat, no seeds, brilliant and heat forward, It's not for the faint at heart, the burn of this spice is noted immediately during and after it hits the taste buds, so by all means, tread lightly, good fellows haha.

I added some as garnish and also to the broth itself, fully aware and privy to its thermogenic effects on the metabolism and its punch of antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, plus polyphenols and phytochemicals, all good for the cells and body, an armor against certain cancers and diseases!  

The final results are pictured above, simple and delicious, all using just a smidgen of this and a smidgen of that....small parts to a big finish, every bite a little different than the last, good to the last drop! 


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

American Buffet Blues and Covidity

My mother and me at a buffet before Covid-19.


Once upon a time, there was the American Buffet. The Americas bloom with hubs, casinos and family friendly spots, where one could have a run of the gamut of copious amounts of food choices.  Some specialize in the Comfort Food Style or Country Buffet settings, while others, though a bit more expensive, could provide more extensive and charming foods like prime rib, lobsters, crab legs, custom made sushi displays, chocolate fountains and American versions of Chinese Food.  
The sign that hung over the gates of Hell in Dante's Inferno,"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here" is certainly the theme of the waist bands and waist lines of its patrons, at least for the night, because as much as we would like to think we aren't gluttonous in our ways, not limited to food alone, we are in fact liable to over indulge.  
I myself, am guilty of such, though not even close to the 21 year old me, with a gang of friends, fresh from taking a ride in the car, on the desolate back roads near our Alma Mater, with the herbal remedies consuming the vehicle, making it a practical dutch oven of Marley's Muse.  We  then headed to the Golden Corral for dinner, a proverbial orgy of mastication, from soups, salads, entree after entree, desserts, more entrees and topping it off with ice cream, refills of soft drinks, coffee and waters with lemon...We were inundated with food, no one there to tell us "You've had enough"  like we were too intoxicated to drive from the bar or had too much to drink, no safe words, emergency stop buttons or elder to reprimand us for putting too much on our plates, just full on satisfaction/misery for college work money well spent and participation overload, filled to the gills and as the moments ticked by, sick.
 We weren't sickened by food borne illnesses, like E Coli, Listeria or Staph, but rather overindulgence to a fault.  Back then, we possibly took for granted the assumption that everyone washed their hands, stayed home when they were not feeling well and were careful not to sneeze on or near other people or foods, remembered to cough or expel air into the curve of their elbows. 
Reflecting, we had only one instance of such food debauchery at an "all you can eat buffet," of which we never took part in again, at least not like that.  Those were the days...
With this  new 'normal', the American Buffet has been all but decimated, definitely compromised and even more of a risky endeavor than before.  We were already faced with the veritable lottery of illnesses and bacteria, susceptible to the preexisting conditions.  With Covid 19, the gamble is such that the slightest carelessness, even on the part of other consumers, can prove fatal, or at least regrettable.  From listening to the experiences of  people I know personally who have contracted, fought and recovered from Covid 19, I think I'll take the 'mild food poisoning for 1000 Alex', the lesser of two evils. 
With the Covidity of this situation reaching fever pitch, I feel that in order to save the American Buffet, many more safeguards must be implemented. I actually brainstormed some ideas of how to preserve its integrity, like requiring the patrons to wear disposable gloves when visiting the food stations, as not to transmit bacteria from handle to handle, no individual will be touching the actual handle, employees included.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Temperature checks at the door is not out of the question.  Some walk-thru  ultraviolet light systems at the entrance would be nice.  The sneeze guards would need to completely cover/separate the diners from the food items, with only the opening for the utensil, a small circle if you will, just large enough to get portions from the desired dish.  I also think there would have to be a station that immediately washes/disinfects the soiled trays, eating utensils, drinking vessels and discarded napkins, with proper sanitation methods applied.  It seems like a lot, but in fact a lot is at stake. 
 Consumers want to feel safe and a measure of comfort when venturing out to recapture some normalcy.  Alas, this is indeed only a phase and I have full confidence in our scientists and doctors to arrive at a cure we can all stand behind, soon.  Earlier, I mentioned the word (Covid)ity, I think I'll be the first to say, I coined this word to mean "1.) of dire importance, 2.) something that denotes the severeness of a situation or 3.) at the precipice of one's attention".  The suffix ity, is defined as "the state of being something".  This word is derived from the words and virus (Co)rona (Vi)rus (D)isease of the year 2019 or Covid 19 for short, (Covid is being presented as a noun per my definition ) which in reality is all of those definitions, and more. 
(Covid)ity may be used outside of the context of the virus, to communicate a certain importance of any thing or event.  This assigned definition of the scientific abbreviation gives us a takeaway that may be used interchangeably.  One day, this pandemic will be no more, but embossed on our brains, in history and medical books, its Covidity, never forgotten.
 


