Jul 192017
 

Without doubt tomatoes are the leading reason folks get up off the couch in America and out into the garden. After you’ve tasted a store bought tomato and then compared it to a home grown tomato, you will become an avid gardener and you will do so because home grown tomatoes taste so much sweeter, so much juicer and so much better than store bought.

We love tomato season and these days there are many varieties to choose from at the farmer’s market or your local grocery store and that’s fine but we also enjoy growing our own tomatoes and hands-down prefer the taste of homegrown to store bought.

We’ve had all kinds of gardens –from a tilled up spot in our backyard, to the more sophisticated raised garden beds (less weeds), to patio gardens. We’ve grown tomatoes wherever we could and in all kinds of containers. This year we’re growing several tomato plants in 3 and 6-gallon plastic pots on the front deck in full sun.

Nothing fancy about it. Our good friend, Martin, wired up some pretty neat tomato cages from a roll of rabbit wire that works well around the outside of a 3-gallon pot and fits perfectly inside a 6-gallon size pot. Both support heavy summer growth and effectively support the tomatoes while they ripen.

Now when it comes to eating tomatoes we enjoy them every way imaginable. We slice `um and dice `um for sandwiches and soups, skillet caramelizing other tomatoes to adorn rosemary focaccia, we bake them slow in the oven mixed with herbs, cheese and garlic, (http://onepotcookingformen.com/cooking/roasted-tomatoes-with-garlic-and-herbs/) but when it comes to simple, health satisfying meals nothing in our book comes close to Panzanella salad.

When we think of Panzanella Salad, we think of the perfect summer lunch or dinner.  If you search the web for Panzanella Salad you will find many versions. Most have a vinaigrette dressing, ours does not. Our version is simple and fresh – bread, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice and Burrata cheese.

If you haven’t discovered Burrata cheese then you must look for it. It’s fresh mozzarella on the outside with a creamy texture on the inside. It’s truly delicious but if you can’t find Burrata, then fresh mozzarella works well too. We buy Burrata at Trader Joe’s in the dairy section in 8 oz. containers. Each container has two 4 oz. rounds and is really worth the effort if you can fine it.

 

Panzanella Salad
Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 10:00 minutes
Serves 4

Tools you’ll need:

A Large Bowl for Mixing
A Screen Strainer (for rinsing the tomatoes)
A Spoon for Stirring
A Kitchen Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:
Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Demi Baguette – we enjoy Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat baguette, day old is best
Olive Oil (to taste)
Burrata Cheese or fresh mozzarella
Lemon Juice (to taste)
Fresh basil (to taste)

Recipe:
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. 

 First, slice your baguette in bite size pieces.

Season with olive oil.

Toast in the Oven for 10:00 or until lightly toasted

As your bread toasts, wash and slice your tomatoes into half and quarters.

Add the lemon juice.

Add the olive oil.

Add the toasted bread and combine.

Add the Burrata cheese breaking into pieces with your fingers.

Add the fresh basil, stir to combine.

Enjoy!

FYI / If you love tomatoes and have yet to try growing your own, either in your backyard or in pots on the balcony or patio, we’ve provided you with links below that will answer all your growing questions, just click and we’ll do the rest.

 

May 172017
 

This is my father-in-law’s recipe. It is the perfect light meal for a warm summer night, outdoor concert, potluck or picnic. It tastes good warm, it tastes good cold and is frankly the best room temp pasta dish I’ve ever eaten. I have no clue to the recipe’s original origins but a quick Google search revealed a bucket full of orzo recipes including one with garlic and shrimp that’s got me thinking.

My father-in-law was a man’s man, one of those guys of a certain generation who expected his wife to prepare dinner. However, when he retired his daughter, my wife, suggested he might try cooking, after all, she told him, “Many of the great chefs are men.”

And while not enthusiastically receptive at first, that chef statement stuck with him and he started watching Graham Kerr during his morning exercise. Who could deny that watching a cooking show isn’t the best thing to do while exercising? Next thing you know he’s pulling recipes off the web and well, he discovered edible chemistry!

