Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
1 cup your favorite tomato sauce (I like Prego Traditional and it's lowfat, low calorie)
Thursday, May 29, 2008
This is day 3 back on program and I'm feeling light as a feather (okay, that's an exaggeration, but let's say my stomach isn't protruding quite as much as it was 2 days ago). Tonight we're having slimmed down beef fajitas. You could make the Ole Black Bean Soup as an appetizer and serve these with fat free refried beans and not even miss the rice!
BEEF FAJITAS LIGHT
1 package any brand fajita seasoning
2 tsp vegetable or Canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb flank steak (all fat removed)
2 large red peppers
1 large (Vidalia) onion
4 fat free flour tortillas
Optional: 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
Prepare fajita package according to label instructions. Place in large ziploc bag with the flank steak. Turn to coat the beef and marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours (I often do this the day before). Seed the peppers and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Slice the onion into rings. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic. Saute on medium for 1 minute. Add the peppers and onions and saute on low for about 20 minutes, turning to prevent scorching (add jalapenos, if desired). Keep warm. Spray a grill with nonstick spray; remove the steak from the marinade; grill the steak, about 6 minutes on each side for medium-rare. (You can also cook the steak in the broiler, if you prefer.) Transfer meat to a cutting board and let rest about 5 minutes. In the meantime, heat the tortillas--either grill them or place in paper towels in microwave for about 10 seconds. Thinly slice the meat on the diagonal. Fill each tortilla with 1/4 of the steak and about 1 cup of the vegetables. I serve salsa and light sour cream on the side. Guacomole will add additional calories, but it's yummy.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
http://www.jennsylvania.com/. I'll let you know how it is.
My Weight Watcher's journal is out on the counter and I'm ready to get serious. Because of other commitments, I'll do it on my own (READ: get a head start) this week and attend my first (well, not my first first, my first THIS time) meeting next Tuesday. It's a new leader; I hope she's as good as the one I had last time. That one only works on Saturdays and that just didn't work. In honor of my recommitment to a healthy lifestyle, today I'll share one of my favorite chicken recipes. You may have noted that I'm a real fan of this bird. I'll add the photo tonight, so you know I'm really doing this.
1/3 cup hoisin sauce*
1/4 cup white wine or cooking sherry
2 tsp grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs. skinless chicken legs (or thighs, if you prefer)
In a zip lock bag, combine the hoisin sauce, wine, ginger, and garlic, then add the chicken. Squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and refrigerate. Turn the bag a few times while this marinates. I prefer overnight, but a few hours will do. HINT: put bag in a bowl, just in case it leaks!
Preheat the oven to hot (425 degrees should do). Line a baking sheet with foil or use a disposable one. Spray the foil with nonstick spray. Place the chicken legs in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until the legs are browned--about 25 minutes.
OPTIONAL, if you like crunchy stuff: sprinkle the legs with 2 tsp of toasted sesame seeds before serving.
*Hoisin sauce-if you haven't used this, you're in for a treat and will think of lots of other recipes it will enhance. Hoisin sauce is sweet and spicy at the same time. You need to refrigerate it once it's opened. It's readily available in the Chinese section of your supermarket.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Ricotta on the Bottom Cake
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
2 lbs. whole milk ricotta
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 13 X 9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, prepare the cake mix according to package instructions (using the ingredients called for). Pour into the prepared baking panIn another bowl, beat the eggs, then add the ricotta, vanilla, and sugar and mix until well blended. Gently and evenly pour the cheese mixture over the cake batter. Bake about 1 hour. If still moist, turn off the oven and check every 10 minutes with a toothpick until no longer moist. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight for best results--do not eat hot! To serve, dust with confectioner's sugar.
Ole Black Bean Soup
3/4 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs. vegetable or canola oil
4 15 oz cans black beans
4 cups low fat chicken broth
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
2-3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Garnish: shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions
Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, pepper, and garlic and sweat the veggies for 15 minutes--until the onions are almost translucent. Keep the heat low so the veggies don't brown. While the veggies sweat, rinse and strain the beans. Measure out 3 cups of the strained and drained beans and place them in a food processor with 1 cup of the chicken broth. Puree until smooth. When the veggies are done, pour the pureed beans, the remaining whole beans, the remaining cup of chicken broth, and all the seasonings into the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour (until thick).
