Monday, July 31, 2006

Leftover Lotto

When we have a fridge full of leftovers, it is time for Leftover Lotto at our house! I have a set of plastic spoons numbered 1-4. I hold the spoons with the numbers hidden and everyone picks a spoon. The number you get is the order you get to pick out your dinner! I set the dishes that need heating on one counter, condiments and cold sides on the other. You pick out your hot dishes, nuke them, then add your cold. The great thing is that if there is one slice of pizza left, and you've drawn number 1, you can have it even though you know the pesron behind you wants it too! (Of course, you can be a big person and share, but you don't have to.) Big 'uns help the little 'uns. Guess what we're having for dinner tonight??? :)

Grilled Shrimp with Feta Cheese and Tomatoes

I stole this recipe off Parade.com. I saw it in the paper yesterday, and thought it looked yummy!

Grilled Shrimp With Feta and Tomatoes

Grill the shrimp no more than two minutes per side, or they’ll be tough. You also can cook them in a skillet or grill pan.

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds large shrimp (peeled and deveined), rinsed and patted dry
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 head radicchio (or 2 heads, if small), outer leaves discarded, inner leaves separated, rinsed and dried
2 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 8 pieces each
8 ounces fresh feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup whole mint leaves, coarsely chopped

1. Prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, mustard, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil until thickened. Set aside. (Makes 1/3 cup.)
2. Toss together the shrimp, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let rest for 15 minutes, tossing once.
3. Prepare the grill with hot coals. Thread the shrimp on 12 metal skewers or grill in batches. Grill the shrimp over high heat for no more than 2 minutes per side, turning carefully. Remove the shrimp to a large bowl.
4. Trim the tough white bottom section off each radicchio leaf, then add the leaves to the shrimp along with the tomatoes, cheese and mint.
Toss with the reserved vinaigrette.
Serve in a large, decorative bowl.
Serves 8.
Per serving: 270 calories, 8g carbohydrate, 33g protein, 11g fat, 275mg cholesterol.

Chicken day yesterday

I abused one of the recipes posted earlier to such an extent that I guess I created another recipe! I did two different crock pot chicken recipes yesterday. Here they are:

Chicken Alfredo (a VERY precise recipe! :) )
3 (ish) frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts
enough water to cover the bottom of your small crock pot
a sprinkling of garlic powder

Crock the chicken, water and garlic on high while you're at church. When you get home, microwave 1 jar of alfredo sauce for a minute then mix the sauce with the chicken in the crock pot. The chicken will likely shread as you stir in the sauce. Add 1/2 chopped tomato (or whatever you have in the fridge) and add a dash of Italian seasoning. Serve over egg noodles

(hint: COVER the jar with a paper towel when you microwave the sauce, I still have to clean out my microwave!). Very yummy and kid approved!

BBQ Chicken Sandwiches (this was inspired by the earlier BBQ beef recipe)
1 frozen chicken (about 3ish lbs)
1ish cup BBQ sauce
1 can root beer (hey, it was what I had!)
1/2 finely chopped onion (to hide it from fussy eaters who think they don't like onion)

Put all ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low about 10ish hours. Drain off most of the juice, but save it. Shred the chicken, adding some of the liquid so the chicken is the consistancy you want it to be. Serve on nice soft buns (with cheese and pickles if you so desire!)

There we go! My first contribution to the ROUS collection. Recipes are fussy husband and kid tested, mother approved! :)

Welcome, Tara!

Just thought I would point out that Tara has joined our recipe blog. Welcome, Tara! And of course welcome to Her Eminence (Julie) who joined us a couple of weeks ago. And welcome to all of us who are here!

Hey, Suze, you ought to see if your mom has any special yummy recipes she would like to post on here while she's there!

More Tips for Indian Cooking

Before we cook, we change our clothes and close all the doors in the apartment and turn on the exhaust fan! Onions, garlic, curry leaves, etc, etc, etc!!

Chicken Biryani

Sorry, I am not allowed to share this recipe. It's one of those "secret recipe" things, like "Grandma's Apple Pie" sort of things, or "The Secret Sauce." Plus, I always get tired of it after the first two hours, and I don't know how the recipe ends (like many movies I've partially seen). Maybe one day.

Chicken Curry

Daniel made this Saturday, and it was awesome! I hope you like it. Chicken Curry is a staple in our house. (There are so many good recipes for chicken curry, so don't worry if you don't have these exact ingredients. We make substitutions all the time, sometimes for the better.)

Ingredients:
  • chicken (a pound or two), chopped into small pieces (3/4 inch?)--we used breast tenders this time, and it was easy and so good, but thigh pieces are also very good in this. I've only used boneless, but it's good with bones.
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • curry leaves (five or six leaves, washed)
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • 2 chopped tomatos (we used roma/plum)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 T oil
  • 2 cups water (can be extracted from your faucet)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • garnish: chopped corriander
For the Paste (curry paste):
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 4 dried red chillis (use your best judgement)
  • 6 T grated coconut (optional)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (or powder)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or powder)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1" cinnamon stick (I think we used a tsp of powder)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 green cardamoms (we used black powder)
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • oil
Preparation:
  1. Prepare the paste. We put the seeds in the coffee grinder, but I think you could just skip that step! But then fry all the "paste" ingredients in some oil, until it's all fragrant (turn on the exhaust fan). Spoon it out and set it aside.
  2. Heat about 2 T of oil and fry the onions until golden brown.
  3. Add curry leaves, chilly powder, turmeric powder, and "paste." Saute well.
  4. Add chopped tomatos and fry till oil separates.
  5. Add chicken pieces and saute. Add lemon juice, water, and salt. Cover and cook on medium low until chicken is fully cooked. (Daniel put the whole shabang in the pressure cooker after a couple of minutes in the skillet, and cooked it for "five whistles" on medium heat. I think that mkaes it really good.)
  6. Garnish with chopped corriander leaves, if you so desire.
  7. Serve with rice or chapatis.
If you're gonna reheat it the next day, we think it's better in the oven than the microwave. (Pyrex'll go in both.)

