Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Skillet Fried Potatoes
I love fried potatoes. I personally prefer them to be fried in bacon grease, but that isn’t the way I actually fry them. What you want to look for in good fried potatoes is nice crisp brown potatoes, but no potatoes that are not cooked tender. All the potatoes won’t be brown, but they should all be tender.
Start with about six potatoes. You can peel them, or not. I try to buy potatoes that are very clean to begin with, and that have thin skins. I prefer red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes because the skins are thinner. I don’t peel them unless the skins are hard.
I use an iron skillet. The one in the photo is my grandmother’s square grill cheese skillet. She said she could fit square bread in it better than in a round skillet.
First, spray the skillet with no stick cooking spray. Heat it fairly hot. Then add your oil.
I use about ¼ cup of coconut oil. You can use olive oil if you prefer. Peanut oil works nicely also. Sprinkle salt on the potatoes about like you would on your French fries.
The tricky part is that you want to brown the potatoes without them sticking. If they start sticking, then all the brown winds up stuck to the bottom of the skillet and you just get mushy potatoes.
Fry on medium heat. If you are using coconut oil remember that it cannot get too hot. If you are using olive oil or peanut oil, you can fry them a little faster, but you will have to watch them more carefully. Do not turn them over until they are nice and brown on the bottom. I always use a metal spatula for turning the potatoes and peeking to see if they are brown enough to turn. A metal spatula is best to get loose any errant potatoes that may decide to stick to the pan. You will have to turn them several times before they are done. You can leave them unattended briefly, but you do have to watch them fairly closely.
If your potatoes start to stick, you can add a little more oil.
I like to fry them without a lid because I like the brown ones to be crisp. However, if someone in your family needs them to be softer, then you can put a lid on them when they are as brown as you like. They will soften up fairly quickly. If you leave the lid on the skillet all the time, the potatoes will be more likely to stick.
Sometimes my mom will fry a few slices of bacon, chop them up finely and add that to the potatoes.
If you think, ‘Oh my – fried potatoes are to fattening for me.’ consider the last time you had French fries when you were eating out somewhere. Pan fried potatoes are much less fattening that that. Also, coconut oil is supposed to be good for you. If you are curious, you can read about it at this web site. http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html
Enjoying life does include enjoying at least some of your food.
Have a love day and eat well.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Cooking a beef brisket is super easy. You just basically fling it in the pan, stick it in the oven, and go about your daily chores, or nap, or whatever it is that you want to do or have to do. Check on it every couple of hours to see how it is coming along to make sure it isn't cooking to dry.
Here is the way I do it. First I heat my big iron skillet on top of the stove. I spray a little cooking spray in the skillet, or melt about a teaspoonn of coconut oil. I sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder in the skillet. When it is hot, I put the brisket in the skillet fat side down and brown the fat. Then I flip it over, add a little more salt and pepper to the top, and give it a few minutes to start cooking. I do this to speed up the cooking and because I like the fat on top to have an extra brown to it. If you don't have time to do that, just put it in the pan and stick it in the oven.
I cook mine at approximately 250 degrees for six to 8 hours. If you want it to cook faster, you can give it an hour at 350 degrees, and then turn it down to 250 to finish cooking. The meat is done when it reaches the temperature that you call 'done'. However, brisket needs to cook a long time to really be tender. If I don't have time to cook a brisket most of the day, I will find something that can be cooked in a shorter amount of time.
We had potato salad, corn, and bread with this brisket.
We are also going to have sliced brisket with the natural juice with part of it for another meal.
And we are going to warm the rest and have it with bar-b-que sauce on yet another day.
Remember, if you are planning to use the meat you cook for more than one meal, do not put it all on the table for one meal. Also, only reheat the protion you are using for the next meal. And, if you are not going to use the meat within three days, then you really need to freeze it.
I cooked the brisket this week. We had a meal, it was great.
I will freeze it in two packages. One is for roast beef sandwiches - hot or cold. The other is for barbeque sandwiches, or possible some sort of quick curry. That means I add a little sauce of some sort and serve it over rice or quinoa.