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Pantry Chicken and Broccoli 'Lo Mein'



Feeling like takeout, but want to stay at home and save some money? This recipe is easy to execute and full of bold and delicious flavors from the Orient. These ingredients are probably in your pantry and freezer already. The Lo Mein in this recipe is actually spaghetti, left over from a spaghetti dinner I made on a Friday night, two weeks ago.  The uncooked spaghetti was in a large sealed zip bag, but I wanted to go ahead and rotate my pasta stock, so I built a dish around it. Buying the 2 lb. package really saves!  
Some thawed chicken breast, frozen broccoli, peas and carrot blend, and some baby corn come together and BOOM! you've got a delicious one dish meal with all the right moves! 
The black sesame seeds are an added plus, but not necessary, the plain will do just fine.  I used some liquid aminos in this recipe to supplement some of the soy sauce and shave the sodium, just a bit.  I don't worry too much about it in this dish, because the amounts are spread across at least 10 servings.  
Some water chestnuts are a  great inexpensive way to add mega crunch and texture, just a thought!

Recipe:
1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips, then cut into 1 inch, bite sized pieces
1 lb. spaghetti noodles, cooked according to instructions, in salted water, just short of al dente, about 7 minutes.
1 lb. frozen broccoli, thawed
1 c. frozen peas and carrots, frozen
1/2 can baby corn, drained and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 c. reduced sodium soy, plus 3/4 c. water or stock to make 1 cup.
1/3 c. liquid aminos 
1/4. c. pure cane sugar
3-5 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 to 2 tsp. Sriracha or to taste
2 tbs. cornstarch, plus 2 tbsp. water to make a slurry
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. ground ginger 
SPST
Olive oil for drizzling
Sesame Oil for garnish, optional

Instructions:
In a medium hot skillet drizzled with olive oil, brown chicken in batches.
SPST. (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
While pasta cooks, add the thawed broccoli. After 7 minutes, drain and shock in cold water.
Add pasta and broccoli back to spaghetti pot and drizzle with scant amount of sesame oil and keep warm on the lowest setting.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine soy, water, aminos, sugar, ginger, garlic, Sriracha and corn starch, set aside.
 After the chicken is all browned, add back to skillet , add sauce ingredients from bowl and bring up to a boil
to thicken, then turn off heat.
Add peas and carrots and baby corn, stir.
Pour chicken mixture over pasta and broccoli.
Over medium low heat, fold until evenly coated and veggies/colors are distributed as evenly as possible. 
Check seasonings and adjust as desired. 
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle lightly with sesame oil.
Sliced Green onion will make an excellent garnish also. 




Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Southern Style Sides: Down Home Green Beans



If you happen to have a ham bone around, from 'Virginia Prosciutto', in all its salted and cured glory would be great, now is a great time for this delicious and flavor rich dish that is these green beans.  Most of us have a sure bet menu items that our families' gravitate towards, travel well and get rave reviews, even from people we may not normally share the table with regularly.  I've been making this version of green beans for years, especially for the special dinners, birthdays and holidays.  
If pork is not really your thing, no worries, smoked turkey wings, legs and necks, make delicious music with the greens too!
Old fashioned green beans aren't just dumped from the can and heated. Freshly snapped from the garden during this time of year is optimal, work with what you have access to. Soul Food style greens and beans should be simmered for additional time, up to 2 hours, sometimes more, infusing the vegetable with depth and charm, fulfilling and full of love and effort.  You can taste the history in each bite.  
A few aromatics are all you need and a little more time, your tasters won't soon forget it.  I am a fan of a quick steam or saute of a garden fresh green bean, simple and drizzled with a little olive oil or sprinkled with some almond slivers .  As popular as green bean casserole is, I've never really fallen into that matrix, the cream of mushroom in the can, saving families since the thirties, when it was created and marketed for making affordable dinners and gussying up a plain meal in minutes, a godsend for the Depression Era. 
This dish is as easy as pie, needing only the time to simmer for a couple of hours and reduce the liquids.  The pieces of ham are just a little added bonus!  