Serve with the garnishes and feel virtuous. Look at all the fiber you're getting!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Sesame Chicken with Broccoli and Bok Choy
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbs rice wine (or use cooking sherry)
1 tbs sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger root, minced
1 tbs sugar (optional)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch scallions, cut in 1 inch lengths
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
3 cups Bok choy (or use Napa cabbage)
1 tbs cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tbs water
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2-3 tbs peanut oil
2 cups cooked rice
Slice Bok choy into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, and sesame seeds. Add the cut up chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. In a wok or skillet, heat peanut oil over medium heat (about 2 minutes). Add scallions, broccoli, and bok choy. Stir fry 1 minute. Transfer to dish. Add chicken with marinade to wok. Stir fry about 3 minutes (until chicken is no longer pink). Remove with slotted spoon to dish with vegetables. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to liquid in the wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens, then return the chicken and vegetables to the sauce and cook 1 minute more. Serve with rice.
Friday, May 23, 2008
These file folders have made my life soooooo much easier. I have one for Weight Watcher recipes, one for Thanksgiving, one for Christmas, one for Easter, and one for Cookouts right now.
Thanksgiving's folder, for example, holds the following:
- Thawing/Roasting Guidelines
- article on "Hassel-free Thanksgiving"
- article "Making Gravy the CIA Way"
- Thanksgiving Shopping List
- Menus from previous Thanksgivings
- To Do list for the day before and the day of (a timeline)
- recipe for "Classic Make-ahead Gravy" (the best!)
- recipe for Sausage Roll Puffs (appetizer)
- recipe for Quick Candied Sweet Potatoes
- recipe for Smashed Rutabagas with Ginger-roasted Pears
- recipe for Corn Casserole
- recipe for Mashed Turnips with Nutmeg
- recipe for Bourbon-Pecan Tart
- recipe for Puree of Roasted Pear and Fennel Parmesan Soup
- recipe for Spicy Sausage in Carozza
I can see at a glance what I served the year before and I have choices for some of my side dishes. The shopping list may be altered slightly depending on dishes added or subtracted, but a lot of the planning is already done for me. Believe me, this organization has saved me so much time. I highly recommend it.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Simple Pastry Shell
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
2 1/2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water
Cut the shortening and butter into small pieces. Add the flour and salt to the mixture and use a pastry cutter to blend, adding water a few teaspoons at a time. Do not overmix. Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill 1 hour. Roll into a circle on a floured surface. Fill with pie weights or use beans on top of waxed paper and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove weights and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool before filling.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
KEY LIME PIE FILLING
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz Neufchatel cheese
3/4 cup key lime juice
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
whipped cream and slices of lime (optional)
Blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into (baked) pie shell. Pipe whipped cream around the edges and garnish with slices of lime.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Chicken (or shrimp) Stir Fry
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb chicken (boneless, skinless breast or thigh) OR shrimp (shelled, deveined)
1-2 tbs vegetable or canola oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbs fresh ginger, chopped
2 large crowns broccoli, separated into florets
2 carrots, cut on the diagonal
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
3 tbs cooking sherry
1 tbs flour dissolved in 2 tbs water
1/4 cup cashews
2 cups cooked rice
To velvet the chicken (or shrimp):
Whisk the cornstarch and egg whites together and add the salt. Add the chicken and let stand for about 20 minutes. You can leave it in the refrigerator longer, if you wish.
To complete the dish:
Heat the oil in a wok or in a large, heavy skillet with high sides. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Remove from oil and set aside in a large bowl. Add chicken (or shrimp) and stir fry until meat is cooked through and opaque (do not overcook). Remove and combine with garlic and ginger that you set aside. Stir fry the broccoli and carrots for about 4 minutes. Return the chicken and garlic/ginger mixture to the pan. In a mixing bowl combine the teriyaki sauce, sherry, flour, and water. Whisk together and add to the pan, bring to a boil as you stir (to thicken sauce). Top with the cashews. Serve over rice.