So, cook up a beef brisket; eat a meal; and freeze the rest for a variety of easy meals that can be prepared in a very short amount of time.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
It was a series of eating events that led to cheese toast for supper. It was my night to be lazy. We were supposed to have store bought chicken pot pie for supper, and that particular brand happens to be very good chicken pot pie. They are not as good as my homemade pot pies, but they are good. So, this is what happened. Someone in the house ate chicken pot pie for lunch every day that week, so when I went to the freezer to get out pot pies, there were no pot pies. A few questions to key people in the house, a couple of phone calls to someone at work, and the mystery was solved.
It was sort of a dilemma because we had promised the grandkids that we were staying home that evening and watching movies. It is also a given that we eat at approximately the same time every evening because every single family member tends to get grumpy if they don’t eat on time. There wasn’t anything I could thaw up to cook. So, it was a case of finding something that was available immediately. I looked around the kitchen and there it was, a loaf of bread that was still in date, but not as fresh as I prefer it to be.
I looked in the refrigerator for something to go on the bread, and the only thing that was really there was cheese. I cannot imagine who might like a cheese only sandwich on stale bread. So, cheese toast was the obvious option.
The good news is that cheese toast is actually very tasty, relatively healthy, and super easy.
You need bread and cheese and an oven with a broiler setting.
Bread means any bread that you have on hand, or your favorite bread,.
Cheese means any cheese that you have on hand, or whatever cheese you like.
Put the bread in the oven and toast the top of the bread. It only takes a couple of minutes – so don’t get distracted by anything. If you are working with the last part of a loaf of bread you don’t have the option to burn the first batch.
When the bread is as brown as you like it, remove the pan from the over, flip the bread over, put your sliced cheese on top of the bread, and put it back in the oven.
Watch it closely. When the cheese melts, it is done. Take it out of the oven and eat it while it is hot. If you want something more than just cheese toast, open a can of soup.
If you happen to have ham, toast ham on a slice of bread. When the bread is toasted slap the two slices together and you have a great sandwich.
Don’t confuse cheese toast with a grilled cheese sandwich. That is an entirely different meal.
The toast in the photo was made on gluten free bread for one grandson. The little fingers pinching a bit off the edge of the toast are his.
Ultimately, it was a filling meal. Everyone was satisfied, and we had a very nice evening at home just like we planned.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
This is one of the most versatile meals you can cook. It is great served as a roast like meal, or for bbq sandwiches. I actually prefer this type of beef to almost any other cut of beef. It seems to consistently cook up more tender and flavorful than any other cut.
If you haven't tried it before, you are missing a treat.
Ingredients - 2 or 3 pounds of boneless beef ribs per meal.
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.
Cook in iron skillet (with the lid on) on stove or in oven.
If you cook on the stove top - cook very slowly for several hours until falling apart tender.
If you cook in the oven, cook at 275 or 300 degrees until tender. It will take several hours either way.
I did not add any water because they just seem to cook out enough juice.
Either oven or stove top, you can cook hotter to begin with just to get the meat warm and starting to cook. Then lower the heat so it will cook slowly.
This is a great meal to cook with two or more meals in mind. So, if you want a very easy meal or two in the freezer, buy around 5 to 8 pounds depending on how many people you feed at each meal.
Meal number one is just like a normal roast, but the meat is quite a bit more tender and I think tastier.
To go with the day one meal, you can add potatoes to the meat when it is about half done, or make instant potatoes or whatever you have on hand and your family will eat.
When you serve the meal, just put out whatever amount provides a good serving for everyone eating. It is great with rolls and any vegetalbe. If you put it all on the table at once, people will tend to overeat and you won't have any leftovers to freeze for later.
Take the rest of the meat and pull it apart for bar-b-que. It is easier to thaw up later if it is already pulled apart. If you prefer sliced, then you need to cool it so it will slice more easily. Divide the juice in the pan among the number of meals you are freezing.
When you don't have time to cook or just need a break from cooking, thaw up the meat and serve with your favorite bar-b-que sause, buns, and chips.