The man found a new passion and with it came kitchen gadgets galore, cookbooks, salmon en croute, email recipe swaps, homemade kitchen inventions such as his homemade Sausage Patty Pack designed to hold and safely dispense a single homemade breakfast sausage patty.

We all benefited from his new found passion, learned new things, ate well and probably drank too much but such is life.

This orzo recipe tastes best with tart lemons, not sweet Meyer lemons, and we use fresh oregano but of course any will do. As for the chicken, we buy smoked chicken breast from our local BBQ restaurant or a roast chicken from Costco. It makes for quick work and tastes great.

 

Orzo with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Prep Time: About 8:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 12:00 minutes

Serves 4

 

Tools you’ll need:

A Large Bowl for Mixing

A Screen Strainer

A Spoon for Stirring

A Kitchen Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

8 oz. Orzo – Lemon Flavored if possible

1 – 1.5 Cups Smoked or Roasted Chicken, Diced

.25 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, diced (add more if you like)

.25 cup Chicken Broth

1 Lemon

Olive Oil

Fresh oregano to taste

.5 cup Feta Cheese, Crumbled

 

 

Instructions:

Cook the past according to package directions, drain and place in a mixing bowl.

We found a Colorado orzo pasta that is lemon flavored, which really enhances this dish but plain orzo is good too.

Add the diced chicken and diced sun dried tomatoes and mix.

Add the ¼ cup of chicken broth. We use Wyler’s powder so you can make as much or as little as you need for a recipe. The broth moistens the pasta and adds a nice flavor but you could add pasta water if you don’t have stock.

Add the juice of half of the lemon. We like the lemony taste and frequently add more. It’s to your taste.

Drizzle some olive oil over the pasta, lightly. Note: if you used sun dried tomatoes packed in oil then you may not need to add olive oil or you can add a bit of the oil from the tomatoes.

If using fresh oregano chop and add to mixture. We use a small bunch. If you use dried oregano, start with a small amount and add more to your taste.

Add the feta crumbles and mix.  Taste and adjust seasonings – add salt to your taste and more lemon juice. You can eat it right away or chill and it’s even better the second day.

Enjoy!

May 082017
 

Historically speaking, I’m not a particularly mature human being, nor am I all that interested in being one. I like to mind my own business and am generally unaware of surrounding events. I clean up my own yard and have tried all my life to fly safely under the radar. I embrace the views of the 1960’s, try to live and let live and feel as the Beatles wrote, only a fool makes his world a little colder.

My utter lack of awareness was in full swing when Stella and I met and it was not love at first sight for her. Not even close. I chased the girl 3 years! For a date! Finally, in a moment of alcohol induced weakness or maybe pity, she agreed to have dinner with me. Let me set the stage, bluntly.

I was 25 years old and dumb as a bag of hammers where women were concerned and not all that advanced today. Fearing she would change her mind, I hustled her into the car and drove straight to Carlotta’s Cadillac, a cozy Mexican restaurant in Dallas near where we both worked.

We ordered, we drank, we laughed and had a great time and when the bill came I dropped my handy American Excess card onto the table and was promptly told, “I’m sorry sir, we don’t accept American Excess.” I checked my wallet and found three 1-dollar bills. I was screwed.

Stella, suddenly the gentleman at the table said, “No problem, I’ve got it covered,” and reached for her purse only then remembering she’d left it at the office. Great, our first date, one that took three years to get and I go all Jerome Horwitz![1] We’ll probably end up washing dishes. First date and last, crap!

This is where you 21st century people think, no problem I’ll pop out to the ATM and be back in a flash. No. Not in the 1970’s. There are no ATM machines. Need cash? Write a check, drive to the bank and get it cashed or maybe the local grocery store. The first ATM didn’t arrive until September 1969, making its public debut and dispensing cash to customers at Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York. [2]

Anyway, Stella said, “I’ll go to the office to get my purse, I don’t know if I have enough cash but I do have a Mastercard.” I said, “No way. Order more drinks and I’ll go get your purse.” And that’s exactly what I did. As best I can tell this event endeared me in the eyes of my then future wife and we’ve been together ever since. Now, before you go all Ward and June Cleaver on me, there’s more you need to know.