Cabbage Fry (kid tested, mother approved)

This is one of our favorite recipes, and it's really easy. There are probably only a couple of ingredients you might not have, but they're cheap and can be found in an indian grocery store, and maybe even Kroger.

Ingredients:
  • popu ingredients, 1 tsp each: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, minced garlic, and curry leaves+ (strip one stem and wash)
  • 2 tablespoons or so of your preferred cooking oil
  • 1 onion, diced (I used a white onion.)
  • 1 green chili, seeded and finely chopped*
  • 1/4 cup of chana dal, washed twice in cold running water and drained#
  • 1 head of cabbage: cut into thin long strips. Remember, cabbage reduces in volume by 60 or 70% when cooked.
  • 2 tsp unsweetened grated coconut+
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (Turmeric is a good ingredient to have, because you'll use it in almost every indian recipe, and you'll probably only have to buy it once, because usually you'll only need a pinch.)


*The recipe called for 5 green chilis. We used one sarrano pepper, and left the seeds in. I think two would have been okay. But if you are sensitive to heat, use one and seed it.
# chana dal is dry split chickpeas. Try to get it if you can; it makes the recipe. It's good to soak this stuff for about 30 minutes, but not essential. Don't soak it in a tiny container, cause it will be hard to get it out! I "accidentally" soaked mine in a plastic cup yesterday, and when I went to use it, it was all jammed in there. It grows! I haven't tried this recipe with canned chickpeas.
+ We don't use coconut anymore in this, but you could. Also, yesterday, we were out of curry leaves, and we didn't miss them.

Preparation:
  1. Do the popu (not 'the hustle'). Just heat some oil in your skillet, on medium heat, and fry the popu until the seeds start to pop (you might want to keep your lid handy).
  2. add onions, chili(es), and chana dal. (I like to put my chopped onion in the microwave for 4 minutes first. Saves a lot of cooking time.) I put in my chilis until I could smell them (about 30 seconds), then the chana dal until it became aromatic, and then added the onions. Fry these until the onions are soft. You could sprinkle some salt on them, to bring out their flavor.
  3. Add cabbage, salt, and turmeric (and coconut, if you're using it). You'll probably have to add the cabbage a little at a time. I added mine one quarter at a time, until it was reduced down enough. Stir toward the middle of your skillet, trying to mix the onion mixture into the cabbage, and to spread out your salt and turmeric. (The turmeric adds an interesting color!) Just keep stirring and adding cabbage until you have it all in there.
  4. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until the cabbage is very wilted, not crunchy. I think it takes about 20 minutes.
Serve hot with rice or chapatis. (You could probably use pita bread.)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Broccoli Slaw (Or how to get Daniel to eat vegetables)

Ann asked for this recipe--I'm sorry it's taken so long to get it on here! There are several variations of broccoli slaw. Mine is very simple--4 ingredients.

Ingredients

1 pkg broccoli slaw (or rainbow salad)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 to 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
About one cup of Marzetti refrigerated slaw dressing, either original or light--I've never measured this, but I think I use about 1/3 of a jar.

Directions

Mix all of above in a large bowl. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Like I said, there are a bunch of variations. We Meadors generally like this one, but when Jamie is here, we leave out the almonds. Love to all, and God bless.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

crock pot bbq

ok most of the meadors got to try this recently, but it was less than my best, so i'll post here so you can try it for yourself.

1 chuck roast( 2.5lbs - 3lbs)look for one with lots of marbling; those streaks of fat otherwise known as cow cellulite, it makes the roast more tender.
1 yellow onion
1-2 cups of bbq sauce (i use kc masterpiece)
1 can of dr. pepper

chop your onions and put in the bottom of the crock pot. I chop mine fine usually, but roughly chopped works well too.

Place your chuck roast on top of the onions and cover with the bbq sauce. use your best judgement. i used 1 cup the first time and wanted more the next time.

gently pour the dr pepper over the roast.

cook on low for 9 hours. your supposed to be able to cook it on high for 5 hrs, but i didn't have great luck with it.

after the 9 hrs pull the roast from the liquid that has accumulated in the crockpot( save the liquid it comes in real handy later)

with two forks shred roast. i usually take a little of the juice in the crockpot and a little more bbq sauce and mix it all up good.

serve on buns

My Mommy's Meatloaf

I played around with my mom's meatloaf recipe until I came up with this one that I like a lot. In fact, we had it for dinner last night. And it's really easy, so there's no reason why a non-cooking type person (you know who you are) couldn't make it, too!

My Mommy's Meatloaf

2 lbs ultra-lean ground beef (or chicken, or turkey)
1 can cream of something soup (I used mushroom last night)
1 cup rolled (non-instant) oats
1/4 cup dehydrated onions
2 large eggs
garlic powder to taste
italian seasoning to taste
dash black pepper

Normally I would also include a dash of salt, but the cream of whatever soup has lots of sodium in it to begin with!

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Put onions in small custard bowl and add just enough hot water to remoisten. Set aside.

Keep plenty of paper towels on hand for this one! (There's lots of mixing by hand!)

In large mixing bowl, combine meat, soup, eggs. Squish together with your bare hands until all items are well mixed. Dump in the oats, squish with hands some more until well mixed. Add in onions, squish with hands more until well-mixed. Add your spices and - you guessed it - squish with hands until well mixed.