I like the meat in bigger and thicker chunks. Sometimes is only available thin sliced. If I can only get the thin sliced, I find it cooks nice, but it takes less time. It is easier to make a skillet meal with meat and potaotes than if it is thick. If I am trying to cook enough for more than one meal, I have to have the thick.
In the photo I did one serving with the meat pulled apart for a bbq sandwich or to eat plain. The potatoes have just a couple of spoonfuls of the juice that cooked out of the meat. The roll is a potato roll. The family is free to make a sandwich or eat with a fork.
I like to give options to the individual when a meal is served, like eating it as a sandwich or a plate meal. The problem with cooking is that the cook often can't even decide what he or she wants to eat for supper, and they sure can't second guess what every family member is going to want for supper that night. So, the more options with a meal, the more likely everyone is to find the meal filling and satisfying.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Bacon Fried Quinoa with Extra Bacon
1 ½ cups of quinoa – give or take a cup or so
6 to 50 slices of bacon – depending on what you have on hand. (I am kidding about that much bacon. If this is the main dish, than whatever amount of bacon your family will eat. If this is not the main dish, then you don't really need any extra bacon. 4 to 6 slices will do nicely.)
2 - 4 eggs, depending on how well you like eggs
First, cut up about 4 to 6 slices of bacon and brown cook them fairly crisp in the skillet. Fling in few green onions if you have them on hand. If you like the flavor of canned green chiles or a favorite picante sauce, then adding a little of that is good as well. You can add extras to the bacon while it is cooking, or add it at the end when you put everything back into the skillet. If you are adding a raw veggie, you better put it in with the bacon so it can cook.
When they are done, remove from skillet and cook the rest of the bacon to however crisp you happen to like it. Remove the bacon from the skillet. Reserve enough bacon grease to grease the clean skillet if you want to and drain the rest onto you pan of dog food. (Dogs love bacon grease.) If you don’t save a little bacon grease, then you will have to use something else like coconut oil or olive oil
when you fry the quinoa.
While the bacon is frying, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them slightly with a fork.
If your skillet is bad to stick, you need to either clean the skillet or get another skillet that is already clean. That sort of depends on who is doing the dishes that night.
Heat your greased skillet to fairly hot and add your cooked quinoa. (I used a cup and a half for this recipe, but you can add more or less, depending on how much you have or how many people are going to be eating the finished dish.) Flip the quinoa around in the skillet until is thoroughly hot and starting to brown. Stir in your bacon crisps. Then drizzle your eggs into the skillet. If you are trying to disguise the eggs for kids that don’t really like eggs, then drizzle them in in very small drizzles. If your family likes eggs, then drizzle them in thick drizzles. Or, just dump them in and stir until they are done.
Put in a plate and surround with the extra bacon.
Now, here are some variations.
First, I like to add green peas to my fried quinoa, but there were no peas in the pantry, and somehow I didn’t think the garbanzo beans would really add much to the dish. If you like peas, or peas and carrots, they look nice in the dish and taste good as well. If you don’t like them, or your family won’t eat them, then don’t waste your money trying to make the dish look better. A few shredded fresh carrots are good to add, and they look pretty as well. I have heard the eye eats before the stomach, but that is only true when are not really hungry and take time to look at the food before you eat it. If a bunch of hungry people sit down at the table at the same time, you have to get your food as fast as good manners will allow, and worry about how it looks later.
This dish was made as a fill in for a meal of leftovers. I could have made more and made a meal of it.
Actually, we had tacos last night, so this will be a filler in case there isn’t enough taco meat to make everyone happy. It makes a nice burrito all by itself. Any bacon fried quinoa leftovers would make someone a nice lunch the next day.
Consider what your family likes and what your budget and time allows. Adapt the dish to suit you. There is a rumor that bacon is not the most nutritious meat available, but I don’t think that has ever been proven.
In the interests of good health, I did not add any salt to this meal, as the quinoa was cooked in chicken stock - so it was already salted. The bacon is salted, and I estimated that would be enough salt.
