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.
Homemade Peanut Butter
Prep Time: About 8 minutes
What you need:
A Food Processor or blender if you have something like a VitaMix
A 1 lb. bag of Peanuts (we use roasted and lightly salted)
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.
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
You Will Need:
Large Mixing Bowl
Large Spoon for Mixing
9” x 13” Casserole Dish
Knife or Cleaver
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!)
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.
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.
I forget why, but back when my sister and I were kids we’d head over to our grandparent’s house many days after school and on Thursdays my grandmother would always be baking bread.
I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday, the squeak of the hinge from the door in the garage that lead into the kitchen, the way the wood louvered window shutters rattled when the door closed and most of all, the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven when you entered her kitchen.
I never really thought a thing about it. It never occurred to me this wonderfully comforting routine of years could be different. It is simply the way things were until they weren’t.
As I was to learn, arthritis plagued my grandmother’s hands, had for sometime, and finally it forced her to the realization that the strenuous ritual of hand kneading bread wasn’t doing her arthritis any good. Her days of bread baking were over. No such thing as a stand mixer with a dough hook in those days.
At that time I was sixteen or seventeen years old and my hands were just fine. So I asked my grandmother to teach me to bake bread. And she did. That started a ritual for me that has continued to this day and ranks high on my list of the most comforting, life-reaffirming things I do. Not to mention tasty.
Today I bake the weekly bread and work far less at it than my grandmother ever did. I have a big stand mixer with a dough hook that changed my life. I love it and I’ll probably take it with me when I go. Occasionally, I still hand knead a single loaf of yeast bread but mostly I leave the mixer in the corner because I’ve started allowing my bread to rise overnight, very slowly, and it needs no kneading.
Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the section on baking French baguettes in particular, aided my understanding of the value of a) the simplest and purest of ingredients and b) how a slow rise in bread baking is needed to develop truly exceptional flavor. So now, rather than starting a loaf in the morning and enjoying it for lunch, I allow our daily bread to rise overnight and enjoy if for breakfast.
Also, I suggest you switch out your traditional loaf pan for a Dutch oven with a heavy lid to capture the steam released from the dough during baking. By making this change you’ll create the kind of crispy crust loaf you only get from professional bakers with steam-injected ovens. Add in an overnight rise for taste and suddenly you’re on the road to baking some mighty fine artesian bread.
The below recipe for our Rustic Oatmeal Overnight Artisan Bread is substantial, filled with flavor and texture sporting a crispy, crunchy crust that will make every bite something special. Plus, it is simple and easy to make.
The day we filmed this episode, we had about a cup of left over steel-cut oatmeal in the fridge from the previous morning’s breakfast, so we tossed it into the dough. It adds that wonderful oatmeal taste but feel free to omit it or better yet, add your own favorite ingredients.
Rustic Overnight Oatmeal Artisan Bread
Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Rise Time: Overnight
Cooking Time: About 55 minutes
Tools you’ll need:
A Dutch oven (we recommend Le Creuset)
A Sturdy Wooden Spoon
A Large Bowl for Rising
4 Cups of Spelt (flour is fine)
1 cup Oatmeal (made from steel cut oatmeal)
1.5 tsp. Salt
1.0 tsp. Yeast
1.0 tsp. Sugar
1.5 cups of Water
To your mixing bowl add four cups of spelt.
To your flour add the cooked oatmeal and mix to combine.
Add the salt, yeast and sugar and mix to combine.
Add the water and combine to make dough. The dough will be sticky.
Allow your dough to rise overnight in a warm place
In the morning, preheat your oven to 450 degrees with your Dutch oven inside. While your oven is pre-heating,
turn out your risen dough onto a heavily floured work surface and shape into a ball. Allow your dough to rest until your oven is ready or if you’ve got the time let it continue to rise for another hour or two before baking.
When your oven is pre-heated, carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven, drop your dough into the pot seam side up, return the lid and return it to the oven. Immediately turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, removing the lid half way through the cooking time.
Pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees encourages what is called “yeast bloom” when the dough is placed into a hot oven. Accelerating the yeast with heat results in the creation of a higher rising dough.