For a large loaf, shape ingredients into large loaf pan (approximately 9 x 5 x 3 inches - glass or metal works). Some people like to make a pretty pattern on the top of the loaf with ketchup. I chose not to . Cook for about 1 1/4 hours.

Or, if you want to divide into two smaller loaves, you can use two smaller loaf dishes and cook for only about 45-60 minutes.

Just to be safe, though, cut through the middle and check done-ness before serving. You don't want the meatloaf to "moo" at you!

P.S. Left-over meatloaf makes YUMMY cold-meatloaf sandwiches the next day!!!

I'm Really Sleepy, But it's Too Hot for Coffee!

What do you get when you combine a desperate need for megadoses of caffeine with outside temperatures too hot for regular coffee, and mix in the fact that Frappaccinos are too expensive? An easy iced coffee mix!

Brew a pot of your favorite coffee blend, but make it stronger than you would normally. (I usually use one heaping teaspoon of coffee grounds for each cup of coffee I intend to make. I generally use two different types of coffee grounds though - half regular coffee grounds and half French Vanilla coffee grounds. But for this recipe, I make it stronger, so I add an additional two heaping teaspoons of the French Vanilla grounds)

In a large-ish pitcher, combine milk (or non-dairy creamer) to taste, Splenda (or sugar) to taste, and ice cubes. Pour hot coffee over top. Stir (or shake with lid on) well. Add water (or more milk) to fill up pitcher.

Drink and enjoy!

Some of you may think this is gross, but my need for caffeine has driven me to it!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cape Cod Salad with Tomato-Cucumber Relish-type Stuff

My mother-in-law, God bless her, is thoroughly English in every way--13 traceable generations so. While we were visiting, she made a tuna salad that was rather tasty, but also devoid of any color whatsoever.

I like color in my food (must be the Food Network junkie in me), so I played with the recipe tonight to hit a combination Tom and I loved. Even CJ ate most of his plate! So, in honor of my MIL and her inspiration, I call this Cape Cod Salad. Very nice, light, summer-type dish, and it reminds me of eating out on the deck during sunset with a nice breeze.

Salad:
1/2 lg onion, diced.
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and shredded (when working with just one carrot, I like to use my peeler in short strokes to shred rather than dig out my grater)
2 6oz. cans solid white albacore tuna, drained
1 12oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/4 c (approx) Italian dressing (whatever kind you like).
Salad greens of your choice.

Combine onion, celery, and carrot in large bowl. Add drained tuna and beans. Add mayonnaise and dressing, toss with spatula to combine. Serve on bed of greens or in individual lettuce leaves. Goes great with crackers; serves 4-6.

Tomato-Cucumber Relish-type Stuff:
1/4 - 1/3 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
2-3 ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into bite size wedges
1t salt
1/2 c water
black pepper
olive oil
vinegar (red wine or balsamic recommended)
garlic powder (optional)

Dissolve salt into cold water with fingers until completely dissolved; add cucumber slices and place bowl in fridge to chill. Note: My MIL says this will eliminate any burping from eating the cucumbers. I wasn't certain until I ate cucumbers without doing this once and had horrible hiccup-like burping shortly after.

Place tomatoes in another bowl and add a pinch of salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and garlic powder. Add about 1 - 2t of olive oil (enough to coat tomatoes) and a splash of vinegar. Cover bowl and shake to emulsify oil and vinegar. Drain cucumber slices and add to tomatoes; shake or stir to combine.

Serve tomato-cucumber mixture on top of salad or on the side.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Raspberry-lime granita

Remember those blueberries I asked for ideas about? Well, I ended up making blueberry pancakes, eating a bunch of them straight (yum, yum, yum) and freezing the rest. Then I bought more today, just for eatin'.

But I found a use for one of the limes: granita!! It's like sorbet only easier. Here's what you do:

1. Buy a fresh pint of raspberries, prefereably locally, because then the flavor is better.
2. Stick them in a blender for a few seconds.
3. Mash the pulp through a strainer to get the seeds out. You'll have about a cup of thick juice.
4. Add the juice of one small lime.
5. Make sugar syrup by heating 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water together until the sugar is dissolved.
6. Add the sugar syrup to taste (you might not need all of it, depending on how sweet the berries were to begin with), stir, and put in a shallow container with a lid. Freeze for a couple hours until it's frozen.
7. Spoon into dainty little bowls (or big ugly ones, it doesn't really matter) and enjoy on a hot day.

I wager this works well with other fruit. I would try strawberries and lime, cooked tart cherries and lemon, peaches and lemon, blackberries and peaches...you get the idea.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Mamaw's never-fail pot roast

I don't own a crock pot, but I assume this would work in one. My secret here is patience and a heavy pan, like a cast iron stock pot. I use my Mamaw's old heavy aluminum roasting pan, being careful never to use an acidic food like tomato in it.

Another thing is, I don't use onion soup mix. I guess one could, but onion soup mix is mostly dehydrated onion and dehydrated soy sauce anyway.


One roast (beef or pork). I buy the cheapest cut because this recipe will tenderize just about any cut of meat. I've even used it with venison with rave reviews. With this recipe, it isn't the meat or the cut of meat that makes the meal-its the add-ons and method. You can also put a roast straight from your freezer in there without thawing first.

1/2 cup soy sauce

2-3 tablespoons dehydrated onion

A teaspoon or so of Mrs. Dash (or a heavy sprinkling of black pepper)

Fresh or frozen stew veggies (canned ones fall apart and taste too bland). If FRESH, put in pan with roast at least an hour before suppertime. If frozen, 30 minutes.

Put the onion, seasoning, and soy sauce in the pan. Add the meat, and fill with water just to where it covers the roast. Cook at 275-300 degree oven for 6-8 hours. Add veggies as per instructions above.

