Sweet Potato Soup ~ with apple

sweet pot soup

 

Simple and Healthy

 

I made Sweet Potato Soup Thursday. I’m having the second helping today and am enjoying it

1] peel, chop, boil 1 good sized sweet potato. When nearly soft, chop into chunks a good sized Gala apple with the skin on and add to the pot. When both potato and apple are very soft but not falling apart, drain.

2] Pour half of the mixture into a blender. I used a Ninja mixer. Add half of 2 cups of chicken broth (if it doesn’t have salt, add to taste). Add half a cup of plain yogurt, preferably Greek. Mix well.

3]Pour into a large bowl or pot and set aside. Then repeat the process. Place remaining potato/apple mixture in the blender,  the remaining 1 C of broth, another 1/2 C plain yogurt, and wiz.

4]Pour this into the bowl with the other half of the soup. Add boiling hot water to obtain the consistency you desire. Mix well with a large spoon, careful not to splatter it out of the bowl. Eat what you want and refrigerate the rest for later in the week. I have not tried to freeze this because I eat it right up.

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. ~ Ecclesiastes 9:7, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

Salisbury Steak ~ stuck at home, make it homemade

A Salisbury Steak jpegMy Little Cooking Journey

I’ve never had homemade Salisbury Steak before. I’ve selected it in college and hospital cafeterias, but homemade is a totally different culinary experience. The opposite of gummy cafeteria fare, it’s full of flavor. And, it’s easy to make.

I had a pound of organic ground beef and I had yellow squash. So, Salisbury Steak was a logical choice with the squash as a side. I can’t give you recipes because I almost never use them.

The first thing I did, which I often do, is google “easy Salisbury Steak recipes”, then “Salisbury Steak with Brown Gravy recipes”. Basically you need a pound of ground beef, 1/2 C or so of bread crumbs. I didn’t have bread crumbs so I used the oats on hand which wasn’t enough for breakfast. Was it a 1/2 C? I don’t know. I just mooshed it into the meat with minced onion, Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, salt, pepper, garlic. I had some made-from-scratch savory golden gravy (chicken stock base), and I threw a couple of tablespoons of that in with the meat for added flavor Then you make them into four oblong shaped patties. Sear them on both sides, and pour the rest of the gravy over them in the pan.  I didn’t let them get charred. In a few Youtube demonstrations, they got charred. Up to you. If you’re not experienced, don’t char them the first time. It takes 35 minutes to cook Salisbury Steak. If you’re a beginner, don’t walk away from the stove. Even if you’re not a beginner, don’t walk away from the stove.

I looked online at five or six recipes and a few Youtube demonstrations. One of them said to add diced red pepper. I had jarred roasted pepper, so I threw what I had left, drained, into the meat mixture and mooshed that baby up. Note: Preparing Salisbury Steak is like making meatloaf, except you use 1/2 C bread crumbs or rolled oats instead of bread. No bread in Salisbury Steak, and it has a higher meat content than meatloaf. You also must use Worcestershire sauce. You can cook the patties in jarred beef gravy. I’d add a little water to the jarred stuff when cooking.

Here’s the secret to making Southern Style Yellow (Summer) Squash. You wash and then cut them into rounds. Spray a pan and saute them for a bit. When they sizzle, add water, salt, pepper, some garlic…and simmer them to within an inch of their life. As the water evaporates, add more. Easy Peasy. You can let one or two of them get charred, for visual interest but don’t let them burn.  I add about a 1/2 C of cooking wine. That’s not traditional Southern, so don’t tell anyone. You can cook them for 35 minutes and they’ll be ready to serve with the Salisbury Steak. As with the meat, don’t walk away from the stove.

If you need a recipe, here’s one for Salisbury Steak I think is really easy to follow. It explains the difference between and hamburger patties and Salisbury Steak patties https://www.sixsistersstuff.com/recipe/salisbury-steak.

I Intensely Dislike ~ traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole

grean beans bacon-steak
Green beans with steak wrapped bacon.

Social Media is asking: What Thanksgiving foods do you like best, or dislike?