 

We were getting serious about our relationship and she decided she wanted to prepare a home cooked meal for me. I remember clearly how excited she was to have me over for dinner. Our first “home-cooked” meal, a meal she worked on all afternoon trying to get just right, overheating her non-air-conditioned one-bedroom flat by using the oven, a well known Texas no-no in in the summer.

I can still remember the grin on her face and the pride in her presentation as she set the bubbling hot, steaming casserole pan of chicken enchiladas on the table. The smell was Heaven, the melted cheeses coming together with the sour cream, the delicate sprinkle of green onions on top.

Onions on top!!??? Crap, I don’t like onions! In fact, I hate onions! What do I do??? And like the idiot I am, I told her I don’t eat onions.

There was this brief moment, this little pause that said so much as she realized I was not as advanced as the credit she afforded me and that “this” (read, us) was going to take more work than she’d realized.

For a moment, I thought I might be wearing those enchiladas but as grace would have it, Stella, far more mature, then and now, simply scrapped them off and we ate chicken enchiladas, drank cold beer on that very hot summer evening and she’s had a story to tell ever since.

The recipe below is for Stella’s Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, not quite the same recipe as that fateful evening, that recipe is long lost, but it’s close. This recipe is quick, easy and tastes a great deal better than the commercial chicken enchiladas you’re served at your local Mexican restaurant. Try these enchiladas. Muy delicisco!

Serve with rice (we like Zatarain’s Cilantro Lime Rice), ice cold Dos Equis and homemade salsa. See our Homemade Fire Roasted Salsa recipe at,

http://onepotcookingformen.com/cooking/homemade-fire-roasted-salsa/

And Stella, thanks for teaching me to eat onions and so much more.

 

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 30:00 minutes

Serves 4

 

Tools you’ll need:

8×12 Casserole Pan

Small Sauté Pan

Spoon

Knife or Cleaver

 

Ingredients:

2 cups diced leftover roasted chicken

4-6 green onions, chopped

½ – 1 cup of sour cream

2T cream cheese (optional)

½ t ground cumin (optional)

2 cups Monterey jack cheese grated

8-10 corn tortillas

16oz jar of Green Chili (we use King’s Chef medium Colorado Green Chili)

 

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the chicken and green onions.

Add the sour cream, cream cheese and cumin.

Stir to combine.  Add salt to taste. We don’t usually add salt.

If the tortillas aren’t super fresh, heat each one in small sauté pan on medium heat until slightly soft. This just takes a few seconds.  Fill each tortilla with the chicken mixture.

Top with a bit of the cheese and roll and add to the casserole dish.

Note: we spread a little bit of the chili in the bottom of the dish.

Pour the green chili over the top and add the remaining cheese.

Heat until bubbling and the cheese is melted – about 30 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

Note: We love Costco roasted chickens and always have leftovers. This is a good way to use that leftover chicken.

 

[1]   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curly_Howard

[2]   http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/first-atm-opens-for-business

Apr 102017
 

I confess that I prefer savory vegetarian meals to virtually all others. Unless we’re talking about a meat centric dish, i.e., barbeque, most meat based protein (bacon excepted) serves mostly as a seasoning deliver system.

If I want to taste sausage and eggs for breakfast, I grab the eggs, sage, thyme, garlic powder, a smidge of fennel, some black pepper and, “Presto!” a couple of shakes later and my scrambled eggs taste like sausage and eggs. I’ve scratched the sausage flavor itch without the pork fat and without stressing my body to digest several ounces of pork.

My point you ask? It’s not to convince you to stop eating meat but that’s not a bad idea. No, my point is that most meat is almost tasteless and, without seasoning is actual rather bland. What would some of your favorite meals taste like if you removed the seasoning? Think about breakfast sausage without sage, or crispy tacos without cumin and chili powder or Tandoori chicken without ginger! Pretty bland, right? Right.