I serve this with rice and yeast rolls. The juice makes a wonderful gravy, and an even better beef stew the next day.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

BLT salad

Easy, cheap, cool, and yummy


One container of REAL bacon bits
One can diced tomato or one cup diced fresh Roma tomato
Half a head of shredded and chopped lettuce
Mayo or Miracle Whip to taste/texture

Drain tomato WELL if canned, seed tomato if fresh.

Combine all ingredients, serve as a sandwich filling or with crackers

*real bacon bits are nearly fat-free, and cheaper than pre-fried slices or frying it from fresh bacon. A LOT less messy, too

** sometimes, I add diced purple onion or some diced apple

Don't try this on the road

Since we are about ready to leave, believe it or not, on a trip to Nashville, I am thinking about cooking on the road. Mainly because I'm hungry and it's lunch time, I guess.

We had a memorable experience with attempted car cooking once. David knew the motor got hot when we rode, not overheated, just hot, so he put a dutch oven full of a dish we call goulash into the motor compartment of the car. All he wanted to do was heat the dish up, since he had cooked it the night before and kept it in the refrigerator overnight. We were going on a picnic at Natural Bridge, and he thought the goulash would be good to eat.

Guess what. Despite the fact that Natural Bridge is at least 60 (and maybe more--I don't have anyone here to ask about the distance) miles from our house, and despite the fact that the motor does get hot, the dish was not warmed up by the time we were ready for lunch. It was still pretty cold.

Nowadays I enjoy good food cold, (matter of fact, our motto is "If it was good to start with, it will still be good cold") but at that time, the whole thought was repulsive. I don't remember what we ate, but I do remember that the cooking experiment did not work.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Spinach Pizza!

The dough:
Put 2 cups of all-purpose or bread flour in a bowl.
Add 1 TBSP yeast, 1 tsp salt, 2 TBSP olive oil.
Stir in 3/4 cup warm water and knead into a soft dough, about 5 minutes.
Let dough rise until double. On a warm, humid summer day, this won't take very long.

The topping:
Meanwhile, chop a couple generous handfuls of fresh spinach. I'm not sure how much I actually used, but it was probably between 2 and 3 cups.
Chop an 8 oz block of feta cheese (or try fresh mozzerella if feta is too strong for your taste) into 1/2" cubes and toss with 2 TBSP olive oil and a crushed clove of garlic (or two cloves, depending on how much you like garlic).

When the dough is ready, spread it out on a small (9x12) cookie sheet. Spread the chopped spinach on the dough, followed by the garlic feta chunks. Bake at 425 until the cheese is toasted and brown, the pizza crust is golden, and you can smell the roasting garlic.

My first post isn't a recipe!

Instead, my first post is a request!

What would you do if you had a big ol' box of delicious fresh blueberries (because they're coming in ripe from Michigan) and a big ol' bag of limes (because it was only a dollar at the fruit stand)? Blueberry-lime sorbet? Blueberry limeade? Lime cheesecake with blueberries on top?

Can you Dream about Cake for Breakfast?

Two big pieces, just for me!

(I love that song, Cake for Breakfast, from the Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? cd Out of This World. I picked it out as my birthday present at Big Lots, about three years ago, and my friend Binky bought it. Yay Binky. It also contains a very educational song about the sun, I think by They Might Be Giants.)

I love cake for breakfast. Today I'm having brownies, from the recipe on the side of the Nestle Cocoa carton. Two days ago, it was cookies (no bake cookies).

Tonight we are making Daniel's favorite indian food: wait for it.....chicken byriani. I'll be sure to post this recipe later. But right now I'm going to make brownies!

Can you dream it wild and sweetly?

Yummy Hot-Weather Recipes

If you're like me, you don't want to eat a lot of hot food during hot weather. Seems like cold food goes down so much better and keeps you cool from the inside out. So here's a couple of my favorite hot-weather foods.


Gringo Gazpacho

Normally, gazpacho is a type of cold vegetable soup of latino origin. Well, I'm a gringa (whitey), so I don't do it the way you're supposed to. I prefer to make it as a type of salad that tastes so good and is so refreshing on a hot day. It's really easy, but the blending of flavors is absolutely delicious!

How much of the ingredients you need depends on how much you want to make. It also depends on your personal preferences. So I won't list amounts, I'll just list the ingredients. You can experiment until you figure out how you like it.

Fresh large slicing tomatoes
Fresh medium-sized cucumbers
Fresh medium-sized vidalia (yellow) onion (we only use about half an onion)
Fresh mix of large yellow, red and green bell peppers (or you can use just green - they're cheaper!)
Bottle of Kraft Raspberry Vinaigrette Light Dressing (you can also experiment with other types of vinaigrette. We like this one best, as it's slightly sweet and really sets off the flavors in the veggies)

Peel cucumbers and core the peppers. Then chop all the veggies into chunky pieces. We usually chop them into roughly bite-sized pieces. If they are too small, it takes forever to chop them, then you don't get the crunching satisfaction when you bite in. If you chop them too large, it's too much work on your mouth. You be the judge of what you're comfortable with.

Add all chopped veggies into a large plastic bowl - preferably one with a lid. Then pour dressing over top. Don't add too much, as it will drown out the flavor of the veggies. Don't use too little, either. A good rule of thumb for us is to pour until you can see the dressing about halfway up the veggies. Of course, that rule doesn't work if the bowl isn't see through. Again, use your own judgement. Then add a dash of salt. Put lid on bowl and "shake shake shake - shake shake shake - Shake your booty"! Oh, sorry, I was channelling KC and the Sunshine Band there for a second.

Anyway, the salad is really good right then, but it's even better if you put it in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors blend. It's even better tasting the second day. However, in my house we usually have trouble making it last until the second day. By nightfall, it's usually gone!