I like all Thanksgiving foods except the traditional green bean casserole made from frozen or canned French cut green beans, mixed with canned mushroom soup and topped with canned French fried onions, then baked. Sends shivers up my spine thinking about it. Not good chill bumps.

 

greem beans bacon
Green bean wrapped bacon. This has to go in the oven.

I moved to northeastern coastal Florida three years ago and was introduced to traditional Southern green beans and bacon. In someone’s momma’s or grandmomma’s house, it’s often sauteed in a cast iron skillet and they scrape the sides of the skillet to get all that bacon goodness. I love that. I make a lower calorie version all the time with packaged fat reduced real bacon bits. Love it. Green beans seem to go well with bacon.

There are so many great ways to eat green beans.

green beans EVOO garlic

 

When I lived in Brooklyn, NYC, we frequently ate green beans sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with garlic. In Italian neighborhoods, everyone’s momma and grandma made this and they scraped the sides of the frying pan too to get all the flavor.

 

Warm Greek Pasta Salad ~ yum

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The Finish!

I saw this recipe on a food website and the photo looked sooo good, but then the photos usually do. So, I said to myself, “Self, let’s try it”…and of course, I made some changes.

Note: I live alone and cook for one. However, I usually prepare food for two or three and freeze what I don’t eat for another meal. This recipe can be easily doubled.

So, let’s start with the warm part.

Boil water and cook 2 C of whole wheat pasta according to directions.

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Then, in a large skillet (I have a ceramic one I love that’s a semi-wok), liberally spray olive oil pan-spray,  saute 1/2 C roughly chopped red onion, 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the jarred variety), 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Cook until the onion begins to become translucent.

Add 1/2 a package of frozen chopped spinach (I used organic). When it appears to need more pan spray, I add 1/4 C water and let it steam. Also add 1/2 tsp jarred vegetable bouillon. I use very little salt and the bouillon has enough for me. Taste to see if you need to add salt. When thoroughly cooked, as seen above, add 4 tsp red wine vinegar and stir through. Turn off the burner and let it cool…but it will still be warm. Note: Don’t be afraid to taste as you cook. Professional cooks keep forks and spoons handy for tasting.

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Add the cooked whole wheat pasta to the spinach mixture. If you want to get rid of starch, first rinse the pasta with warm water, then add to skillet. (Note: I placed two portions into plastic containers. One I saved for later in the week, one I froze. Then later, when thawed and warmed, I would add the fresh ingredients.) But, this recipe if for the entire amount.

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Place entire amount of warm, cooked ingredients in serving dish large enough to add 1 C of sliced Kalamata olives, 2 chopped fresh plum tomatoes, [Note: You can use 1 1/2 C sliced cherry tomatoes. I think grape tomatoes are too small.] 2 Tbsp virgin olive oil (I used organic), 9 oz of crumbled feta cheese. Gently mix. That might seem like a lot of Feta, but it’s the protein for this dish.

This serves three for dinner, four for lunch. It can be easily doubled. You can serve it with a loaf of rustic bread. I don’t because I eat lowish/lower carb. Of course, if I have guests, I’d serve it with a loaf of bread and olive oil on the side to dunk the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Family Meal Has Been Hijacked

Mac 'n Cheese with tomato slices before it goes into the oven. Trust me it beats Kraft.
Mac ‘n Cheese with tomato slices before it goes into the oven. Trust me it beats Kraft…oh,there’s bacon on top too.

 

 

 

 

Cooking is fun. It must be. Millions watch cooking shows with regularity. In fact more watch cooking shows than actually cook.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.
Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.

 

 

One of the things I loved about my childhood was sitting down at the dinner table which we did every night. I particularly loved the holiday table at my grandmother’s house. It was so comfy, Uncle John told the funniest stories, and the food was great. There’s really nothing quite as good as the aromas coming out of a kitchen when a home cooked meal is being prepared. When you’ve eaten a good home cook’s Sunday friend chicken with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, Kentucky Fried Chicken just doesn’t cut it.