Now, there are two different points of view on covered cooking time. Some bakers will tell you to cook your bread in the oven covered with the lid for the first half-hour then remove the lid to finish it off as we’ve done in our production. On the other hand, others believe it best to keep your bread covered the entire time.
I’ve done it both ways and will tell you keeping your bread covered the entire time will create a crisper crust but either way you go, the inside is creamy soft and tastes better than virtually any commercially available bread on the market. Keep in mind, depending upon your oven, cooking time should be reduced to 45 to 50 minutes to keep it from burning or becoming over crisp if you decide to keep your loaf covered the entire cooking time.
This is literally our daily bread, we bake it every week and hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Tell us how your loaf turns out.
I love eggs. I love eggs scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, baked in popovers, quiches and cakes. I can’t get enough and when I’m not eating whole eggs for breakfast or dinner, I’m eating egg white omelets stuffed with fresh herbs and tomatoes for breakfast or dinner.
One of my favorite sandwiches is the egg salad sandwich. The recipe below produces a classic egg salad perfect for salad or sandwiches. I don’t know where we ran across this recipe originally, if you search the web for egg salad recipes you will find many similar to this one.
After making your salad pile it high on homemade rye bread and give it a generous application of cracked black pepper. Mmm.
We love it and hope you will enjoy it as much as we do. Enjoy.
Classic Egg Salad
Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Cooking Time: About 15:00 minutes
Assembly Time: About 10:00 minutes
Tools you’ll need:
A Medium Mixing Bowl
6 Hard Boiled Eggs
¼ Cup Mayo or Vegenaise
1 Celery Rib, Diced Fine
3 TBS. Red Onion, Diced Fine
1 TBS. Dijon Mustard
1 TBS. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Boil your eggs gently for 12:00 to 15:00 minutes.
When cool enough to handle, peel your eggs and add them to your mixing bowl. If you find some or all of your eggs difficult to peal, crack the shells and submerge in cool water for peeling. During the peeling process water works its way under the shell membrane making it easier to peel your eggs. You’ll find you’re able to easily remove pieces of shell still attached to the membrane.
Now, dice your boiled eggs, I enjoy a fine dice and actually create the consistency you see in the above photo with the tines of a fork.
Fine dice a single stalk of fresh celery and add it to your eggs.
The evolution of this recipe is best described by Joni Mitchell when she sings, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” I figure Joni was reaching a little deeper than salsa with that line but that’s kind of how it was.
We grew up eating Tex-Mex and all the varieties of hot sauce and salsas regionally available, and in our universe we took for granted that these foods would always be available, in some form, everywhere.
When my wife and I left Texas for California we did not miss Salsa for she was there in all her spicy, lime, tomato, and cilantro goodness. What we lost in Tex-Mex we gained in Baja and Oaxaca styles and it was excellent. The fresh tomato and tomatillo salsas we grew up with now happily shared a place with the new fire-roasted and avocado based salsas we discovered in California.
Then we left California for western New York and we wept in the vast salsa wasteland. So desperate were we for Mexican food one evening we went to a Taco Bell. We ordered everything and at one point my wife said to the clerk, “Please, no red sauce on the frijoles.” To which the kid replied, “What’s a frijole?”
We turned to jar salsas but most tasted of stewed tomatoes with too much salt and varying degrees of heat. This tasteless wasteland lead us to the realization that we were going to need to learn to make it ourselves if we wanted to enjoy a good refreshing salsa.
So after many years of experimenting, we finally found the right combination of ingredients. We hope you enjoy this easy recipe as much as we do.
Homemade Fire Roasted Salsa
Prep Time: About 10:00 minutes
Processing Time: About :30 seconds
Tools you’ll need:
A Knife or Cleaver
½ large brown onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28oz. can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Whole Tomatoes
1 10 oz. can Rotel w/Chiles
1-cup fresh cilantro
1 TBS Oregano
1 TBS Cumin
1 tsp. Black Pepper
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
¼ cup Fresh Lime Juice
First, cut the onion into chunks and drop into the blender.