My wife Stella (so not her name) enjoys ordering fully loaded mustard cheeseburgers and as soon as they arrive, removes the patty and eats the rest. She tastes the mustard, the tomato, the crisp bite of lettuce and dill pickle, the grilled onions, and the melted cheese. Without the meat, it’s just a texture difference, the burger tastes basically the same and you avoid all that extra fat.

This recipe has been a staple around here for years. Every overnight guest that has ever stayed at our house gets served some version of this quiche for breakfast. I make it up the day before, store it in the fridge and pop it into a hot oven to cook while everyone wakes-up with morning tea. It’s a wonderfully savory and satisfying breakfast and leftovers will disappear as a light dinner with a side salad.

Enjoy!

 

Savory Quinoa, Kale and Parmesan Quiche with Brown Rice Crust

Prep Time: About an Hour

Cooking Time: 40:00

 

What you need:

A Pie Pan

A Large Skillet

A Large Mixing Bowl

A Wire Whisk

A Spoon for Stirring

A Cleaver or Kitchen Knife

 

Ingredients:

The Crust:

1.5 cups cooked brown rice

1-cup Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 TBS Butter

The Slowly Sautéed Filling:

Olive Oil

1 small red onion / dice small and sauté

Half dozen mushrooms, diced small – white or brown

1 nice clove of garlic

Kale (curly) – 1.5 to 2.0 cups, chopped fork size

 

The Cold Filling:

2 large eggs

3 triangles of Laughing Cow cheese or .25 cup cream cheese

.5 cup cooked quinoa

1-cup sharp cheddar cheese

3 or 4 nice springs of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped small

Salt and pepper

 

Instructions: / Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

Heat the oil in the skillet and slowly begin to sauté the onions. When translucent add the mushrooms. These mushrooms add a nice meaty texture to our quiche as they cook. The water inside the mushrooms eventually burns off and they will begin to sauté. Continue to cook and when the onions start to caramelize add the garlic and chopped kale and sauté until the kale is wilted. Set off to cool.

Make the Crust:

In your large mixing bowl combine the brown rice and Parmesan Cheese; add the egg and stir to combine. Smear the tablespoon of butter into your pie pan and when coated, pour the combined rice mixture into your pan, patting the mixture into place until the bottom and sides of the pan are lined with the rice/cheese mixture.

Fill the Crust:

In the same bowl you just used to make your crust, crack the two eggs and add the Laughing Cow cheese wedges. Whisk until blended. To this egg mixture add the quinoa, cheese, fresh chopped rosemary and the entire contents of your now cooled skillet, add salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour and smooth this mixture into your prepared pie pan.

Bake for 40:00.

Enjoy!

Mar 152017
 

I don’t eat peanut butter because it’s good for me. Nor do I eat peanut butter because one study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming 2 tablespoons of peanut butter at least 5 days a week can lower the risk of developing diabetes by almost 30%. Every single 2-TBS serving has 3 mg of the powerful antioxidant vitamin E, 49 mg of bone-building magnesium, 208 mg of muscle-friendly potassium, and 0.17 mg of immunity-boosting vitamin B6. (1)

Nice, but I eat peanut butter because I love the taste. I love it as a salad dressing for gado-gado or as a dipping sauce for sate. I love it on bread toasted in the broiler until it just begins to char. I love it licked off a spoon. And it makes Jamaican Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew something to yearn for.

What I don’t love is the price of good peanut butter today. Peanut butter, like any other food product in the market place can be good, bad and a whole lot of places in between. It comes down to your goal, greed, profit margin, quality of raw materials, manufacturing methods, organic – yes, no, etc.

Just seek out a good tasting organic, non-hydrogenated, low salt peanut butter. I find that exactly in Santa Cruz Dark Roasted Peanut Butter. I think this is one of the best tasting peanut butters on the commercial market. I‘ve been a fan for many years and over those years, the price for peanut butter, like everything else, has gone up and up and up.