Notice the texture of the meat!!!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I've been making these simple BBQ wings since the 70's. The original recipe came from my friend Norma. I've tweaked them and they're still easy and still delicious. My one warning is this: make them in a disposable aluminum pan. The clean up isn't worth it!
3 lbs wings, tip removed, separated into 2 pieces
2 tbs vegetable or canola oil
salt and pepper
1 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Wash and dry the wings. In a large, shallow disposable aluminum pan, mix the wings with the oil until they are coated, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, and chopped garlic and pour over the wings, turning to coat. Bake 60-75 minutes, until wings are carmelized. Turn once during cooking. These reheat well, but lose their crispiness if you do reheat.
Friday, May 16, 2008
One of my all time favorite appetizers combines 3 things that I just can't get enough of: garlic, pesto, and goat cheese. Make that 4 things: toasted baguette rounds, too. This isn't difficult to make, but it makes a wonderful presentation. More importantly, some of this spread with a good glass of Sangiovese can make me swoon.
Roasted Garlic, Pesto, and Goat Cheese on Toasted Baguette
For the roasted garlic:
1 large head of garlic
For the pesto:
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups fresh basil
1/3 tsp. salt
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the baguette slices:
1 large baguette
2 tbs melted butter
To make the roasted garlic:
Cut a bit less than 1/3 off the top of the head of garlic. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, grind some fresh pepper and sea salt over the garlic. Wrap foil tightly and bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.
To make the pesto:
With the motor of your food processer running, drop in garlic and chop finely. Stop the motor and add the pine nuts, basil leaves, and salt. Process until chopped. With motor running, add oil until incorporated. Chill until ready to use. Makes 1 cup.
To make the baguette slices:
Slice the baguette into thin (less than 1/4 inch) slices. Place on a baking sheet and brush melted butter over one side. Bake in a 200 degree (slow) oven for 30 minutes. Check them; if not totally crisp, continue baking and checking every 15 minutes.
Purchase a log of goat cheese.
Assemble the appetizer:
Unwrap the log of goat cheese and let it come to room temperature. Gently squeeze each clove of garlic out of its skin. Arrange the goat cheese, pesto, roasted garlic in small crocks and surround with the baguette slices. Provide cheese spreaders. OR Layer each baguette slice with some goat cheese; top with a dab of pesto and a garlic clove. OR You can combine the goat cheese, garlic, and pesto and serve as a spread with the baguette slices.
Anyway you serve this, you will get raves!
"The torch of love is lit in the kitchen."
Isn't that the truth? There are lots of cliches about food and love. The funny thing is that most of them ring true. The kitchen has always been the heart of every home I've lived in. I don't think my cooking every hurt my chances with a man. And you already know my feelings about "Food is love."
If you want to "share the love," just whip up these fast, simple flourless cakes with a pudding-like center.
CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES
3 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup water
12 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (use a GOOD chocolate)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tbs instant coffee
pinch of salt
3 tbs dark rum OR coffee liqueur OR your favorite liqueur
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter six (6) one and one-quarter (1 1/4) cup custard cups or souffle cups. Combine the butter and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until the butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat, then add the chocolate, sugar, coffee, and salt. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the liqueur and the vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until blended. Gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture. Divide the chocolate mixture among the prepared cups. Bake until the edges crack slightly but the center 2 inches remain glossy and soft (about 25 minutes). Serve the cakes warm. They're wonderful with a dab of whipped cream and raspberry sauce or vanilla ice cream.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
One of my favorite "lite" dishes is eggplant parmigiana. For those of you who garden and find yourselves with a bumper crop of zucchini, this recipe would work equally well, though I must confess I've never tried it since I abhor zucchini. You can freeze this dish, but I find it extrudes too much liquid when it is reheated, so I'd just make one batch at a time.
EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA LITE
1-2 eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs) pared and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 egg white, beaten with 2 Tbs water
1/2 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs
1 cup ready-made sauce (try to keep calorie count below 140 and fat and sugar low)
3/4 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
3 Tbs grated cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 2 baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Dip each eggplant round in egg white, then into bread crumbs. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, turn slices over carefully,and bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven. In an 8 X 8 inch glass baking dish, spread 1/4 cup of sauce. Arrange eggplant round in a single layer over sauce. Top with 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/2 the shredded mozzarella. Place another layer of eggplant, top with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake an additional 5-10 minutes. Makes 4 servings.
Monday, May 12, 2008
1 can pizza crust (look for it in the biscuit/crescent roll section)
1/2 - 3/4 cup of your favorite ready-made sauce
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp butter + 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 piquillo peppers or red roasted peppers, sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated cheese
6 ready-made turkey meatballs, sliced (or substitute sliced sausage or pepperoni)
garlic salt, oregano
In a small saute pan, heat the butter and oil. Saute
the onions over low heat for about 20 minutes . This will carmelize them.
Open can of pizza crust. Lightly spray a 9 X 13 rimmed pan with
cooking spray and pat out the crust.
Top the dough with the sauce, spreading it to within a half-inch of the edge. Season with garlic salt and oregano.
Add half the shredded mozzarella, then layer the meatball slices, the sliced red peppers, the onions, and the other half of the mozzarella. Top with the grated cheese.
Preheat oven according to crust package instructions (usually 400 degrees) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Slice and enjoy! You'll get 8 generous slices. Leftovers freeze well if there are any.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
THE COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE APPROACH
Italian-style Stuffed Peppers and Meatloaf
2 lbs. lean ground beef
6 cubanelle peppers
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup cooked rice (white or brown)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup lukewarm water
1 package onion soup mix
1 can tomato soup
Place ground beef in a large bowl. Add both eggs, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well. Gradually add the cup of lukewarm water and mix until it has been completely absorbed. Divide this mixture in half.
Into the first half add the garlic, grated cheese, cooked rice, 1/2 can tomato soup, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove stem and seeds from the cubanelles and and place on a microwave-safe dish. Cook at full power for about 5 minutes. Be sure to drain on paper towels, then stuff each with 1/6 of the mixture. Top with the other half of the tomato soup. Bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.
Into the second half add the onion soup mix. Be sure to mix well. Add pepper (probably won't need salt). Shape into a loaf. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Voila! Two night's worth of dinners that reheat in the microwave.
THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT
Italian Wedding Soup
1 small onion, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1 slice of crustless white bread torn into small pieces
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 lb. lean ground beeft
12 cups chicken broth (commercial is what I use)
1 lb. escarole, chopped
1/4 cup grated cheese
To make the meatballs: Stir the onion, egg, bread, and garlic together. Add the cheese and beef. Add the salt and mix well. On a baking sheet, shape into 1 inch meatballs.
To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the meatballs and the escarole and simmer about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese together. Stirring the soup in a circular motion, gradually add the egg mixture into the swirling broth with a fork so that thin strands of egg form (about 1 minute). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This recipe makes enough for 2 nights. On the first night, I serve the soup as the main course with a salad to start and garlic bread. On the second night, I serve the soup as a hearty appetizer and follow with a panini or a pizza.
The meatloaf and the soup freeze well and will keep in your freezer for 3 months.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
cake pans and cookie molds for just about any dessert e.g Madelaine pans (remember those cookies Proust wrote about?)
non-stick straight-sided skillet
stand up food mixer
Le Creuset Dutch oven
Tassimo single cup beverage machine
The list could go on and on, but you get the picture. Let me be perfectly honest and say that if I had to hone this list (and the many items that are not on this list but are sitting in my closets) down to those absolute essentials, they would include my food processor, which is 33 years old; my Le Creuset Dutch oven in which I made soups, sauces, pot roast, and lots of other good stuff; my stand up mixer, which makes bread-making and baking a snap; my panini grill, which I've waxed eloquent about in another post; and, my deep, straight-sided skillet, which doubles as a wok. With these 5 "tools," I can make just about anything.