I've been told by a former co-worker that this is really good another way, too. She made it but only used tiny splash of dressing. She let it sit in the fridge while she baked some chicken breasts and some garlic french bread. She sliced the chicken breasts and put them on top of the garlic french bread. Then she covered it in some shredded mozzarrella and put it back in the oven until the cheese got gooey. Then she took it out and spooned some of the gazpacho on top. She said it was the best thing she had eaten in a long time. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure I will!


My Granny's Special Tuna Salad Recipe

When I was little, every time I'd go see Granny, she'd have her special tuna salad made and ready for me. She made it for me once, and I happened to comment that it was the best tuna salad I'd ever had. Well, after that, she made sure she had some every time we came to visit. Isn't that sweet? I miss her.

Anyway, her tuna salad was different from any other I'd ever had. It was smooth, and creamy, and just melted on your tongue. It wasn't until after she died that I got the recipe and figured out why it was so much better than anything else I'd ever had!

1 can tuna in water
1 baked potato
miracle whip
boiled eggs to taste
sweet pickle relish to taste

My granny would take the baked potato and mash it until it was smooth as butter. Then she would take the can of tuna, drain it, and put the tuna in a bowl. She'd then mash the tuna with a fork until it was as smooth as the potato. Then she'd put them in the same bowl. She'd mash the boiled eggs until they were smooth, too. Then she'd put them in the bowl. Then she'd add some miracle whiple and the pickle relish to her taste. Then she'd mash it all again with her fork until it was just so creamy. She wrote on the recipe card to taste periodically until it "felt right" in her mouth. A great thing about this recipe is that the potato stretches out the tuna salad so it makes more and lasts longer. Everytime I eat this, I think of my granny!





Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Most Prized Possessions

Most people, at a casual glance, would consider my most prized possessions to be little more than trash. They stand on my kitchen counter, battered sentinels on watch until it's time to recreate the warmth and love of my youth. Tenderly, gently I part the yellowing pages, looking for my mother's favorite meat loaf recipe, or instructions on how to make the most tender pot roast. As I turn the pages, I see all the places where my mother penciled in new or crossed out ingredients. It may have originally been Better Homes and Gardens' cookbook, but my mother made it her own over the years. I have to be very careful with it, as the hole-punched pages have ripped over the years and are trying to slip completely out of the three-ring binding. Some pages are missing altogether - I shudder to think how many warm, fragrant lost memories those missing pages represent.

Beside the BHG cookbook is a cheesy-looking, bright aqua-blue recipe book. It's one of those where you write down your recipes or cut them out of a magazine and stick them in the plastic sleeves on the pages. This is where I have my mother's pumpkin bread recipe, her homemade vegetable soup canning instructions and even my grandmother's jam cake and caramel icing recipe. There are even some recipes from my great-grandmother. Here is my history - here is the love the Goldey and Pierratt women have given to their families over the generations. Many people think these recipes were only for filling the stomach. But I know they were really filling our hearts.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New and Improved Parathas, aka Whack A Mole

Okay, at my house we call parathas chapatis. Don't be confused. It'll be alright. Daniel grew up on parathas, so I make those for him. They call them chapatis, though. I'll put recipes from the pink book for both chapatis and parathas, though I'll only include our notes on parathas. (These recipes are from that same pink book I introduced you to in the black eye peas recipe--"greatest ever indian: easy and delicious step-by-step recipes",parragon publishing. I'm quoting the book in pink.)

chapatis
serves five-six

generous 1 1/3 cups whole-wheat flour (urid dal flour [ata] or chapati flour), plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
generous 3/4 cup water

1. Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the salt and mix well.
2. Make a well in the center of the flour and gradually pour in the water, mixing well with your fingers to form a supple dough.
3. Knead the dough for 7-10 minutes. Ideally, let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes, but if time is short roll out the dough straightaway. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal-size portions. Roll out each piece of dough on a well floured counter.
4. Place a heavy-bottom skillet on a high heat. When steam begins to rise from the skillet, reduce the heat to medium.
5. Place a chapati in the skillet and when the chapati begins to bubble turn it over. Carefully press down on the chapati with a clean dish towel or a wooden spatula and turn the chapati over once again. Remove the chapati from the skillet and keep warm while you make the others.
6. Repeat the process until all of the chapatis are cooked.

Cook's Tip
Ideally, chapatis should be eaten as they come out of the skillet, but if that is not practical keep them warm after cooking by wrapping them up in foil. In India, chapatis are sometimes cooked on a naked flame, which makes them puff up. Allow about 2 per person.

Parathas
makes twelve

generous 2 cups whole-wheat flour (urid dal flour [ata] or chapati flour), plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
salt
2 tbsp ghee, melted

Cook's Tip
Press each paratha down gently with a spatula or flat spoon while you are cooking it to make sure that it cooks evenly on both sides.

1. Sift the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flours and add 2 teaspoons of the ghee. Rub it into the flour with your fingertips, then gradually knead in enough cold water to make a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
2. Divide the dough into 12 equal-size pieces and roll into balls. Keep covered the balls that you are not working on, to prevent them drying out. Roll out a ball of dough on a lightly floured counter to a 4-inch/10-cm circle and brush with ghee. Fold in half, then brush with ghee again and fold in half once more. Either shape into a ball and roll out to a 7-inch/18-cm round or roll into a 6-inch/15-cm triangle. Repeat with the remaing balls, stacking the parathas interleaved wtih plastic wrap.
3. Heat a heavy-bottom skillet or griddle pan. Add 1-2 parathas at a time and cook for 1 minute, then flip over with a spatula and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Brush with ghee and flip back to the first side and cook until golden. Brush with ghee, then flip over again and cook until golden. Keep warm whie you cook the remaining parathas in the same way.


