Posted at 12:12 pm , on January 9, 2021
In the past decade-plus of living on board I have learned to cook, at first by necessity and later because I enjoyed it. When the Captain and I moved aboard Cool Change (Aaron’s dad’s Freedom 32) in 2009 we ate simply. Mainly because neither of us knew how to cook very well and the space was also challenging. The galley is pretty teensy with only two burners, an oven about the size of a toaster-oven, and an ice-cooled refrigerator. Since it was summertime, we barbecued/grilled chicken, beef, fish and veggies the majority of evenings.
Growing up, my mother did all the cooking for the family and never invited my sister and I to participate. (And the rare time we did, the majority of the meals were from cans and boxes.) In my previous marriage to Brett he did all the cooking. I worked 60 hours a week and came home after long days and late meetings to a warm meal nightly. I rarely ventured into the kitchen and when I did it was mostly reheating. He enjoyed cooking so it wasn’t an issue and we hosted many dinner parties for family and friends with him in the kitchen and me doing the event coordinating. It wasn’t that I didn’t like cooking; it was more that I never really had the encouragement, motivation or opportunity until I was in my forties.
Posted at 9:19 am , on November 15, 2020
Macaroni and cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods. I’ve made it a kazillion ways using different varieties of cheese, baked, straight from the pot, with a bread crumb topping, and without.
This recipe was invented because I had a half cup of Alfredo sauce in my fridge and didn’t want it to go to waste. I figured it would meld well with the other ingredients I had on hand, and I was right! It was ooey, gooey cheesy and so easy to throw together.
Variations: Choose your own cheese blends and try different flavors of creamed soup and Alfredo sauce. (The sauce I had was garlic flavored; otherwise I would have added a couple of minced garlic cloves as we are garlic lovers.) Add a diced jalapeno pepper or a dash of cayenne if you like it spicy. Use different pasta shapes, but I suggest staying with one that will hold the cheese, such as shells, elbow or penne.
Posted at 12:09 am , on October 6, 2020
Sometimes my recipes are created out of necessity, as in this case. I bought a 4 lb pork loin that I thought would be great for my hubby to smoke. I’ll be the first to admit that I have no clue as to the fine art of barbecuing, grilling and smoking. He mentioned that this cut might dry out but went ahead and brined and smoked, spending all day tending to our main course for the evening. And lo and behold, he was right. It was far from tender and juicy and instead almost inedible.
I come from a long line of thrifty cooks, so wasn’t going to throw away the whole loin and thought long and hard hard to bring moisture back to the protein. (Although, I did pick this up from our local Grocery Outlet for a bargain price!) I knew I needed to simmer it in a liquid and with fall just beginning, our evenings have been getting cooler so a soup came to mind.
Posted at 4:15 am , on August 25, 2020
Hubby has been doing a ton of meat smoking since we were gifted with a mini-Traegar barbeque from his Dad. We’ve done salmon, whole chickens, corned beef (which makes pastrami), and beef and pork roasts. Roasts end up in recipes for two or three meals and I try to be creative in changing up the flavor profile so we aren’t eating the same thing every night.
This was a 6 pound lamb roast that started with a nice fat cap, making the meat tender and juicy. After serving it sliced the first night, I cut the leftovers into bite-sized cubes and made a stew for my daughter with potatoes, celery and peas, Shepherd Pies for us and finally this curry served over jasmine rice.
Posted at 5:05 am , on August 11, 2020
In lieu of hot veggies, I like to make side salads to go with dinner in the summer. Hubby isn’t a big fan of green salads so I switch it up now and then.
This bright salad combines the sweetness of ripe watermelon with the salty tang of feta and kalamata olives. The sweet/savory dressing brings it all together for yumminess in every bite.
Variations: Any tomatoes will do; I like the yellow for the contrast in color. You can use an English cucumber and leave the skin intact.
Posted at 5:19 am , on July 28, 2020
Chicken wings don’t have to be a guilty pleasure. I’ve found that baking them is as delish as deep frying, and far more heart-healthy (not to mention less messy).