Today, Santa Cruz, Organic, Dark Roasted is just shy $6.00 a jar. Raw peanuts are wholesaling for $1.44 lb. but where would I put 30 lbs. of peanuts? My neighborhood Trader Joe’s sells raw and roasted, salted and unsalted peanuts in the 1 lb. bag for $2.29 and that’s what I generally buy unless I run across some organics somewhere.

And, since I have food processor I turn that $2.29 bag of peanuts into the best tasting peanut butter you’ve ever eaten. The processor makes quick work of it and we’re able to control the salt level, make it smooth or crunchy and, because we made it ourselves saved $3.70 a pound. Best of all, the peanut butter tastes really great, better than anything you can buy at the market.

Give it a try. Get yourselves some good peanuts and drag out the food processor.

You’ll never buy store bought again.

Enjoy

 

Homemade Peanut Butter

Prep Time: About 8 minutes

 

What you need:

A Food Processor or blender if you have something like a VitaMix

 

Ingredients:

A 1 lb. bag of Peanuts (we use roasted and lightly salted)

 

Instructions:

Empty the bag of peanuts into the food processor.

Process for about 8 minutes.

Time will probably vary with different processors.  Pour up and allow to cool.

Enjoy!

(1) / http://www.prevention.com/food/smart-shopping/healthy-eating-why-peanut-butter-good-you
Jan 252017
 

Let’s talk yogurt. Why? Because I don’t get it. I mean, I get it a little. A cold mango lassi on a hot day, sure. Artichokes with Parmesan served under a black pepper yogurt dipping sauce, of course. Adding a pint of plain yogurt (sure, try finding a “pint” of plain full fat yogurt) to my tofu curry rather than sour cream, I get that too.

But in every case I just mentioned, that’s full-fat, plain yogurt I’m talking about. Yogurt is an ingredient to me, not a featured item. I had no clue the extent to which the US yogurt market had been infiltrated by Icelandic, Australian, Greek, French and Japanese yogurt brands. I gotta get out more.

Last week I’m off to the store and Stella (so not her real name) said, “Hey, while you’re at the store, would you pick up some Blackberry Serrano yogurt for me.” “Sure”, I say, like the idiot I am. I should have written it down. What do I find when I get to the store? Yogurt-palooza!

Geez. It looks like the beer aisle.   So I admit it, I’m a guy; yogurt doesn’t really fall into my survival list of foods I can’t live without. BBQ potato chips, on the list. Beef summer sausage, absolutely. Peanut butter stuffed pretzels, of course. Blackberry Serrano yogurt? Blackberry Serrano yogurt? AYKM? Really? Really?

Really, it’s true. Look at this picture.

Yogurt! All of it! Looks like the beer aisle right? Wrong. It IS the yogurt aisle and for the record, Stella loves this stuff for breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or dessert.

Now, fast forward to me, ingredient boy, standing in the middle of the aisle, looking for something called Blackberry Serrano yogurt. I’m calling home, begging, “Stella, what is the brand name of that darn yogurt and, why didn’t you warn me?”

“Noosa, the brand is Noosa,” she tells me, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Then, nonchalantly, just happens to mention that maybe I should’ve written it down. “But baby,” I say, “I can’t help being born a man and geez, let’s be honest, do you really want me to start multi-tasking at this stage of the game? Me? Hmm? I don’t think so.”

Finally, there it is, Blackberry Serrano yogurt, well, yippee-ki-yay, you can take the girl out of Texas but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. Stella and the Hot Stuff, you’d think I was talking about a band but No! My girl eats Serrano peppers in her breakfast yogurt, the kid’s tough.

I blame Australia! I know this isn’t true but if we’d never gone to Sydney, Australia and never gone into the market down the street from our hotel, I tell myself she never would’ve discovered this whole new world of yogurt.

I lie to myself. I do it all the time because it comforts me. There’s a Chinese proverb that goes, may you live in interesting times. Well thanks, I do. Truth is, these days I’m a little stressed and no joke, I’m looking for the guy that proverb belongs to. I guess I’m in need of more wisdom.