Recipe:
1 gallon green beans, from the can, drained and rinsed
1 ham 🦴 or portion
2 medium onions, quartered
4 cloves 🧄, peeled and smashed
1 small pinch, red 🌶️ flakes
🐔 or 🥒 Stock or water, enough to cover green beans in large, heavy bottomed pot
🫒 oil
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Start by sauteing onion and garlic over medium high heat, in a large vessel, with a heavy drizzle of Olive oil.
Once onion is aromatic and showing signs of caramelization, add remaining ingredients and bring up to a boil.
Once mixture starts to boil, reduce to medium and let simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After above time, reduce again to medium low and continue to simmer until liquid is reduced and beans are tender and flavorful.
Taste as you go, check the seasoning of the green beans until the desired intensity is reached.
Whenever that time comes, turn to low.
This recipe makes a large quantity. For smaller families or dishes, simply halve the recipe.
You can freeze the extras, for slow cooked veggie goodness in a flash later!
 



Thursday, July 16, 2020

Buttery Bourbon Peach Cobbler




Peaches are in full swing here in Virginia and man are they delicious!  The plump, brightly hued orbs of sweet and juicy 'fruitmeat' is the perfect accompaniment to both shellfish, fish and pork, even poultry.  A nice, chunk filled cobbler is easy to assemble and can be ready for your next dessert slot in no time. I was in the local supermarket looking for peaches and Elba Butcher Shoppe had just what I needed.  They have peaches by the peck, the bushel or pair, right now and I wanted to have enough for more than just one recipe.  I saw this wonderful recipe for a brown sugar cake with a Peach Bourbon Frosting and it peaked my interest.  I must create something inspired by that article, but first, I needed to complete the request of my oldest daughter, Genesis. Besides, any time is a good time to pull out my vintage Emile Henry pie dish, the beautiful ruffled retired one, "Paprika" edition. I just love it. It was a gift, a most wonderful one I might add. It is a humongous dish, made in the 90's, a full 11 inches across!  That's a mighty dish for pies and cobblers, even meat pies and quiches.

  Genesis has some firm likes and dislikes, but I know for sure she enjoys a fresh peach or two, with pleasure and gratification.  I like to grab enough for the girls to snack and go, mom included.  There's a certain nostalgia involved in eating fruit within its season, during it perfectly, wonderfully ripe time, it's a much different experience for the palate. Just Bliss.  This recipe is simple and full of flavor.  The Bourbon may be added or taken away, I wanted to add some depth of flavor, with some oaky undertones and elevation, Maker's Mark does just that and there's plenty left to either serve alongside,  save for another day or to make a boozy shake to go along with it!  

Recipe:
 5 lbs. or 16 c. fresh peach slices, 1/4 to 1/2 inch cut (this dish is huge, 11 inches across, 2 inches deep, you can use 2 regular deep pie dishes, but you will also need two more crusts)
1 stick of butter, unsalted
Juice of one medium lemon
2- 9 inch pie crusts, either store bought or homemade
1  c. pure cane sugar or brown sugar or to taste
1 tbs. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt
3 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. Maker's Mark or good quality Bourbon
SPST, (I used some freshly cracked black pepper grinds to compliment the Bourbon and sweetness of the peaches.)
 Preheat oven to 350*F. 
In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, cornstarch and spices. Stir with fork to mix well. 
In a large bowl, add peaches, lemon juice and Bourbon.  Toss to coat.
Sprinkle evenly with sugar mixture and combine in a folding fashion until evenly coated. 
Lightly grease pie dish with a small piece of the butter and press one of the crusts into the bottom and up the sides.
Place small pats of butter across the first crust.
Add contents of bowl and spread evenly.
Add remaining pats of butter and cover with second crust.
Make slits to vent.
Bake until golden and bubbly, about 50 minutes.
Let stand before serving.
Makes Smiles and is perfect with some Vanilla Bean Ice cream or Butter Pecan! 









Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Atlantic City Sliders, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: A Review







Aside from fun in the sun, a good tan, some much needed relaxation and copious amounts of libations, a trip to the beach  is its own reward.  We normally vacation in North Myrtle Beach every year, sans this year for me and my bestie. Nothing could make that any better, unless you're talking about dropping by Atlantic City Sliders and copping a flight of mini burgers, fries and an ice cold beverage.

 Atlantic City Sliders has a simple and comprehensive menu containing something for all tastes.  My Bestie and I went with a varied selection of sliders, including cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, steak and cheese, hamburger and barbeque, plus chicken sliders and cheese balls to go.  Each and every slider was as good as the next , fresh, hot and juicy, with pillowy, soft bread and complimentary sides of pickles, house made slaw and an atmosphere that will call you back for another round.  
The décor is an exciting and nostalgic collection of pop culture favorites, 50's diner setting, complete with neon, checkerboard and license plates, photos, records, you name it. It is situated directly beside the liquor store by the Food Lion, so it's right on track with two very important stops.  The staff was amiable and diverse, immediately creating an I've been here before vibe!  The owner was on site and right there, in on the grill action.  He was  pleasant and interesting, he even came out into the dining room and chatted with my bestie and me for a bit. He was intrigued by our obvious chemistry (or hysterical laughter ) and  he was amazed at how well we interacted.  He wondered how we managed to still to smile, as some of the couples he's seen, are together but distant, stone faces and grumps.  Part of it is that we are outgoing and bubbly, a dynamic duo, with years and years of experience, when it comes to friendship. We met in college with no pretense or expectations, then blossomed into soul mates.  The rest is living history, love and understanding.  Our dads actually share the same name and we are from a similar demographic.  Things just worked out and we are incredibly supportive of one another.  He is my biggest literary and culinary fan and I am his friend to the end, confidant and homie.

The prices are reasonable and encourage extra ordering. 
 The fries were hot and crispy, fluffy and flaky on the inside. 
 I was delighted that the barbeque was made on site as well. I am a bit skeptical usually, because all barbeque sandwiches are not created equal, but these sliders proved their worth, with the right amount of zing and zang, subtle smoked porkiness, especially accompanied by a dab of the house made slaw. The steak and cheese sliders provided an ample ratio of meat/peppers and onions/cheese, melty and seasoned.
  The classic cheeseburger held its own with properly cooked beef, not over cooked and cardboardy, like some dine and dash burger joints.

 The breaded chicken sliders were simple and delicious, nice and crispy on the outside, supple in the middle, not limp and sogged out in places. 

The cheeseballs were good too.  They had a crunchy outer coating and a molten center.
 We tried to order as many items as possible, amassing a critique for our fellow vacationers and my readers alike.  Atlantic City Sliders was new to us, but it felt like home, and we wondered how we had made it through so many vacations without it, up until then.  We can't wait to go back, for the atmosphere, the food and the owner, he has top notch passion, and it shows in the sliders!  


Atlantic City Sliders
1000 Hwy 17 N
 North Myrtle Beach, SC, 29582  

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

See and Slay: Bronwyn's Omurice


One of the best things about being in a new kitchen is the possibility of new and fresh recipe ideas that spawn from the environment or chemistry the new locale creates.  Additionally, I like to make the dishes my girls' think up or want on the dinner/meal agenda come to fruition.  Doing this is good culinary exercise and keeps me on my 'game', plus it keeps us from falling into the comfort zone rut of cooking and taking the easy way out, instead of going for elevated and diverse cuisines.  Moreover, it keeps the kids excited about meals that would otherwise go unnoticed. 
This particular day on vacation, Bronwyn mentioned a dish called Omurice. Omurice (pronounced Ahm-Yoo-rice) is traditionally fried rice, usually with chicken,  wrapped in an omelette.  I was oblivious initially about what that was, Bronwyn graciously ushered my phone from my hands and pulled it up on Google.  I was immediately intrigued once I began my research, finding its origin and ingredient call, the proper technique and the variations, then looking to put my spin on it, but keeping it true to its form.  I am an avid fan of Japanese cuisine as well as many other Asian countries and regions.  In fact, my cooking style is best described in large part, as a fusion between Southern American and Pan Asian cuisine respectively. 
Omurice was invented in the early 80's as a way to combine Japanese cuisine with our Western Culture. The other way this is served is quite an art.  The fluffy egg is placed atop the rice and a slit is made down the length of the cloud-like, custardy deliciousness and you can watch it cascade down its sides for a most glorious presentation.  I haven't tried this yet, but soon will.


