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.)
Posted at 6:02 am , on June 2, 2020
Caprese salad is always a favorite … thick slices of juicy tomatoes, hunks of creamy mozzarella and fresh basil leaves drizzled with olive oil on a platter or in stacks. I thought this would make a colorful addition to a family diner in lieu of the usual green salad so scaled down the ingredients to miniature size and added some fresh herbs planted by the Grands. Next time, I’ll double the recipe for leftovers as it was quickly gobbled up!
Variations: You could skip the added herbs and keep it classic with just the basil, and also try different flavored olive oils. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar across the top would make for a nice presentation and burst of flavor (my daughter is not a fan, so we didn’t add to ours).
Posted at 5:05 am , on May 19, 2020
There is something soothing about sitting down to comfort food during these tough times, plus they are also inexpensive and easy to make. Turkey is a healthy alternative to beef, but tends to be drier so the pasta sauce gives needed moisture without being greasy.
I used to stuff my peppers by cutting off the top with the stem but have found that by slicing them lengthwise the meat mixture heats quicker which allows the peppers to remain firm instead of getting mushy. (Plus they don’t tip over in the pan and are also easier to cut and eat.)
These make a nice, low-carb meal with added hidden veggies and a side salad rounds it out nicely. Bell peppers are high in vitamin C, with a single one providing over 150% of the recommended daily intake. They also provide vitamin K1, E and A, and folate and potassium.
Variations: You can use whatever color bell peppers you like or be really creative and mix it up with red, orange, yellow and green for a pretty presentation! You can also use red tomatoes instead of the yellow that I used (it’s what I had on hand), kale instead of spinach (which I absolutely detest!), different types of shredded cheese and different flavors of pasta sauce. You could also use straight up tomato sauce but would need to add some herbs to make it more flavorful.
Posted at 4:23 am , on May 5, 2020
During this pandemic, I have the privilege and pleasure of homeschooling my Grands two to three days a week so my daughter can do her job as a behavioral therapist for special needs children, an essential service so the children don’t fall behind with their development.
In addition to school work and online meetings, I try to come up with creative and fun hands-on activities and cooking is something that both Grandsons enjoy. Measuring and mixing are great for math and organizational skills and I’m attempting to expand their palates as well.
This recipe was simple enough that my almost-eight-year-old Grandson could do it all by himself with just my supervision! Although he thought the can of cream of celery soup looked like “slime” and the mixture was “gross,” he loved it when he tasted the finished product.
I treasure my memories of cooking with my Nana and know that although the virus has been a tough time to live through, this will also be remembered as a time when family was truly put above all else and we created some great meals together.
Posted at 4:21 am , on April 21, 2020
This is my husband’s favorite meal and is packed with rich flavors in every scrumptious bite. It is NOT a quick and easy recipe and I won’t be preparing it when we are underway on long passages. It’s for special occasions and fills the cabin with an amazing scent for hours as it simmers.
I made this on a Thursday during the Pandemic. The special occasion? Because Aaron gets up early every day to go to a job in a very scary time to support our family. My job is to help care for our Grands so my daughter can work, keep our home clean and tidy, and feed him. Because I now shop only once a week and we have a teeny fridge and no freezer, I’ve been sticking with simple proteins and veggies. But once a week, I plan something special to show him my appreciation and love … and he eats up both! 🙂 Bonus is that Tiki gets the beef bones!
The key to this recipe is to start early and simmer for hours, allow another few hours to sit covered, then put in the oven for the final hour. No knives are needed when it has been cooked all day … it is falling off the bone and fork tender. It truly is OHMYGOD delish!
Posted at 10:02 am , on April 9, 2020
Homemade horseradish sauce is so easy that we haven’t had store-bought since I discovered how to make it myself a few years ago. It literally takes minutes and can be enhanced with flavored vinegar and salt, kept traditional, or made creamy and the sharp flavor down-played by adding sour cream.
One five-inch piece makes about three cups of traditional horseradish sauce. It can be stored in a glass jar with a tight lid in the fridge for many months and does taste stronger the longer it sits. When mixed with sour cream, it should be used within a week, so just take out a few tablespoons at a time for the creamy version and store the remainder.
Top with finely chopped chives for a nice presentation.
Posted at 3:24 am , on April 7, 2020
This is a flavorful meal that presents beautifully in minutes. I’ll eat any seafood but hubby is a bit pickier, especially when it comes to shellfish. We both love scallops as they don’t have a strong “fishy” taste and do have a “meaty” texture.
The trick to scallops is twofold: they need to be fresh and not overcooked. If they have a fishy smell or are slimy, don’t use them. The ones I bought were out of the shell and cleaned, fresh (not frozen) vacuum-packed wild products of the United States. If you buy frozen and defrost, they may have a mealy texture.
When you cook, watch them closely and only cook until opaque on both sides. Take one out and cut in half to test for doneness. We personally like ours a tad on the undercooked side so ours are done when still just a bit transparent and shiny in the very middle. If you aren’t a fan of almost-sushi, cook until firm but not hard and fully white in the middle.