For two or three years after returning from Australia, Stella would wax nostalgic about how she’d love some more Australian yogurt. She tried lots of different brands but nothing lived up to her Australian experience. Well, it turns out she wasn’t alone.

Enter Koel Thomae, an Aussie ex-pat now living in Colorado and co-founder of the Noosa Yoghurt Company. It happened that Koel was doing her own “jonesing” for the creamy hometown taste of the passion fruit yogurt she so loved from Australia’s Sunshine Coast.

She seeks out Rob Graves, a fourth-generation dairy farmer with some serious milk credentials and together they decide to make yogurt and this was the beginning of Noosa Yoghurt, a company born out of an itch that needed a good scratch.

Now, Stella can have her thick creamy fix whenever she wants it. Her favorite flavors are Blackberry Serrano, Pineapple Jalapeno, Honey, and Orange and Ginger.

Don’t worry. If you’re not into heat, these guys have gone major creative with lots of other flavors. How about Salted Caramel or Mexican Chocolate or Coconut, maybe Key Lime or Blood Orange? Not enough? Try the Bhakti Chia or Strawberry Rhubarb or Pumpkin; better yet go with the Pear and Cardamom yogurt – one of Stella’s new favorites. Cue the “swooning girls” sound effect.

Ok, I admit that I kind of like it too. I’m sure a lot of guys like yogurt, wink, wink.

Noosa is a big hit around here and is produced in Bellvue, Colorado right down the road from the Howling Cow Café. I realize you probably don’t know where that is but I love saying Howling Cow Café and if you do go there, I suggest the bagel sandwiches.

As for yogurt and me, I’ll do my part but truth is, I’m holding out for Pina Colada. I know, it sounds a little fussy but I eat quiche too.

You can check Noosa out at www.noosayoghurt.com.

Jan 162017
 

Recently we enjoyed a fine evening with some dear friends that featured a really great family style meal. Our friend Peg prepared baked salmon, salad and a rice side dish that I could have eaten single handedly. My wife, Stella (so not her real name) managed to maintain the appearance of propriety and limited herself to a single portion of this amazing rice dish.

I did not even try to resist. I’d never eaten anything like this rice casserole before, said so, and saw Peg’s husband, Terry, look at me with pity and sad eyes. He could see that I sadly had a rice-less casserole upbringing, so he explained to me rice dishes of this type are numerous and wonderful. Wow, what culinary rock had I been living under for decades?

I did help myself to seconds, I used a smallish serving spoon in an effort to minimize Stella’s embarrassment but as it turned out Stella was wishing she had helped herself to seconds too.

On our short drive back home that evening we talked mostly of this rice casserole dish and how we would make it. Two days later we were in the kitchen re-creating “Peg’s” Rice Casserole. We made half the recipe then convinced ourselves it was okay to eat it all because we were only each eating half of the half. (I know that’s disturbing.)

As the recipe evolved, we started imagining ways to turn it into a main course and that’s just what we did. We have no idea where the original recipe comes from but here’s Peg’s perfect side-dish recipe:

Cheese Baked Rice Side Dish

3 cups cooked rice

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

A Can Opener

1-cup cheddar cheese

Mix it all together and pour into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  The above recipe is delicious but here’s how we modified it, made it even easier to prepare for the out-of-time-cook and turned it into a main-dish.

 

Cheesy Green Chili Rice Casserole with Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst

Serves:
Four

You Will Need:

Large Mixing Bowl

Large Spoon for Mixing

9” x 13” Casserole Dish

Cheese Grater

Knife or Cleaver

Ingredients:

2 pkgs. Pre-cooked rice (see note below)

1 7oz. can of diced green chilies

2 cups sour cream

1 cup cheddar cheese – or more if you want it super cheesy

2 cups diced ham, sausage, turkey, chicken, fried tofu – your choice

(For the record we used Teton Waters 100% Grass-Fed Beef, Uncured Jalapeno Cheddar Bratwurst and it was great!)


