Sunday, April 27, 2014

Cooking from "Scratch"

Cooking from scratch is sometimes simple, sometimes complicated or requires a mixture of experience and knowing what flavors work best with the dish. The southern, down-home recipes on this blog are designed for the new cook as well as the very experienced. All it takes is a little time in understanding the ingredients and steps.

I offer you recipes that I prepare often or recipes that are family traditions. I will tell you in advance if it is one that requires a bit of thought as I sometimes do not measure exact ingredients. These you can experiment with easily and none of them are complicated. That's the best part of scratch cooking, you can claim the dish as your own.

Note to new cooks: from scratch means you start with basic ingredients where nothing is pre-mixed and you have to measure the quantities.

Of course, there are recipes from others that have proven just too good to not share. Like the Best Breadmachine White Bread. It would be wrong to keep that to myself. Then there are those that are simply links to articles I've written elsewhere but they take you directly to the recipe.

We discuss using fresh vegetables, making your own seasonings, growing your own herbs and how to use them. I hope you stay for a while and enjoy using the recipes and suggestions. Leave a comment or share something. I will post the recipe with full credit to you if you do.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Delicious No-Fat Chicken



I love this chicken because it requires very little to make and it is diet friendly without having to think about it. Loads of flavor, no fat, little effort.

INGREDIENTS:


  • Any amount of chicken (except breasts)
  • 1/2 onion, washed and sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper (red or green but the red is prettier), washed and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, washed and smashed
  • Lawry's Seasoning Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Pan coating
  • Boiling water
  • Oven to stovetop safe pan or skillet


  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Put water in tea kettle or pot and let it come to a boil. When it does, turn the fire down so that it simmers while you are preparing the chicken.
  • Wash chicken and pat dry. In a bowl, sprinkle with the seasoning salt and pepper.
  • Coat your pan with non stick. I make my own but Pam is fine.
  • Arrange chicken so that there is only one layer in the pan. Set pan in oven and let chicken brown.
  • When it is browned, set pan on top of stove. Put the vegetables on top and add enough boiling water to cover the chicken. Let it cook until less than 1/4 inch of liquid is left in the pan. You do not have to cover but can if you want.
  • The trick to this dish is the amount of liquid left in the pan. First, don't over salt your chicken. The lower the liquid gets, the more intense the flavor and too much salt will ruin it. Second, don't try to make this a gravy. It is supposed to be like a reduced sauce, kind of thick. And... it looks great on the plate, especially served with rice or mashed potatoes. I use Fresh and Easy Instant Brown Rice which isn't so instant, it just cooks faster.
  • When serving, just spoon a little of the sauce onto the chicken, rice or potatoes.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Simple, Delicious Cuban Black Beans

FreeDigitalPhotos.net  photo by Gualberto107
Simple Cuban Black Beans is delicious, fast and healthy and goes well with just about any main dish. Add a salad and protein and get a filling meal that covers the basic food groups.

Usually, I add cooked rice and mix it in before serving. That is the standard way of serving them along with some salsa and cojita cheese. Tastes so good they will ask for seconds.

I served it with blackened salmon and avocado/herb salad. Total calories: 684 per serving.

Ingredients:
1 (14 oz) can Fresh and Easy Organic black beans
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

Optional: fresh parsley and cojita cheese to sprinkle on top

In a large heavy skillet, spray with non stick oil. Heat and then add oils. Add chopped onions and saute until soft. Add garlic. Immediately add whole can of beans including liquid in can. Cook on low until all liquid is absorbed.

At this point you can add cooked rice (I use Fresh and Easy Instant Brown Rice). Add as much as you like but usually 1 cup rice to 1/2 cup of beans is fine.






Friday, December 27, 2013

Fried Chicken Wings

This is actually my dinner plate, however, I now use brown rice.
A simple weekday dinner for one: plain rice with a sprinkle of paprika, boiled brussel sprouts with a drizzle of olive oil and sinfully, delicious fried chicken wings. The way I see it, the plain rice and brussel sprouts offset the fried wings.

IMHO, fried chicken doesn't need batter or fancying up. Just a good oil, mainly 100% extra virgin, flour, Lawry's Seasoning Salt and black pepper. I used to fry them in an iron skillet but Bernice gave me an iron kettle that I now use. It waits on the back of the stove between usage and I do not change the oil often, maybe every 3 or 4 months. First, I do not fry a lot. Second, I clean it by straining out the sediment, cleaning the pot and then pouring the used oil back in. When it is time to use it, sometimes I heat it and a potato is fried in it before the wings. But it is good to go regardless.

INGREDIENTS:

Any number of quality chicken wings
Lawry's Seasoning Salt
A little garlic powder
Black pepper
Plain flour
Paper or plastic bag
Olive Oil (if you are really brave, add a large spoon of organic shortening to it)

  • Wash wings really well. Drain and put them in a bowl. Make sure there is no extra water clinging to them or in the bowl. Wings should be moist, not wet.
  • Start heating oil.
  • Sprinkle seasonings on top of wings only. Next, take your hands and moosh them around so that all sides are coated.
  • Place about a cup of plain flour in the bag. Add wings and secure top. Shake bag so that all the wings are coated.
Test heat of oil by tossing a couple of "sprinkles"of water to the cooker. Should be about two or three drops only! If it pops and crackles a bit, it is hot enough. Please use caution when doing this, too much water will cause oil to bubble over and probably start a fire.

  • Shake excess flour from wings and then add three or four to oil. Fry until dark golden brown.
  • Serve.
 