If you were here, I would invite you to stay for supper.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Oven Roasted Ox Tails
I would have never heard of ox tail soup if my grandmother hadn’t made the soup. I never heard of it being cooked by anyone else. My husband loved it, but I never bothered to fix ox tail anything for a couple of reasons. First, why should I bother when gramma would do? Second, it just sounds a little on the icky side. And third, as it turned out, ox tails are usually more expensive than I care to pay.
But, years have gone by and gramma isn’t around to cook them anymore. They taste so good that I got over the ‘icky’ part. And I still can’t really afford them, but Jerry loves them, so I fix them occasionally.
Here is the fling it in the pan recipe for ox tails, along with a few variations to the recipe.
First, you need 2 to 4 pounds of ox tails. I had 3 pounds for this pan. They seem to be a little thicker than I usually buy, but that is what was available. Anyway, here is the way I cooked this batch of ox tails.
First I sprayed the skillet with cooking spray. Then I heated it pretty hot and sprinkled my salt, pepper, and garlic powder in the bottom of the pan. Then I browned the ox tails. I took them out of the skillet and sliced an onion in the bottom of the pan. You can do your onions two ways. If you want the onion to pretty much dissolve into the juice that cooks out of the meat, then just leave it in the bottom of the pan, and put your meat back in on top of that. Or, you can brown the onion and take it out of the pan. Put the meat back in and put the onion on top of the meat. It gives the dish a different look when it is done, but it pretty much tastes the same.
Next, I put the lid on the skillet and put the meat in the oven at 275 degrees for about 4 hours. Ox tails take a long time to cook to really tender. I added potatoes, and cooked for another couple of hours. It is basically done long when the potatoes and meat are tender. For this batch, I put a few stalks of celery in right at the start because I happened to have celery in the refrigerator. The celery adds a bit of flavor, but it isn’t necessary for the dish to taste really good. You can add carrots if you like them. Or, you can just cook the ox tails all by themselves without any vegetables. They are good with any side dishes, breads, or salads.
Ox tails make a great soup also. You just put them in water or beef broth or both, and boil them. Add a few potatoes, carrots, green beans, or whatever you like to put in soup. If you haven’t tried them before, I think the oven roasted recipe is the best way to start. That will give you a better idea of exactly how the meat tastes. If you have leftovers, which is very doubtful, then you can make soup out of that.
Remember, any recipe is just one cooks idea of how something can be cooked. They probably cook the same dish about ten different ways. Adjust any recipe to suit yourself and your family.
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Monday, January 10, 2011
Chicken and Dumplings
start with a big pan
add 1 quart chicken broth
1 ½ quarts water
raw chicken – I used about 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
bring to boil, and turn down to simmer for about an hour.
(act like you are slaving in the kitchen for this hour, or get another chore done, or just flop on the couch and take it easy.
In about 45 minutes you can get your apples ready to fry if you are going to make fried apples. (See previous blog post for recipe.) If you are just having chicken and dumplings, give yourself another ten minutes. Turn the heat up on the stove to make the chicken soup boil. Then put two or three cups of Bisquick or self rising flour, or some equivalent in a bowl and add milk to make dough sort of similar to biscuits. If you like dumplings 3 cups is a good amount, and if you REALLY like dumplings it might even take four cups. (Or, if you are trying to make a little soup go a long way, then more dumplings will be a good idea.) Then drop by good sized teaspoons into the boiling chicken soup. When all the dumplings are in the pan, turn down heat and simmer for about ten or twenty more minutes. Be careful or it will scorch and you will have to start all over.
This is a very easy meal.
Here are some variations on the dumplings.
You can use a can or two of chicken if you don’t have raw chicken on hand. This where your pantry food will come in handy. If you have a rotisserie chicken from the store, eat half for one meal on Monday and use the rest to make dumplings on Wednesday. You do have to be careful to get all the bones before you add the dumplings. Or, just boil the chicken in chicken stock, and call it chicken soup. Fling in an onion and potato or rice or quinoa if you want a thicker soup. (You can also make a chicken pot pie with half a leftover baked chicken. It is really a cheap meal and quite tasty.)