Over the years the number of food catalogs I receive has increased dramatically, but I still find most of what I need at Williams Sonoma. I try to limit the number of junk drawers in my kitchen to 3, but I'm always on the lookout for another toy. After all, why should men have all the fun?
Friday, May 9, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
(I call these church potatoes because this is just the kind of casserole you might find at a covered dish supper. These are equally good at brunch or dinner. People practically lick the bowl clean.)
1 2 lb package frozen hash brown potatoes
1 10 3/4 oz cans cream of mushroom soup
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
3 finely chopped scallions
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Transfer to a lightly greased 13X9X2 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes.
DR. D'S DEATH BY CHOCOLATE
7 Hershey Skor bars, finely crushed (leave wrappers on to do this)
1 chocolate pudding cake OR pan of brownies OR any chocolate cake, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup coffee liqueur
4 boxes of chocolate mousse, prepared according to package instructions
freshly made whipped cream (1 pint cream; 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar; 1 tsp vanilla)
In a pretty glass bowl layer:
1/2 chocolate cake pieces
3 Skor bar pieces
1/2 whipped cream
Repeat and top with 7th Skor bar. Refrigerate and serve. Be ready for lots of moaning.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
FARFALLE WITH BACON-TOMATO SAUCE
6 slices diced bacon
1 finely chopped onion
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, crushed or blended
1 1/2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 lb. farfalle pasta
1/4 cup heavy cream
Asiago cheese, grated
Brown the bacon, discarding all but 2 Tbs. of fat. Set bacon aside. Saute the onion in the bacon fat. Add the tomatoes with juices, sugar, salt and pepper to taste. As sauce simmers, prepare pasta according to package directions. When pasta is done, add cream to sauce, then add drained pasta. Top with reserved bacon and Asiago cheese.
2 Tbs. butter
1 diced shallot
4-6 diced, seeded plum tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup vodka
fresh basil ( a few leaves)
3/4 lb. penne pasta
Asiago cheese, grated
Melt the butter in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Saute the shallot a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook 5 minutes. Add the cream, vodka, and basil and simmer 5 - 8 minutes. Turn off heat while you prepare the pasta according to package instructions. Turn heat back on under sauce until hot, then add pasta, toss to coat, top with cheese, and serve.
8 oz. spaghetti
1/2 cup grated cheese (I prefer Locatelli Romano here)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
2 oz. chopped Pancetta (if unavailable, use chopped center cut bacon)
2 large leeks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Be sure to clean leeks thoroughly. Boil water for the pasta. At the same time, cook pancetta in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Remove pancetta from skillet and add leeks to pan drippings, sauteing 3-4 minutes. Add garlic to skillet and cook an additional minute. Combine cheese, salt, pepper, egg, and egg white in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta and add it to skillet with leeks and garlic. Reduce heat, add cheese mixture and pancetta and cook for 1 minute, tossing well to coat. Serve immediately.
ALL-AMERICAN SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 garlic clove, finely minced
salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheese (I prefer Locatelli Romano) OR 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
4 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup oil
Soak the breadin the milk for a few minutes. Combine in a large bowl: bread, beef, pork, veal, eggs, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to blend ingredients. Add bread crumbs, then add water, 1 cup at a time, until mixture is moist. Shape the meat into 3 inch balls. Heat the oil in a large skillet and fry the meatballs in batches. Don't crowd the skillet; you want the meatballs to brown and be slightly crispy. When bottom half is browned, gently turn over and brown the other side. Drain well on paper towels.
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 large can Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano, of course)
salt and pepper
basil, 3-4 leaves
2 Tbs. tomato paste
3 Tbs. olive oil
In a food processor, chop carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil until hot, but not smoking. Add chopped vegetables and saute about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook on low an additional minute. Blend tomatoes and juices to consistency you prefer (I don't like chunks, so I puree). Add tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook 1 hour. Add meatballs and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Serve over your favorite spaghetti (I love spaghettini) and top with lots of grated Asiago.