 

I recently read that in 1900 the average American family ate only 2% of meals out of the home. By 2010 Americans ate 50% of their meals out of the home. When they were home eating “together” it was quite usual for each family member to microwave their own frozen meal. If they actually sat down at the table together with their individual nuked food, it would be for less than 20 minutes.

 

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I cook. I love to stand in front of the stove and stir what I’ve got simmering in a pot. I love to open the oven to check on my baked chicken and revel in the garlic and onion aromas wafting over my kitchen and into the rest of the house. That’s wonderful and pleasurable to me. Sitting down at a set table and eating a well prepared, home cooked meal is pretty close to heavenly. It warms the cockles of my heart hearing: “I’ll have another helping of sweet potatoes” or “Wow, these carrots are good, can I have more?” or “pass the grated cheese.”

 

I could tell you studies show that kids who regularly sit down to a meal with their families are more well-adjusted than kids who don’t. I could point to research suggesting children who eat at home with their families have better grades and get into less trouble. I could ask you if you knew eating meals at home protects girls from anorexia and bulimia. But what I really want to tell you is how much fun it is to eat together. How great it is to cook together in the kitchen, and carry the platters out to the table.

 

Watching cooking on TV is fun. I do it all the time. But cooking at your own stove is more fun. Trust me. Shopping at the supermarket should be a wonderful sensory experience. There are red, round, ripe tomatoes waiting to be sliced and added to a sandwich. Yum. Anyone can do that. There’s a package of chop meat that would make a few hamburgers to share with family and friends and they won’t taste like the cardboard burgers you get at a fast food place. Put it on a good roll you got in the bakery section and plop one of those fresh cut tomato slices on it. Then eat! Eat! Enjoy the people at the table eating with you. After all, community starts at the dinner table.

Sauteed Fish ~ killing belly fat is murder

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“Baked fish again! That’s so boring,” ~ is the dieter’s lament, but it doesn’t have to be a breaded fish fry either. If you’ve cut waaay down on starch and carbs it’s essential to stay away from the dredging flour and bread crumbs.

Even if you’re not watching your waistline, it’s a good thing for every cook to have a basic sauteed fish recipe in their arsenal.

If I were to make a literary comparison, this would be a sub-genre, rather than a specific story.

  • Fish
  • Pan Fried Fish
  • Sauteed Fish

Rather than a specific recipe, it’s a way to cook no starch, low carb sauteed fish. If you’re like me, every time you make it, the dish will be slightly different. This depends upon your whim and what ingredients you have on hand.

You want flavor, so the first step is to saute some veggies and garlic. I took a small tomato chopped coarsely, two sliced cloves of garlic, and 1/8 to 1/4 C coarsely chopped red onion. Saute until tender in olive oil or canola oil. I stirred in a handful of fresh basil leaves. [But, you could just as easily add some coarsely chopped red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, or use oregano instead of basil. Or anything else you’ve got on hand.]

I have a secret seasoning (so please don’t tell anyone). I use an old Mrs. Dash shaker and mix together 1 Tbs garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/8 tsp chili powder. I love garlic, but if you don’t, when you saute the veggies, use one fresh sliced clove of garlic instead of two.

Sprinkle the secret seasoning to taste (here after called SS) on one side of four average size fish fillets. I often used flounder. Turn that side down in the pan. Do this with all four fillets. Make sure the heat is on medium to medium low, so you don’t burn the fish. Make sure you have enough oil so that you don’t burn the fish, but it shouldn’t be swimming. [Get it…fish swimming. Just a wee bit of humor, very wee.]

Sprinkle SS on the other side of the fish while they are in the pan. It only takes a minute of two for the fish to cook. Turn them once and cook another two minutes. Handle as little as possible, or the fillets will fall apart.

I arranged all four fillets on a plate for the photo, but when I serve I use a spatula and place two fillets on a plate, serving two people. Obviously the recipe is easily doubled or tripled. I serve this with steamed broccoli or with a fresh garden salad.

This is a recipe my heroine Veronica Ingels, gal PI, would like. As my contemporary series progresses, she gets more and more into healthy eating (all while hunting bad guys). However, this dish is good for anyone, but is especially good for those of us in mid-life who are heart-smart and waist conscious.