Now, I know that chicken and dumplings is a really old fashioned dish and practically no one ever eats that anymore. However, dumplings do make a tasty and nutritious meal with very little fuss. They were popular years ago for farm families because chicken was much more readily available than any other meat. Another reason is that in the event that an entire chicken was not eaten, they had to do something with the leftovers. They boiled all the leftover chicken ,with the bones and all, to get all the food value. Then they added the dumplings, and ‘poof’. They had another meal. (Think ‘cartilage repair’ or ‘stop arthritis pain) when boiling bones. Here is a link to a good article on boiling bones. http://www.chiropractic-help.com/Chicken-bones.html )
If you use chicken broth and canned chicken, the ingredients to make this meal can be easily stored in a pantry for a long time. This is a good meal to try out on your family now and see how they like it. If it isn’t a winner the first time, then try it with a slight variation and see if they like it.
Making meals out of stored food just requires a little bit of creativity on the part of the cook.
Recently I was making soup out of a left over roast. When we have a roast, I always freeze the leftovers right after the meal to make soup on Friday nights. Anyway, this time I started with a quart of beef broth. I put it in the iron skillet, and then added a can of tomato paste. I heated that, added some basil, and let it simmer a while because the tomato is supposed to get a little more iron out of the skillet that way. I heard, but can’t prove of course, that cast iron cooking is a good way to help avoid anemia. My entire family seems prone to anemia, so I use iron cookware for almost everything. Anyway, it smelled so good that I had myself a cup. It was quite tasty, and would pass for tomato soup for just about anyone who isn’t addicted to soup out of a can. Besides being tasty, it was gluten free, and free of preservatives or flavor enhancers like MSG. A lot of people could make a meal out of something like that, especially if there were a few crackers to go with it. By the way, WinCo has beef or chicken broth for about $1.50 a quart. That makes it affordable right now. If you watch, it will have a freshness date that is good for a full year. Anyway, the beef broth and tomato paste could be the start of a lot of good recipes. It just requires some creative thinking.
The time to start using food out of your food storage pantry is right now. Of course you need to replace the food you use, but the more you cook with the stored food, the more you know what food to store. If you find you have something stored that no one will eat, what is the point?
It Was a Really Tasty Meal – and Cheap to Boot
by Barbara Henderson
Let’s pretend that…..
You are not in the middle of a disaster…
You don’t need to eat out of a pantry of stored food…
You feel really good….
you just want to have an easy meal that tastes good and is relatively cheap.
Here is an idea.
Fried Apples (The desert recipe is first because I love dessert before and after a meal. I am thinking of starting a ‘dessert first’ club – or maybe just a group on facebook.)
6-8 medium apples sliced and cored but not peeled
½ to 1 stick of butter or some sort of cooking oil
cinnamon to taste
sugar – to taste
Heat skillet and butter
add apples and fry on medium heat until tender
I add the cinnamon while frying because it makes the house smell good
When apples are tender add sugar – probably around a scant ½ cup – but however you like it.
Cook just until sugar is melted
Hide a bowl for yourself later. Then share the rest evenly with the family.
It is good served as just fried apples, or served over plain cake, or over ice cream, or ice cream and cake.
I used fresh apples, but you can also use frozen apples. My mom used to put up bags of apples in the freezer before the black bears broke down all the apple trees. She would fry them by the gallon when she had company. The apples in the photo were Braubern apples. They were on sale for fifty cents a pound at the grocery store. I may go back tomorrow and get some for the freezer. My favorite apple is Fuji, but any apple will work. If you have an apple tree, that is great!
This recipe is for an easy dessert. The next recipe is for chicken and dumplings, which would be the main course. I believe in eating dessert both before and after a meal. Oh, I already said that didn't I.
Well, before you know it, everyone is hungry, or they will be hungry, and you are blessed with food to put on the table. However, you do have to get the food ready to eat.
A simple recipe is stuffed bell peppers. I am going to give you the way I do them, but you should always think of ways you might personalize the recipe and make it a bit more suited to you own tastes and your family.