I named this dish after Bronwyn for her admiration and respect of Japanese culture and her love of Anime. 

Recipe: 
2 cups cooked yellow 🍚 or other cooked rice of choice,
using 25 % less water.

In a medium pan, over medium high heat, drizzled with 🫒 oil and a pat of 🧈
2 cloves garlic, smashed. Add to oil while heating up and sauté
1 🐔 breast, about 4 oz. boneless/skinless, small cubed and SPST, sautéed in olive oil.
Add chicken.  After it is cooked through, browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes, Add:
1/2 cup Cole slaw mix, classic style 
1/2 c. Romaine greens with carrot  
1/4 c. each fresh parsley and cilantro, rough chopped
2 chopped green 🧅 or to taste, green and white parts
Sauté with chicken for about 2 minutes and remove garlic and chop, put chopped garlic back. 
Add rice.

 

Fold together over medium heat .


Add 2 tbsp. ketchup and 2 tsp. organic, less sodium soy
.  Stir and fold  until combined.  Transfer to a bowl or dish.
 Mix together 1 egg with 1 tbsp. of milk for every  person to be served.  Make one omelet at a time, 
Add 2 tbsp. sharp shredded cheese to one side of omelet and add a portion of the chicken fried rice to the middle and fold each side over the mound in the middle. Shake the omelet down to one side of pan and flip onto plate. Carefully shape into oblong fashion and garnish with ketchup. 



















Saturday, June 6, 2020

Good Eatin'; Crispy Fried Pork Loin and Cat-Head Biscuits



Country Fried Pork Loin on Homemade Biscuits

Today is an homage to Southern American goodness.  There's nothing quite like a fried piece of protein, hot off the paper towels and stuffed into a big ole biscuit.  I hadn't made homemade biscuits since winter, which seemed to leave only a week or two ago (if I were using temperatures  as a guide) We were in the mood for something like we would get from eating breakfast out.  
The first thing that came to mind was the biscuits.  For me, being a 'country girl' firmly establishes a principle of being able to 'make bread' from scratch.  I also had to 'master' macaroni and cheese, potato salad, greens, pinto beans and many other items, to be certifiable with seven sisters who also cook! The biscuits may be served stand alone, with butter, jellies and jam, smothered in gravy, plain or as the vessel by which one can consume a crunchy, boneless, piping hot portion of chicken, beef or pork.
  I've heard biscuits referred to as "cathead" all my life, those are the larger than normal sized, proportionate to the size of a cat's head, hand shaped biscuits.  Perfect shapes and cuts are not your judge when you make cathead biscuits, as time is usually of the essence and you need to get it done. I think I am the only of my sisters that uses cutters; bread, cookie or otherwise, though I learned to 'make bread' on free form catheads. The size of  my version uses a larger sized cutter, ( an empty 20 oz. can of pineapple, with both ends removed). With it's size, one can accommodate any filling or addition with ease, like a sandwich bread.    That way, the food can travel and be sturdy enough to handle the wares of the day, plus be filling, all at the same time. 

Recipe:
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless pork loin, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces or about 12 total
Seasoned flour
Buttermilk Pancake mix
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Oil for Frying
Cat-Head Biscuits


Heat oil to 375*F.
Meanwhile, soak the slices in a salted water solution, until ready to cook.
This helps to extract some of the water from the pork and promote a golden crust that will stick to the protein. 
Drain and Rinse the pork well before cooking.  
Lay on paper towels to facilitate moisture extraction, flipping once.
Combine the flour and pancake mix using a 3 to 1 ratio, (1 part pancake mix to every 3 parts seasoned flour and shake well until evenly incorporated.
Dredge moist loin slices in flour mixture, shaking off the excess and fry them in small batches.
Fry until loin is floating and golden brown, about 4 minutes, give or take depending on maintaining oil temperature and space in the cooking vessel. Also the bubbles will have subsided considerably. If  you listen carefully, you can hear the frying sound decrease when all the steam has escaped under the pressure of frying.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.  
Cut biscuit in half horizontally and add fried loin. 
Best when served immediately, but keep well and will still be delicious at room temperature.
Serves 6 to 8, with a couple of extras for seconds or a guest or yourself, for later! 