Ok. Now from me. Daddy always said "Everything's easy if you know how and have the right stuff."
My tools (the "right stuff"):
  • a big flour-able space for rolling out the parathas (I use a big wooden cutting board)
  • a rolling pin (wine/sparkling grape juice bottles work well, maybe better)
  • your container of flour (so you can keep sprinkling the chapatis, the board, the rolling pin, and your hands)
  • some water (maybe a cup and a half)
  • salt
  • olive oil (we use this instead of ghee, and we keep it in a mustard/ketchup type bottle, and that rocks my world.)
  • a bowl for the dough
  • a plate or something to put the chapatis on when you get them formed, to carry them to the stove (seems obvious, but i always used to forget this when I started.)
  • a skillet or something to fry them on
  • a spatula or something (I have some silicone coated ones--some from Wal-Mart, one from Big Lots. All good, all cheap.)

I know this is a lot of detail, but, hey, what if you actually decide to make them?

(I'm rewriting this whole procedure part, after feeding some stiff chapatis to my family. I was trying to make four for each of us (that's 20), and they got stiff before they got to the table. Daniel called his mommy for some tips, and also watched me making them one day. He said I had unnecessarily turned it into an art, but it was actually much simpler. So here's the new and improved (and easier) process.)

My procedure (the "know how"):
  • Rub a few drops of oil into your hands to keep them from sticking to your dough.
  • Scoop out some flour into a bowl, maybe four cups. I just use chapati flour, I don't mix it with anything else, and we don't sift it.
  • Sprinkle some salt over the surface, then stir it around and do it again (that's how much we've found to be about right.)
  • Shake your bowl a little so all the flour's together, then stick your finger in the middle and wiggle out a little well, and pour some water in there. Whack your hand around in there a little until that water's all absorbed, then make another little wiggle well and pour more water, until you've got a lump of dough there instead of a puddle in some flour.
  • Then pick the lump up and squeeze it into a sort of ball, squirt a few drops of oil on it, then squeeze it in your hands for a while, until it's a smooth ball, maybe about 5" in diameter (or so).
(Usually, we eat these straight from the skillet, so we don't let the dough rest--we're not worried about them staying soft. But if it's going to be a few minutes, like, the time it takes to cook the rest of the chapatis, then maybe you'll want to let the dough rest for a half hour at this point. Otherwise, forge ahead. If you don't cover the bowl in plastic wrap, the surface might darken a little, so just re-knead it for a few seconds. If you leave it uncovered too long, the outside will dry up. That's gross. If you cover it, you can leave it for a few hours. If you want to leave it til the next day, stick it in the fridge (or it'll get stinky). Then pop it in the microwave when you're ready to use it, for about 30 seconds, just to get it back to room temp. Then re-knead it for a few seconds, and then forge ahead.)

  • Tear off about a handful and make a little ball in your hand, and then sqeeze it into a little disk, and then dip it in your flour on both sides and set it on your board (or other surface). Maybe sprinkle a little more flour on there.
  • Now roll it out, picking it up and moving it around some, until it's a big disk, not so thin that it's becoming one with your cutting board. Maybe it'll be a big 9 or 10 inch circle now, about 1/16" thick or so.
  • Now squirt a drop or two of oil in the middle, and spread it around with your fingers into the dough disk.
  • Fold it in half, and fold it in half again. Now it's a little quarter circle.
  • Roll this out in all directions so that it's a bigger triangle thing about the size of a modern dinner plate. (Daniel thinks it looks like a lamb's head at this point.) You might want to make sure it's small enough to fit on your griddle pan or skillet. We've recently started using a large electric skillet for this purpose, which works superbly at about 275 degrees.
  • Anywho, then put that one on your carrying plate and keep making chapatis until your dough ball ceases to exist. You might want to sprinkle some flour on the plate and on each chapati so they don't stick together, or you could use plastic wrap. I find plastic wrap to be a shooting pain in the star anise.
  • If you're using the stove top, heat your pan as high as you can (you know, for non-stick, don't go higher than medium high), and then turn it back down to medium once it's hot. Or turn on your electric skillet till it's hot. Put a little oil on there. Slap your first chapati on there, and when the bubbles (or big bubble) come(s), press it, until the whole thing has bubbled, or so. Then turn it over and do the other side. It just takes maybe one minute to do a whole chapati.
  • Eat it right away if you haven't let your dough rest, or let your buddy eat it right away, and then keep making them and eating them. Otherwise, you can set them on a plate as you make them, and then eat them. :0)
Yumm. And for some reason, they fill me up. About two or three this size, per person, is enough for breakfast, by themselves, or for supper with some curry. I love cabbage curry with chapatis. Also, you can freeze them after you've rolled them out, just wrap them in plastic wrap and stick them in a freezer bag, then take them out and stick em frozen on the skillet when you're ready to eat them. You can buy them that way, too.

I think the whole process takes about 20 minutes, start to finish, but I'm pokey.

This is my very favorite thing about making chapatis/parathas:
Making chapatis/parathas is like playing "Whack A Mole." When you press out an air bubble, it just kind of moves to the other side of the chapapti, and then you press it there, and more start popping up everywhere. I LOVE Whack A Mole. It's my favorite arcade game. I used to play it at Chuck E Cheese-type places. I only like that game, Duck Hunt, and ski ball (thanks, Jennifer). It brings me great joy.

I bet these would be awesome with butter instead of oil.

Black Eye Peas (not the band)

This is a modification of the first recipe I posted on my blog. I made it again tonight (haven't eaten it yet), and did it a little differently. Daniel's already eaten some of it, and he says it's good. For one thing, I used a LOT less oil than last time.