These are some of my favorite pastas. The farfalle with bacon-tomato sauce and the penne vodka are very easy. The spaghetti carbonara is all about timing. And, who doesn't like spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, the cook gets to sample the just-out-of-the-frying pan crunch of the meatball and, if there are any leftovers, they make great sang-wiches, as my mother's family used to call them.
Even if you comb the flyers, you won’t always be prepared for some of the specials you’ll find during your weekly shopping trip. While I try to limit the number of “impulse” purchases, I won’t pass up a good sale. What this does is build up my stash of cupboard staples for those weeks when we’ve spent too much and the grocery budget is shot, or I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t hit the supermarket. That’s when my creative juices get flowing and I “shop my cupboard” for dinner. Some of the meals that have come out of this adventure have actually made it into my regular rotation. Let me share just a few to give you some ideas so that you can shop your cupboard and save time and money. I like to try this about once a month. I won’t claim that I can go a whole week without shopping for anything (milk, bread, and fresh veggies just don’t last), but I can get by for quite a few days.
1 pound of any type pasta (except spaghetti-style pastas) or egg noodles
1 large jar of ready-made tomato sauce
1 container of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano
Prepare pasta according to package instructions and drain. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Mix eggs and cottage/ricotta cheese together and season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and grated cheese. Pour pasta into casserole dish and stir in cottage cheese mixture. Add jar of sauce and combine well. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, then serve. Makes 6-8 generous servings.
CHICKEN BROCCOLI DIVINE
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken (breasts or thighs work)
1 can cream of mushroom (or chicken or broccoli) soup
1 cup rice
1 package frozen broccoli, defrosted
1 1/3 cups water
Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Add broccoli, rice, soup, and water. Mix well. Lay chicken pieces on top. Cover and bake at 375 degrees 45 minutes or until rice and chicken are done. Serves 4.
½ onion, sliced thinly OR several scallions, sliced
sliced red peppers (1 fresh OR several jarred OR ½ package frozen)
1 can drained mushrooms (use fresh, if you have them)
1 Tbs. olive oil
cheese (any kind)—shredded (no more than 3-4 ounces)
seasoning (I love Sazon, but use whatever you have on hand)
OPTIONAL: several slices ham or Canadian bacon, diced
Beat the eggs, adding just a splash of water. Slice and dice all other ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onions, peppers, mushrooms (any other veggies) several minutes over medium heat. Add beaten eggs and seasonings (and meat, if you wish) and cook over medium heat, without stirring, until bottom begins to brown (you can lift the edges of the frittatta and tilt the pan so that the runny egg runs underneath). Turn omelet over (you may want to slide it on a dish, then invert it into pan) and allow other side to brown. Top with cheese and slice into wedges.
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
½ onion, chopped
red pepper, chopped (use roasted if fresh not available)
vinegar, red wine or Balsamic
salt, pepper, oregano
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine 1 Tbs. vinegar, 3 Tbs. olive oil, and seasonings to taste and pour over ingredients. Toss gently. A great side dish to hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs.
*feel free to use other types of beans
1 cup Arborio rice
½ onion, chopped
3 ½ cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
Optional add in’s to make this an entrée: cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces; cooked shrimp; diced leftover pork or beef
In a microwave safe bowl, add 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter and microwave uncovered for 2 minutes. Add chopped onion and microwave for another 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup Italian Arborio rice and microwave for 5 minutes. Stir rice and onion mixture, then add 3 ½ cups broth. Microwave for 9 minutes. Stir the mixture well and microwave for an additional 9 minutes. Top with grated cheese. (If adding in cooked meat or seafood, add during the last 3 minutes, just enough to heat it.)
Most of the recipes I create when I shop my cupboard are quite simple, relying on just a few ingredients and generally taking between 30 to 45 minutes, start to finish. Here are some suggestions for items to stock your cupboard (and freezer):
roasted red peppers
frozen vegetables (broccoli, stir fry, asparagus)
I hope this gets you started. I'll be adding "Shop Your Cupboard" recipes as I invent them.