1 ½ to 2 pounds of hamburger. Buy the best hamburger that you can afford and don’t worry about. If you are really trying to go with grass fed beef or organic, but are finding the price too high, get the amount you can afford. Just plan to add more quinoa or rice to the meat. Keep in mind that that is a just an approximation. If you have more family and less hamburger, then you will need to add more ‘stuff’ to the stretch it to fill everyone’s stomach.
1 cup cooked quinoa or rice. Quinoa (pronounced keenwah) is my choice when available because it is supposed to have a very good balance of vitamins,, minerals, and amino acids. Plus, I just happen to like it better than rice. I usually cook 1 cup of quinoa, which gives me about 1 ½ cups leftover to make fried quinoa the next meal.
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce. You can also use tomato paste or tomato puree.
5 or 6 large bell peppers
First, put the meat in the skillet to brown. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a bit of garlic powder and basil if you happen to like the flavor they add.
Cut your green peppers in half longwise. Cut out the stem. Next cook the peppers to semi soft. I put them in plastic in the microwave and cook them for around 7 minutes. They will be very hot, so try to let them cool long enough to be sure you won’t scald yourself when you take them up.
Put one cup of quinoa in two cups of water or chicken stock and boil until tender – about fifteen minutes. Really, just bring it to a boil and then lower temperature to just simmer.
When the meat is done, add your jar of spaghetti sauce, cover the pan, lower the temperature and simmer for at least fifteen minutes. If your quinoa is done, put in about one cup of that and see how it looks. You can add up to the entire amount you just cooked if you need to feed more people.. If you need to feed fewer people, add less of cooked quinoa or rice..
Arrange your peppers in an oven safe pan with a lid. Fit them as tightly together as possible. Fill each pepper about ¾ full. If you have left over meat, go back and distribute it evenly in the peppers so each one is about the same level of full.
Put the lid on your skillet and put in the oven. Cook for approximately 45 minutes.
Then remove the lid, put parmesan cheese on each pepper to taste – or according to how much cheese is left in the jar. I like it really think when I have plenty of cheese. Put the lid back on the pan and cook about fifteen more minutes. Take into account if some family members like a lot of parmesan cheese or if others don’t like any at all. Shake on cheese accordingly. Also, it may be that most of your family prefers cheddar cheese or mozzarella. Go for it. You aren’t trying to make the cover of a cooking magazine. You are trying to please your own tummy and as many family members as possible at the same time.
Remove from oven and get ready to eat. Because the quinoa or rice and meat are in the dish, you don’t need a lot to go with this meal. If you have salad, that is great. Or, just open a can of your favorite vegetable. Or, just eat more stuffed peppers.
Garlic bread is good with it also.
Stuffed peppers are really a personal taste dish. We like the spaghetti sauce flavor.
Some people only use tomato paste or tomato sauce.
Some people don’t use any sauce at all.
It depends on what you personally have on hand.
Do you have an abundance of eggs?
Cool your meat entirely and stir in a few eggs before putting the meat in the peppers. This gives a firmer set on your meat. You really don’t have to change anything else in the dish.
Or, do you have just a few bell peppers?
Slice peppers in rings or long slices. Layer the pan with meat, peppers, meat, peppers until everything is in the pan. Bake it as usual. This works really well if you have put a few raw eggs in the mix. It bakes up firmer and can be sliced like pie to take it out of the pan and serve it.
Remember, you are not attempting to be labeled as a gourmet cook. You are trying to put something that tastes good and that is affordable on the table at a reasonable time. Most people would rather eat something at a reasonable time than something very fancy after they have been hungry for an extra hour or two. This can be prepared the previous day and just popped into the skillet and oven when you get home, or about an hour before you are ready to eat.
Remember, your body was not made just to eat or just as a fancy rack on which to hang clothes. If you want more time for everything else you have to do and that you want to do, then getting something nutritious and affordable that your family will actually eat on the table is very important. It is also important that you get it on the table at a reasonable hour and with as little effort as possible. Remember, with just a little practice and effort, you can become a ‘fling it in the pan cook’. Your life will be simpler, and your family will be happier.