You can eat this with chipatis or with rice. The first time, we had it with chipatis, and it was real real good. Tonight we're having it with rice. This reminds me; I think I'll post a recipe for chipatis next.

This recipe is from the book "greatest ever indian: easy and delicious step-by-step recipes" (parragon publishing). I like that book so much. I don't remember where I found it. It must've been cheap, though. It's full of great recipes, easy to follow and well-indexed, not to mention the fact that the cover is hot pink and the title is in all lower case. i just like that.

I'll try to post a picture soon.

Here are the original ingredients, straight from the book. I'll tell you what I did differently at the end.

black-eye peas

serves four
scant 1 cup dried black-eye peas
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 onions, sliced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh gingerroot
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2/3 cup water
2 fresh red chilies, cut into strips
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice

1. Rinse the black-eye peas under cold running water, then soak in a bowl of water overnight.
2. Place the black-eye peas in a pan of water and bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Drain the beans thoroughly and reserve.
3. Heat the oil in a separate pan. Add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the ginger, garlic, chili powder, salt, ground coriander, and ground cumin and stir-fry the mixture for 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the water to the pan, then cover and cook until all of the water has completely evaporated.
5. Add the boiled black-eye peas, red chilies and cilantro to the beans and stir to blend together. Stir-fry the bean mixture for 3-5 minutes.
6. Transfer the black-eye peas to a serving dish and sprinkle over the lemon juice. Serve hot or cold.

So that's the recipe from the book, but here are my notes on it (I'll number my notes to correspond with the number of their corresponding steps)

1. Last time I used two cans of black-eye peas; this time I used one bag of frozen.
2. This part, I did the same, even though the bag said to boil the water and then add the frozen peas.
3. The first time I made this, I thought, "That seems like a ridiculous amount of oil!" As it turned out, it was. This time, I just squirted some oil around the pan before I added the onions. I had to add a couple more squirts after adding the spices. Alsoo, I covered the skillet so the onions didn't splatter oil everywhere. If you're not used to spicy, I wouldn't use this much red pepper and add red peppers later. I'd pick one or the other. Oh, this is important: in indian recipes, when it says "chilli powder," it means "red pepper." (Powdered chillis. Not like Bloomer's chilli powder.)
4. I didn't cover the pan for this step, because, how would the water evaporate?
5. Once again, our cilantro was nasty, so we threw it out. Again, like last time, I used dried red chili peppers, because we never have fresh ones. I just break em up and toss em in there, but we don't eat them.
6. I forgot the lemon juice last time and didn't miss it. So far, I forgot it this time, too. I'll get around to it before we eat.

We both really liked this recipe last time. When Daniel came home and saw what I was cooking, he gave me a pat on the back.

I had painful gas cramps the next day last time. I read recently in "YOU: The Owner's Manual" (an entertaining and informative book about the human body) that soaking dried beans overnight breaks down the junk that causes you to get gas. Just make sure you drain them and use fresh water before you cook them. But in my house, we like to get gas.

Becca's Pantry Clearing Pasta

This was originally posted in the comments section on my blog, and I copied it over here. Let me know, Becca, if there's anything in any way funky about that. I got your back.

OK. Depending on tastes, here's a meatless, non-dairy pasta recipe I did last night. I call it "Pantry Clearing Pasta" since the idea is to toss in veggies and such lying around.

1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 bag frozen sugar snap peas (about 4 oz)
2 tomatos, seeded and diced
6-8 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
olive oil
canola oil
balsamic vinegar
salt
pepper
oregano
1 box pasta (penne, rotini, farfalle, whatever)

Set pot of water to boil for pasta.

Set saute pan on medium heat and cover bottom of pan with olive oil. Add canola oil so ratio of olive to canola is 2:1. Add about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. After oil is hot, add onion and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. After onions begin to soften, add carrots. After carrots begin to soften, add garlic. Sweat for 2-3 minutes, add tomato and oregano (to taste).

After stirring and simmering another 1-2 minutes, add sugar snap peas and kalamata olives.

Add pasta when water boils. Let sauce cook on low till pasta is al dente.

Drain pasta--do not rinse. Add pasta back to pot and pour sauce, toss to coat (If your saute pan is large enough, add pasta to pan and toss to coat). Serve as-is or add Parmesan to taste.

That's it. I usually don't prep ahead, but prep an ingredient, add it, and move to the next--the timing works out. And it's flexible--add or substitute mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, green beans--combine whatever is on hand. Also great to add leftover chicken if you have it. Overall, takes 20-25 minutes--however long to bring the water to boil and cook the pasta.

Tuna Fish Casserole

I don't know what a casserole is, really, or if this actually qualifies, but it was my favorite meal growing up, and I could even cook it. It's what I always made if I had to cook supper. I even used it for a "how to" speech in high school, in all sincerity. People were like, "Are you serious?" I had no idea why they thought I was kidding. Now I do...it's too easy.

Ingredients:
1 box of pasta, any kind you want. I used rotini or bow ties a lot, but we started with shells, I think. The shells caught the other ingredients and made it harder to mix, though. I think it'd be weird with noodly pasta like spaghetti or linguini or something, but you could try it.

1 can of cream of celery soup, or any other cream of anything soup

1 can of chunk white tuna packed in water

Procedure:
Cook the pasta, following the directions on the box. (Who doesn't know how to cook pasta?)
Drain the pasta.
Mix in the other stuff.

Sometimes we'd season it with a few shakes of red pepper, but that was it. I like Campbell's 99% fat free cream of celery soup. You could use whatever spcies you wanted. I sometimes used some cumin (cause it's my favorite), or some celery salt (cause I thought it'd go well with the cream of celery soup). Really, I thought it always tasted the same, probably because of the overpowering tuna flavor.