Instructions:

Cook the rice per the instructions on the package and pour the steamed rice into your mixing bowl.

Add the green chilies to rice and stir to combine.

Add your protein choice, in this case the jalapeno bratwurst…

…and stir to combine.

Next fold in the sour cream.

When combined add the cheddar cheese.

Turn into the greased casserole dish.

Smooth out with a spoon and and bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until the rice is bubbling around the edges and lightly browned.

This is so easy and so tasty and a great dish to make after the holidays when you have leftover turkey or ham. And now Stella and I are imagining other creations using this recipe idea. Watch this blog for more to come.

Enjoy!

NOTE: You will find pre-cooked rice in packages in the rice section in the grocery store. There are so many varieties these days and all you have to do is pop the bag in the microwave for a couple of minutes. We used Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown rice with Garlic, which we buy economically at Costco. Of course it is much cheaper to cook rice but using the pre-cooked rice makes this an easy dish to prepare in a hurry.

Dec 192016
 

One of our favorite places to eat in Austin, Texas is Mandola’s Italian Market. We’ve enjoyed many delicious meals there with our good friends Susan and Joe (we miss you guys). The other day my wife was longing for her favorite Mandola’s dish “Spaghettini Ortolano” so she decided to make her own version. And it was delicious. There’s a bit of chopping but this is a simple recipe. And you can vary the veggies to your own preferences.

Serves:  Two

What you’ll need:

Spaghetti Pot

Sauté Pan

Tongs

Ingredients:

6 oz brown rice spaghetti

Olive oil

½ onion – chopped

1 large garlic clove – chopped

7 Asparagus spears – cut in pieces

3 Mushrooms cut in pieces

¼ Zucchini cut into pieces

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into pieces

¼ cup frozen peas

¼ cup chicken broth

Baby spinach – a handful or as much as you want

Salt (optional)

Pine nuts, toasted

Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

You can prepare the veggies while waiting for the pasta water to come to a boil.

After you’ve put the pasta into the boiling water, begin sautéing veggies in the order listed above,

adding each next veggie after about one minute of cooking time.

After adding the peas cover and cook about 3 minutes,

then add broth and continue to cook while you are waiting for the pasta to finish cooking. If you are using brown rice pasta, it will take about 18 minutes for the pasta to cook. If you are using regular pasta, then you might need to keep the pasta warm until the veggies are cooked. You want your veggies and the pasta to be al dente.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the veggies and then stir in the fresh spinach.

Top each serving with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Dec 012016
 

turning-filet

Deep in the heart of Texas you’ll find a cool print graphic and web design company called GRAFIX togo (http://grafixtogo.com) run by Diana Stokely who is so tech savvy I’ve driven from Colorado to Texas, twice, just to bask in the luminosity of her brain.

Diana shepherds our One Pot Cooking for Men website and does her best to keep me out of trouble. Her tech-net-guru understanding appears to come naturally; she served the University of Virginia’s High Energy Physics grad students as a technical administrator for many years. The girl has a brain.

As it turns out, the international diversity of the student body made for some fab dinner parties. This recipe is from one of those dinner parties held by Russian physics students. It should be noted this is the single strangest sounding recipe to ever grace a kitchen table. I simply couldn’t imagine it being a cold weather comfort food staple.

When Diana first told me about this dish I thought, oh the poor dear, she’s one of those high functioning types that doesn’t know the difference between dining and eating.

That was wrong. Not only has Diana forgotten more about high energy physics and website design than I will ever know, she knows good comfort food.

I know this combination of ingredients sounds strange but it only sounds strange. It tastes wonderful, is easy to prepare and is perfect for the budget minded foodie looking to try something uniquely different.

So if you’re looking for a healthy, wonderful comfort meal for dinner or one of those “never eaten that” type of recipe to spring on your friends at your next dinner party, this is one they’ll not see coming.

Serve alongside something green, with rice or pasta and hearty bread for sopping up the sauce. Wonderful!