Cat-Head Biscuits

4 cups AP flour, preferably bread flour, plus more if needed
1 tbsp. double acting baking POWDER
1 tsp. or less fine grain Himalayan Pink Salt or kosher
1 stick unsalted butter, frozen 
2/3 c. shortening or plant butter
1 1/2 c. buttermilk or plain 2 % milk 

Preheat oven to 450*F.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt until well blended.
Cut in shortening with a fork, until the flour takes on a crumbly texture.
Using a grater, grate in butter, gradually and toss with flour mixture after each round of grating to distribute the butter and keep it from clumping together.
Make a well in the center of flour and pour in buttermilk.  
Using a fork, stir from center, bringing in parts of the flour gradually. 
Stir until a loose and sticky dough is formed. 
Add flour as needed to your hands to make dough knead-able, and lightly knead for about 1 minute.
Tear off portions of dough and shape into discs, about a small palmful, use your judgement for size and intended purpose.
Place on un-greased baking sheet and brush with a small amount of buttermilk mixed with water.
Bake until golden, about 13 minutes, depending on size.
Glaze with additional butter if desired.
Makes about 10 Cathead biscuits.


Another recipe for Cathead Biscuits, Denese's Cornflake and Buttermilk Biscuits


Before I go......





Saturday, May 30, 2020

Mask On, Mask Off


Virginia has entered into its mandatory masks in public phase and I have found yet another use for some fabulous fabrics I initially bought for sewing sensational Spring inspired napkins and tea towels.
After many tutorials and much reading, I settled on one of the many Youtube videos, that made the most out of my on hand materials. It was a useful guide to executing my own.  
I have been making masks for my family members, starting with my children of course and my mom, who's 80 years young, both in the high risk factor portion of the population, including but not limited to asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, and myself, bringing a side of RA to the table. 
I've also come up with a hand sanitizer formula including aroma therapy oils, to soothe the drying  and chaffed hands and the mind.  An added plus of aromatherapy oils is that the essential oils have natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties, fortifying the alcohol even more.
 I feel that even if the masks do not eliminate our risks completely, I am proactively taking charge of the practices we can control, alongside limiting travel and large crowds, vigilant and proper hand washing techniques and consistently decontaminating common areas, door knobs and adding a splash of bleach to the dishes water, something I did already. 
 Although this pandemic leaves no one safe, I like to think that 'we'll be alright, some day', a phrase from a gospel hymn, one that brings me solace in a time of such confusion and burgeoning uncertainty.  
When you return home from interacting with the world, the masks can be removed to enjoy some wholesome and delicious home cooked meals with family and snacks, while we play board games or watch Scooby Doo and the gang. 
 Family is at the heart of why we fight and why we keep going.  The fire in our bellies burn to protect the ones we love and compassion to sympathize with the families in areas most and least affected, the prayers we send out at night or the time we take to volunteer or lend a hand where we can does not go unnoticed and for that one should be grateful.  I know I am.  Amen.

Before I Go...

This is LeMon Grey, I like to call him Kibbeh. He looks like a panda bear in this photo of him chewing on his favorite, sticks!  He's wearing his hair piece, which he loves to toss about and shake.  He's a doll baby and an endless source of entertainment for our family.  He's not our pup, but we love him just the same.  I hope you were able to take a moment to smile and take it easy like this guy, until next time...

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Vegetable Primavera Frittatta


There's nothing like a nice hearty dish to help you use up some of the ingredients in your crisper  and other on hand staples and Spring into Spring!  This frittata is  perfect for that.  Packed  with vegetable brightness and flavors, this budget friendly recipe screams summer veggie lovin' and 'have brunch, will travel'.   The natural sweetness of the peppers, onions and carrots really shine through and there's plenty to go around and for seconds. The vegetables may be roughly chopped, but similar in size for evenly cooking.  By the time  it is finished, they will all be tender and full of baked goodness, but with good texture.  Revisions can be a snap and  personal substitutions make it your own.
Perfect for a Vegan or Vegetarian spread but also  just a regular meatless, delicious meal.  This dish is a great way to eat the rainbow and may be served at room temperature. Brunch or Lunch, dinner and even breakfast is only a few steps away.  Simple buttered toast points make for a creamy and fantastic accompaniment.
An important thing to remember during this time is to arm ourselves inside and out, by making sure we consume as many immune system boosting and vitamin rich substances to help our bodies stay up for the upcoming challenges.
Eating the Rainbow should be our priority.  Much of what's occurring now is out of our control, but some things, we can take charge of. We like options, at least I do, why not go ahead and start something before it's mandated by our bodies to do so.  Priming our immune system and arming it with what's needed to potentially take a beating and keep pushing us through, is a part of our responsibility as proactive citizens joining the fight to save ourselves.