I still like it. It's comfort food for me. Daniel hates it. I think it'd be good with canned chicken, too, or salmon. In fact, I think I made it with cream of chicken once and canned salmon, and it was good.

Bubba and Sippy, do you like it, or do you think it's gross? Just curious.

In my house, we probably ate it with Del Monte green beans (with a little butter and red pepper).

A Little Hint...

Okay, here's a little hint for all our contributing chefs out there:

[hmm ahem!] The purpose of this blog is for us to swap recipes and food-type talk. We can't do that if there are no recipes or food-related items posted to the blog.

[shuffling of papers as she steps away from the podium]
Thank you. I'm excited about this project! So please feel free to post recipes and stuff, even if you don't think some of us may like it. PLEASE POST! I need new recipes to try for when Jamie comes home. I'm sick of my usual stuff!

Love and hugs to all! :-)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Indian Spices

The indian recipes I'll post use lots of spices, many of which you probably already have (cumin, chilli powder, black pepper corns, cinamon sticks, cloves...). The rest can be found at any Indian grocery, and probably most international food stores and Asian food stores. Sometimes it's a good idea to buy your spices from stores like these, because lots of times they're cheaper. But a lot of them come in large quantities. So you can share with somebody, or just store some in small containers to use when you cook, and the rest in an air tight container out of the way. Sometimes it's enough of a bargain that you could toss all the excess and still have saved money.

I mention this becuase Jennifer asked about asoefatida. ( This article on the stinky spice falls into the "tmi" category; I find the fifth paragraph very entertaining.) I think you could just leave it out of everything, and it would be ok. Maybe it's just supposed to bitter things up a tiny bit, just for balance. I bet it's the same concept as adding salt to deserts, only not as necessary.

Wash Day Cobbler

Summer time makes me think of warm cobbler right out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top! Yummmmm.....

1 - 16 oz. can of fruit (or canned pie filling)
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick of margarine
dash of salt
2 tbsp of baking powder

Heat can of fruit over medium heat until gently bubbling. Place stick of margarine in 2 quart glass baking dish. Put dish in oven while oven preheats to 450 degrees (this melts the margarine for you)

Mix 1 cup of the sugar with milk, flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Once margarine is melted, remove glass baking dish from oven. Pour contents of bowl into baking dish. Spoon heated fruit into mixture relatively evenly across whole dish. DO NOT STIR CONTENTS ONCE IN DISH. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over entire top of concoction.

Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Let cool until only warm, spoon ice cream on top and eat up!

If you want a lower-fat and calorie version, substitute light fruit or pie filling instead of regular (the syrup in regular canned items adds LOTS of sugar!) skim milk instead of regular milk, Blue Bonnet Light Margarine instead of regular margarine and Splenda instead of sugar. You cannot taste the difference at all, but it's much better for you!

Spinach Curry, uncharred

You can read about my misadventures with this recipe last night here, on the comments section of Suze's blog. But at the request of Jennifer, I'm gonna post the recipe. She and Jamethan love spinach.

Here's a note for all indian recipes I'm gonna post on this blog. They almost always call for ginger and garlic, so Daniel and I have a jar of "Ginger Garlic Paste" in the fridge, and we usually use an equivalent amount of it, instead of actually mincing the ginger and garlic.

Oh, and on the same token, since most indian recipes we cook require cooking oil, we keep ours in the kind of a bottle you'd use to take mustard/ketchup to a picnic, and just squirt it around the pan. We keep a bottle of Canola and POO or EVOO right by the stove.

My adjustments to the original recipe, found randomly online, are in blue. (As if you couldn't figure that out.)

Ingredients:

1/2 bag washed and ready to eat Spinach......I used a whole bag of frozen
6 big garlic pods.......I used about one garlic pod
1/2 inch ginger
4 TBS tomato puree......I used one plump plumb tomato, a "roma", I think, and chopped it
2 tsp Cumin powder
1 tsp Chilli powder.........most people will want to use less than that
1/2 tsp Garam Masala.......this is basically just a spice mixture, and can be bought or made
1 pinch of Asafoetida
1 pinch Cumin seeds
Salt to taste............I used about a tsp
4 TBS oil............you really just need a little

Method:

1. Chop the spinach. (Obviously, if you use frozen, you can ommit this step.)
2. Grate garlic and ginger. (Same goes here with ginger garlic paste.)
3. Heat oil in a skillet on Medium heat. Add Asafoetida and Cumin seeds.
4. When the seeds start to pop ("when it sputters"), add the ginger and garlic.
5. When light brown (less than a minute), add the tomato.
6. When mushy, ("Let fry.") add cumin powder and chili powder. Mix.
7. Add spinach.
8. "When the water from the spinach dries up and the spinach becomes soft", (Fry it til it no longer smells like spinach, maybe 15 or 20 minutes), put the salt and garam masala.
9. Serve hot with roti or rice. (I have no idea what roti is. I guess I could look it up. We used rice.)

Since it just makes about three handfulls of spinach curry, it doesn't work the way americans usually eat entrees. You're not just gonna plop a big glop on your plate and eat it with a fork. It's gotta be mixed with rice to stretch it. Of course, you can still eat it with a fork, and of course you can make more than this and plop it in a big glob if you want to.

Chow Hounds

Okay, so here's the idea. We all love to cook, we all love to eat, we want to exchange recipes. But I found putting recipes into a comments section was a pain in the butt, because then you had to flip around to all the comments to find the different recipes. This way, we all can post on the main page, then write comments about what happened when we tried various recipes, etc (like Ann's stories about the Spinach curry flub-ups). Also, this makes for an easy archive when you want to look up a recipe!

So, shall we Chow Hounds cook?