 

Russian Fish

beauty-shotserve-shot

Serves:
Two

You Will Need:
Skillet
Dutch Oven
Knife

Ingredients:
1 fillet of white fish (about 4oz), per person, cut into fourths (we used frozen Cod)
Flour for dredging
1 T Oil for browning / more if needed (we used Olive)
Onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
Milk (we used whole)
Salt and Pepper

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Cooking Instructions:

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and dredge the cut fish pieces in the flour mixture.

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Add the oil to the skillet and when hot, lightly brown both sides of the fish pieces until they color, about one-minute per side.

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Layer the browned fish in the Dutch oven alternating with onion-strings, adding salt and pepper to each layer to taste.

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Pour the milk over the top of the layered fish and onions until nearly covered.

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Place the lid on the pot and pop into a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 20:00 to 25:00 minutes.

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Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Enjoy!

Oct 262016
 

Way back in the 1960’s, when people still thought science was a pretty good idea, the Russelmann family of New York, enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon reading the Schenectady Gazette, happened upon a recipe for Choucroute Garnie. Choucroute Garnie means sauerkraut topped with sausages and layered with lots of salty meats. However in this version a layer of lean bacon is used to line a 9” x 9” casserole dish. Sauerkraut tops the bacon and is in turn topped with pancetta and sausages. Then, a couple of bottles of fine German Pils gets poured over the top for good measure and slow roasted to perfection. Sounds good.

Anita, from Texas, sent us this recipe and a photograph of her Choucroute Garnie, and we immediately gave this recipe a try. We did however get tired of mispronouncing Choucroute Garnie so we renamed the recipe, Anita’s German Sausage with Sauerkraut in Beer.

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Anita’s Photo of her Choucroute Garnie

This recipe is pure comfort food. It takes very little prep time but does require a smattering of your attention from time to time. It does take hours in the oven to cook but do not be dissuaded, this recipe is one of the best one-pot meals we’ve ever eaten and is well worth the effort. Most of the cooking time you’re free to pursue other activities.

This recipe is a modified version of the original published in the Schenectady Gazette. That recipe had you lining the bottom of your casserole dish with pork rinds rather than lean bacon, and then layering with sauerkraut, salt pork, smoked pork loin, knockwurst and pork sausage links. Yikes that’s a lot of meat. Thankfully, Anita’s version is much simpler.

Anita tells us she often uses bratwurst or a hearty German or Polish sausage ring, as they’re really good and a lot easier to find at any grocery. She made her version with Wenzel’s German sausage rings. If you’re ever in Hamilton, Texas be sure to check out Wenzel’s. Pork butt Fridays are the best.

 

Anita’s German Sausage with Sauerkraut in Beer

Serves 4

Prep Time: About 20:00 minutes

Cooking Time: About 4:00 hours

 

Tools you’ll need:

A 9” x 9” Casserole Dish

 

Ingredients:

Lean Bacon

2.5 lb. Sauerkraut (Anita says the jar variety is best)

3-4 Garlic cloves, Diced

Pancetta (note this is our addition to the recipe and is optional)

4 Brats or German Sausages or Polish sausage rings (enough for 4)

2-3 cans or bottles of beer – your choice

Salt and Pepper to Taste

 

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

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Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 casserole dish with bacon.

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Drain the sauerkraut. Using half, arrange the kraut in a layer in the bottom of your casserole dish.

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Sprinkle with half the chopped garlic and add pepper to taste.

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Add second layer sauerkraut, top with remainder of chopped garlic and season with pepper to taste.

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Pour two bottles of beer over the casserole and cook in your oven for two-hours.

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Remove and add the pancetta, returning the casserole to the oven and baking for an additional hour at 275 degrees.

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Remove and add your sausage, returning the casserole to the oven for an additional hour.

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Serve with roasted rosemary potatoes, hearty homemade rye, some good spicy mustard and beer.

Note:  Be prepared to add additional beer if it begins to dry out too much. This is a great dish to make, as the weather turns cooler. Enjoy!