Posted at 5:06 am , on April 9, 2019
My dear friend Kat Ott Davis passed almost two years ago, but she is always in my thoughts and heart when I cook. She was an exquisite artist and designer … painting, jewelry, displays, clothing … and brought that creativity to her cooking. Anyone who had the honor of being invited to a meal or gathering at her home was treated to so much more than just “food.” It was always a journey of flavors and aromas as Kat explained the history of the ingredients and why she chose the combinations of herbs and spices in each course.
She taught me to make these sauteed mushrooms and they are so good that I could eat them as is, in a bowl. Usually, I smother a piece of beef with them, but they would also be absolutely delish served over sauteed greens such as baby bok choy or swiss chard for a vegan dish. They can’t be rushed … it’s all about the slow cook so the liquids thicken and the ‘shrooms carmelize.
These simple ingredients are always available at Alameda’s Grocery Outlet and total cost is about $5.00 (not including the wine … which happens to be on sale during their huge 20% off promotion!). It should serve four, but if you love mushrooms as much as hubby and I, then it’ll barely feed two.
Posted at 3:37 am , on April 2, 2019
This ain’t my mother’s meatloaf! My mother was not a great cook, as I’ve mentioned before, and meatloaf in my childhood was dry, bland and smothered in ketchup. Not this one. My husband and father-in-law are major meatloaf connoisseurs and I’ve made many versions over the years. One of my fav’s was a recipe from my ex, who wrapped the ground meat around a sausage before baking. It was always moist and delish! But this meatloaf was absolutely the best ever, according to the men who know and love their meatloaf. I served thick slices with fresh green beans sauteed in lemon infused olive oil and sea salt and Yukon gold potatoes boiled and rustic mashed with skins on and lots of butter. Comfort food at it’s finest!
Our local Grocery Outlet keeps all of these ingredients in stock, with a nice variety of the ground meat to choose from. Man Cave and New York Style Sausage Company both other 1 pound “tubes” of seasoned ground meat: beef, pork and a combination, with spices already mixed in. This cuts out tons of prep time. If using unseasoned ground meat, I’d add chopped onions, garlic and bell peppers. Not for this easy recipe.
Wrapping the loaf in bacon seals in the juices and adds a smokey flavor and also holds it together nicely for clean slicing. Don’t use thick slices as the bacon won’t cook as well.
Posted at 4:35 am , on March 26, 2019
My weekly menu always builds upon like ingredients in the meals to save space and waste. So when I buy a bag of spinach to use 2 cups for one recipe, there will be other recipes using spinach a well, until the bag is gone. This way I can buy in larger quantities for the week and save some money. (Hubby’s not so thrilled when I buy a big bag of carrots, but they add color, crunch and get hidden in most recipes.)
Alameda’s Grocery Outlet keeps all of these ingredients regularly stocked, with the exception of the turmeric and dried ginger. The mint is in the organic veggie section, along with a nice assortment of other fresh herbs. I baked tandoori chicken thighs to go with, but it would make a full vegan main dish on its own. Total cost was $14 for just the stew; $21 with the chicken. It comes together quickly, but simmering for at least 30 minutes thickens the consistency and brings out the many exotic flavors.
Posted at 5:39 am , on March 19, 2019
I love making desserts and hubby loves eating them (shhhh, I do too). Having them once or twice a weekend would be fine, but when I make a cake, brownies, bread pudding or other sweet treat, it’s a piece a night for four or five nights as neither of us likes to waste food (that’s our story and we’re sticking to it!).
These little cakes are outrageously decadent and perfectly sized for two and so easy whip up. Make the cakes earlier in the day and then fifteen minutes before you want to serve dessert, make the ganache.
These ingredients are always stocked at the Alameda Grocery Outlet with different flavors of chips available depending on the season. The ones I used were actually caramel flavored. If I had used white chocolate chips, I’d have added an 1/8 of a teaspoon of vanilla. And if you are a chocolate aficionado, by all means do chocolate on chocolate!
Posted at 2:58 am , on March 12, 2019
I’m 100% Orange Irish. For those who don’t know the difference, in a nutshell: Green are from the south, Catholic and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Orange are from the north, Protestant and celebrate July the 12th. (The story goes much deeper; I’ll save that for another day!)
Although I’ve been Jewish for over 20 years, I was brought up in a definitely Orange household and we never had corned beef or celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. Americans go crazy over the holiday, so I play along with the hype and make Hubby a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal each year. Gotta admit … it’s pretty darned tasty no matter your religion or politics!