 By now, many of us are participating in "social distancing" and some self isolation.  Keep up the good work.  Now is a good time to try this recipe.  It will help sustain you and boost your mood.  Vitamins and minerals are cool like that.

Recipe:
Blend of like sized chopped veggies from crisper, I used about 6 cups
1 c. Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
10 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 c. heavy cream or evaporated milk
Dash of Sriracha or favorite hot sauce
SPST ( Salt and Pepper to Suite Taste)
Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 375*F.
In an oven safe saucepan, over medium high heat, drizzle with 2 to 3 turns of the pan of olive oil.
Add veggies and cook for several minutes until fragrant.
Add garlic.
SPST.
Pour eggs beaten with milk and hot sauce , seasoned , over veggies and sprinkle with cheese.
Cover with foil and bake until set, about 40 minutes.
Remove foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking to get top golden.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 8 to 10.









Sunday, March 15, 2020

Walking Waffles

With the entire Virginia School system and others closed for the next two weeks in an effort to keep the pupils and families safe, the need for additional meals and snacks at home will be at the helm of our to do lists.  By the time we as parents hear the "I'm Hungry" song from one to potentially several kiddoes, on repeat,  especially from the tweens and teens, we will have to arm ourselves with some quick and filling fixes, preferably wholesome and nutritious ones, some maybe not so much.  Enter this quick idea, from which several variations may spring from, the "Walking Waffles" .
 I came up with this a couple of mornings ago, before the break began.  Time was closing in on us fast, and I knew the kiddoes wouldn't have time for a complete sit down and plated breakfast and make it to school on time. With some quick thinking I decided to layer the would be plated items in a 16 oz. plastic cup, so that when they started their meal, it was in a vessel that could travel also, if needed.  I filled the lower portion of the cup with the fruit pick of the morning, fresh sliced strawberries (I added the fork before adding the waffles for stability and ease of movement) and quartered the blueberry waffles, so they would both fit in the cup and be in smaller, bite sized portions. I drizzled the whole shebang with some pure maple syrup.  That way the excess could drip down onto the fruit and add delicious sweetness below.
 Make it super special by adding some whipped cream to the top or stick in a couple of slices of crisp bacon or sausage links (your choice, regular or vegan) at the top, for a super meal on the go, for both the kids and the parents.
There is no wrong way and the fruit choices can be the same or mixed, depending on preference. This method will also curtail some of  the additional dish washing, which will certainly be a part of the upcoming weeks. Let the kids pick the flavor profiles and they will receive it better, plus they'll have a go-to if they have to do it themselves.  Have fun with it and Godspeed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Ziti w/Brats, Kraut and Burst Grape Tomatoes

A quick and delicious spin on your Ziti is using Bratwurst and Sauerkraut.  The mellow brats and tangy kraut blend well and add a surprisingly wonderful fusion of Italian and German cuisine.  The grape tomatoes implement more flavor and freshness, plus lycopene and B vitamins.  Serve with a green salad and fruit for a deliciously satisfying and complete meal in no time!

Recipe:
1 lb. ziti
1/2 lb. brats, sliced thinly
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 c. sauerkraut, drained and squeezed of excess liquid
1 jar or 15 oz. favorite tomato sauce
1 pint of grape tomatoes
Herbs de Provence
SPST
Olive Oil for drizzling
Fresh Parsley for garnish

In a large pot, cook ziti in salted water, according to instructions to al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 c. pasta water.
In the same pot over medium high heat, drizzle with two turns of olive oil and add onion.
Cook , stirring often, until fragrant and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add brats and sauerkraut and SPST.
Cook until brats show signs of caramelization, about 3 minutes.
Add sauce and pasta water as needed. Fold in ziti and Herbs de Provence as desired, about 1 tsp.
Check Seasonings.
Simmer for about 4 minutes for flavors to marry and add tomatoes.
Cover and let simmer another few minutes and remove from heat.
Serves 6 to 8.