You can take the easy-peasy route and simply make a batch of basic wings and then serve a variety of dipping sauces on the side. Or you can go a bit more fancy and flavorful by tossing them in one of the sauces below near the end of the cooking time. I usually serve with a platter of raw, cold veggies.
Variations: Recipes for my basic wings and two favorite flavors are below: Buffalo and Ginger-Soy. You can toss the wings in a multitude of sauces of your choosing and finish in the oven. Oil based salad dressings are a good option. Stay away from cream-based sauces as they will burn; offer them for dipping instead (ranch and bleu cheese are a favorite). An easy way to create your own dipping sauces is to start with a base of 1/4 cup sour cream and simply stir in herbs and spices of your choosing.
Posted at 4:41 am , on July 14, 2020
A dear friend gifted me with a literal armload of fresh herbs from her garden. I used them in daily recipes for a solid week, keeping them wrapped in damp paper towels in the fridge, and then needed to find another use before they turned brown. There are a plethora of ideas such as tying them in bunches, hanging by their stems and letting dry, making pesto or chimichurro sauce, and freezing in ice cube trays. I opted to make simple syrup, compound butter and infused oil.
- Simple Syrup … the name says it all. It takes all of 5 minutes to make and the result is a thick, sweet syrup. Herbal infused simple syrup adds a gourmet flair to cocktails and desserts and lasts for about two weeks when stored in a sterilized glass container in the fridge.
- Compound Butter … Another easy way to add flavor to everyday meals with a pat of herbal butter on warm rolls, rice, mashed potatoes or veggies. It is also incredibly delicious served on a steak hot off the grill or pan. It can be frozen for up to six months or about a week in the fridge.
- Olive Oil … Store-bought infused oils are expensive, especially when they are so easy to make! The big difference is that manufactured products have a longer shelf life than homemade versions. So you’ll want to make these in small batches and use within two weeks. Use the lightest olive oil you can find so the flavor doesn’t compete with the herbs. You can use the herbs that are strained out in future recipes. The rosemary and garlic gets nice and crispy and is wonderful added to soups and stews.
Posted at 3:30 am , on June 30, 2020
Kugel is a well-loved staple of Jewish family meals and can be made sweet or savory, with noodles or potatoes. Although I’ve seen some fancy schmancy recipes, traditionally it’s a baked pudding or casserole with simple ingredients, served as a starch side or dessert. It can be made in a regular casserole pan but I like the presentation of a round pie dish.
Potato kugel is made with grated potatoes, but when I’m making a special holiday dinner with many components such as Passover, the use of frozen hashbrowns makes for an easy side that can be prepped in the morning and popped in the oven an hour before serving. It can also be baked, cooled, frozen and reheated if you want to pre-make it.
Posted at 3:16 am , on June 16, 2020
Hubby is most definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy but we have been trying to limit our carbohydrate intake so often dinner just features a protein and large portion of a veggie side. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, look similar to potatoes when diced or sliced and have a similar texture, but feature a sweet, nutty flavor similar to an artichoke, that only needs a few herbs and olive oil. I served these with Easter dinner (turkey ham basted in mustard, honey and brown sugar and roasted asparagus).
Sunchokes are also good raw; crunchy and a great addition to a green salad when sliced thinly. Some people prefer to peel them, but with their odd shape it can be quite a task. I prefer to wash off any dirt and give them a good scrub with a textured sponge or veggie brush and leave the skin on.
They are rich in iron, potassium and vitamin B1. And the really good news for diabetics is that they have have a lower glycemic index score than potatoes as they store their carbohydrate as inulin (not to be confused with insulin) rather than starch. And for all of us, they aren’t fattening (one cup of raw sunchokes has approximately 110 calories and zero fat)!
Posted at 3:44 am , on June 10, 2020
My husband’s family hails from Portugal and they observe an annual Christmas Eve tradition of gathering for breakfast at midnight. I wanted to contribute to the table and found a recipe that I tweaked for Pasteis de Nata, Portuguese Custard Tarts. They were declared “the real deal” by those in the know and hubby’s dad had a few more than his fair share. 🙂 I’m posting this on “Portugal Day,” an official national day of celebration, commemorating Luis de Camoes, a poet and national literary icon. (Click here
for more info from Wikipedia.)