This posting was originally written way before I changed my diet. Now, nearly every ingredient I use is organic and some are even vegan. In the case of this recipe, the wings are free-range or at least raised on vegetarian feed; the flour is organic; olive oil is certified organic; No GMOs, chemicals, dyes.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stone Wave As Seen On TV Chocolate Cake






Today, I mastered the microwave chocolate cake ala Stone Wave Microwave Cooker. There is a recipe included for Chocolate Souffle but it doesn't work so well with Carob...

This is not a product plug... I use a Panasonic NN-H965BF Genius 2.2 cu ft 1250-Watt Sensor Microwave with Inverter Technology and it is really powerful. The crocks come with cookbooks loaded with 5 minute recipes. Actually, they are mostly 2 minutes or less. However, with the power of the Panasonic, not only is that too long I have to set the power level at 7 or else the food turns to rubber.

So, knowing (and finally admitting) that I bought the little dishes to make the individual Chocolate Souffles, the minute I took them out of the box I made one. It was rubbery, far too sweet and a really very unappealing blob sitting there on the saucer.

Then I tried the eggs. A very simple (as are the other recipes) and small list of ingredients. They were worse than the souffle so I decided to spend the time perfecting the chocolate recipe.

Plus, after my lifestyle and diet change I now use Carob instead of chocolate. What it all came down to was adjusting everything: the time, the power level and researching how to use Carob. My lifestyle change includes daily 30 to 60 minute walk/run, daily strength training, eating organic, no GMO products, no gluten or wheat. Also, eating more cooked foods and less raw even though I loved my daily salads. Following this diet plan, I lost 30 pounds and am now on a maintenance plan (1600-1800 calories per day).

As of this writing, that research and the adjustments are nearly done. I just didn't add the Carob chips. And I used Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix instead of plain flour.

Individual Carob (Chocolate) Cake ala Stone Wave

  • 4 Tablespoons Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix (non gluten)
  • 2 Tablespoons organic sugar (since Carob is so sweet if you like bittersweet chocolate I would not use sugar at all)
  • 1 heaping Tablespoon of Carob powder
  • 3 Tablespoons almond or oat milk (if you are still doing dairy go ahead and use regular milk)
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons healthy oil (olive or grapeseed)
  • 2 Tablespoons whisked egg (crack whole egg and whisk. Use measuring spoon to measure it)
  • Dash of vanilla
  • Dash of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon is good)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix (whisk) thoroughly. Pour into Stone Wave cooker. cover with lid. For very powerful microwave cookers, set cook time for 2 minutes and the power level at 7. Enjoy warm cake with a little ice cream or Trader Joe's non diary whipped topping.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Carob, A Perfect Food

Carob has the taste, look and consistency of chocolate. It contains no stimulants. However, it is sweet on its own and cutting down on the amount of sugar used in a recipe is a good idea; unless you like really sugary desserts. One way to judge if it is sweet enough for your tastes is to eat a few unsweetened Carob chips. You will find that they have the equivalent of semi-sweet chocolate.

I just made a chocolate souffle in my As Seen On TV stoneware microwave lidded pot. The same recipe they show in the ads. Instead of chocolate, I used unsweetened Carob powder and unsweetened Carob chips, both of which the recipe calls for. It also lists sugar but I left it out. There are few more satisfying treats than a warm chocolate cake-like dessert with a molten chocolate center. This cake was all of that and more.
Even if you can eat as much chocolate as you want, trying the Carob version of desserts is worth the effort. Especially if all the other ingredients are organic.

The one thing that both have in common is that they are about equal in calories. Carob is 132 per ounce and semi-sweet chocolate chips are 135. They are also about equal in fat, sugars, carbs and fiber. The big difference is the lack of stimulants. Although chocolate does not contain caffeine it does have Theobromine, a caffeine-like stimulant that is gentler but a stimulant none the less. If you are interested, read about it here: http://www.xocoatl.org/caffeine.htm...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Monkey Bread- buttery and delicious

This is the recipe for buttery and non-sweet Monkey Bread. These are pull apart dinner rolls that are indulgent and not diet-friendly.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4- 4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (20 ounces weighed)
Additional melted butter (optional)

NOTES: 
These directions are for bread makers (mixing, kneading and the first rise).
Just use the "dough" setting.
I use organic butter, flour, eggs and sugar...
Do not use quick-rising dry yeast. This bread needs to rise slowly.
Use half butter and half olive oil for a delicious alternative that cuts down on saturated fats...
Normally, this recipe makes two dozen dinner rolls. You have the option of not making the Monkey Bread.

Directions:
Put the water, butter, salt and sugar in the bread maker pan. Add beaten eggs. Add flour and make a small indentation in the top and add the yeast. This is to allow it to mix well which the yeast will not do if it comes in contact with the water.

Use the dough setting. While the dough is processing, use olive oil to coat a plastic container that has a lid as you will need to refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 2 hours. However, it can be made up to 4 days ahead.

Lightly toss the dough in the container to coat all sides. Refrigerate.

Melt 2 ounces of butter and 2 ounces of a good olive oil in a bowl. Use more if needed.

Spray/coat a tube pan with Pam or choice of pan coating. 

Light flour a firm surface like a table top. Turn dough out and lightly knead to coat all sides with flour.
With rolling pin, lightly roll dough in all directions to about 1/2 inch thick. Using a sharp knife cut dough into strips and then into little rectangles.

Dip each piece in the melted butter mixture, then toss dough into pan. Shape of dough doesn't matter. When all of the dough is in pan, put it aside, cover with kitchen towel and allow to rise for one hour.

 Preheat to 375 degrees. Be sure rack is in the center of the oven for even baking. Bake bread for 14 to 20 minutes, until top is brown.

Turn bread out onto plate, wood board and serving dish of your choice. Serve warm.

To store, cover left over with kitchen towel and leave on table but I doubt if there will be any left.