Living on a boat, we try to be conscious of the use of our resources (water, propane, batteries). We love soups and stews in the winter, but using four hours of propane to boil corned beef is a bit much. So I did some research and found that it can be baked in half the time! It was absolutely delish … so tender and firm. I’ll never boil corned beef again!
Posted at 5:58 am , on March 5, 2019
I’m a big fan of one-pot meals. Living on a boat, I have very little counter space and the dishwasher is me for the most part so the less items, the better. My prep surfaces are on top of the sink, stove and fridge so I need to stage all ingredients, chop and measure, and be ready to go. This recipe comes together in about 20 minutes and thickens as it sits: serious comfort food!
Our local Grocery Outlet has a nice assortment of gnocchi and I’ve tried several and don’t have a favorite. I’ve made my own gnocchi but it is a pretty big mess and takes time and just the right amount of kneading and boiling to get them just right. And honestly, once you cover those little dumplings with sauce, it’s all good!
The secret in this dish is definitely the roux. It’s important to get the butter-veggie-flour combo smooth, adding the flour slowly and stir, stir, stir to avoid lumps. This creates the base for the meal.
Posted at 7:18 am , on February 26, 2019
Backyard barbecues and potato salad just go together. Everytime I make it, it’s slightly different depending on the guest list, and this is the basic recipe from my Nana. During the warm summer months our family spent many lazy afternoons in their backyard, with Papy barbecuing chicken and hotdogs and Nana making the side dishes and setting the picnic table while my sister and I played on the grass or on the beach. All of these ingredients are stocked at our local Grocery Outlet and you probably have on hand.
Most potato salad connoisseurs will tell you it must be made the night before and allowed to sit to really meld the flavors and I agree. But that’s where the agreements end. There are strong camps for using mayonnaise versus Miracle Whip and certain potato varieties. And then the additions: onion, celery, sweet or dill relish. All I can say is that this recipe is universally loved!
Posted at 6:36 am , on February 19, 2019
Sometimes the simplest meals are the most delicious. It’s all about using fresh ingredients that pair nicely together. Our local Grocery Outlet features a variety of seasonal seafood and I snagged these nice ocean-caught lobster tails to serve with New York strip steaks. I didn’t have time to make homemade gnocchi but a package of good quality butternut squash topped with homemade Alfredo sauce rounded the meal out beautifully. The total cost was about $25, a third of the cost of going out to eat and it impressed the hubby with both taste and presentation.
For the steaks, I let them come to room temperature then brushed with Worcestershire sauce and sprinkled with Montreal seasoning. For medium-rare, they take about 15 minutes on the grill so I start the sauce when they go on, followed by the ravioli’s and then the lobster tails. While the meat rests, I am doing the final tasting and ready to plate within five minutes. The key is to have the ingredients chopped and measured out so it comes together quickly.
Posted at 7:37 pm , on February 12, 2019
It has been brrrrrrr on our little piece of the Alameda Riviera in Northern California this week. We rarely dip below the mid-50s in the winter and we were seeing low-40s … This weather calls for soup! This meatball soup is inexpensive and easy to assemble. Our local Grocery Outlet always has these ingredients in stock with the whole meal costing $12. I simply added sourdough bread and butter on the side and it was a filling meal with leftovers for lunch. And any time I have the opportunity to make a meal in my Nana’s Dutch oven makes me so happy … extra love in every bite.
Variations: I used hot Italian sausage because Hubby and I both like spicy food. You can use the mild if you prefer. This particular brand is seasoned nicely and I didn’t need to add a single spice, other than a parsley garnish. I used chicken broth as it’s what I had on hand. Beef or vegetable broth would be good as well. I had a can of white chili beans that were already seasoned with onion, garlic and jalapeno, which also added to the flavor. You can use unseasoned white or great Northern beans instead and then gauge the seasoning level before adding the spinach.
Posted at 9:00 am , on February 5, 2019
I take great pride in making colorful, nutritious meals but often don’t have time for prep or marinating. Thanks to our local Grocery Outlet I can always find fresh meat ready to pop into the oven. Last week I featured Tyson’s Orange Chicken Strips, this week it’s Urban Turban’s Garlic & Pepper Chicken Thighs.
Usually we prefer to grill our chicken, but it’s been pouring rain the last month so I’m using the oven more for cooking with the bonus of warming the boat. I didn’t get the brown skin I’d like because I didn’t leave the chicken under the broiler long enough, but it was juicy and delish anyway!