Mince the garlic and add it to the onion in the blender, pulse several times until well combined.
Add the cilantro and the remaining herbs.
Add the lime juice and pulse several times to your desired consistency.
Keep It Simple Stupid Lasagna evolved over the many years my wife spent trying to perfect her spaghetti sauce. Growing up with a step-dad from New York who had very serious ideas about what a good tomato sauce was supposed to be, she formed some extremely tasty notions at a very young age. She’ll occasionally reflect fondly on the hours and joy her step-dad put into each batch of his “secret” family sauce.
When she left for her freshman year of college her step-dad presented her with her very own spice kit, and like most broke, swimming to keep their heads above water freshmen, that spice kit was put to good use.
I am here to testify, brother and sisters that my babe’s spaghetti sauce is blue ribbon good and hasn’t been tasted in decades. I remember it fondly, early in our relationship, during a time of cats and kittens, she would spend the weekend working her alchemist secrets to pour over spaghetti or lasagna, and then we’d eat, took maybe fifteen minutes, then we’d discuss that great dichotomy.
Well that process evolved, twice. Once when we discovered Muir Glen Organic Pasta sauce, which is good stuff. And okay, maybe it’s not slaved over for 8-hours by your grandma but, Hell’s Bells, who has that kind of time?
And then we evolved again when we discovered no-boil lasagna noodles. No more boiling, no more wet noodles, no more tearing of noodles when you picked them up, no burned fingers, nada.
Talk about making it simple, with no-boil noodles and a jar of Muir Glen spaghetti sauce we’re able to enjoy lasagna on the spur of the moment. Throw in some garlic bread and a green salad, which is as easy as opening a bag these days and you got a fine comforting meal in no time.
Tools you’ll need:
9” x 9” Casserole Pan
A Spoon for Mixing
A Medium Mixing Bowl
1 25-oz jar Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce (or your favorite sauce, we like the Fire-Roasted version)
1 8-oz jar tomato sauce with oregano
1-box no-boil lasagna noodles (we like DeLallo organic wheat noodles but they take longer to cook)
1 16-oz carton low-fat cottage cheese (we love Nancy’s Cottage Cheese for it’s sharp bite but you can also use ricotta cheese)
1-cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
1 large egg
Dash of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl crack and whisk the egg then add the cottage cheese and nutmeg. Blend well.
In your 9” x 9” pan, add a layer the sauce, then noodles, ricotta/egg mixture and mozzarella.
Repeat with the desired number of layers you prefer but be careful you might need more cheese and sauce.
Yeah, yeah, I can almost hear some of you, “Roasted Okra, a mighty fine snack, who are you kidding?” Well not you I guess. Maybe it’s a southern thing, okra, nothing worse in the world than boiled okra, nothing better than fried okra. I can to this day remember my mother frying okra in our kitchen. She’d drag out this ancient electric frying pan to handle the job. Plugging it into the wall socket would make the lights dim. Man, they just don’t make `um like that anymore.
Frozen okra that most restaurants dare serve cannot hold a candle in taste or texture to home-fried cornmeal crusted okra. Never will floured, batter-fried packaged okra compete with the simple old-time recipe of dusting the okra with a little cornmeal, salt and pepper.
I love it, I eat it like popcorn and as I’ve become more educated about my health and the evils of too much fried food, I’ve had to adjust my thinking and that’s hard. I grew up eating fried foods, hell, I was born and raised in Texas and everybody knows we’ll fry anything. Butter, beer, watermelon, salsa, pizza – yes pizza, how about a deep fired chocolate chip burrito or chicken-fired bacon. (Don’t kid yourself, chicken fried bacon is a bite of Heaven and, I suppose, that’s where you’d end up if you ate too much.) Of all the things Texans have fried, one of my favorites is the deep-fried French-fry coated hot dog! Man, that’s Texas, deep in the artery-clogged heart of. Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.
So what’s the solution? Slow roasted okra from the oven works for me. Roasting fresh cut okra is so close to the taste, to me, of frying, that I doubt I’ll ever fry okra again. Best part, it’s easy! No hot oil to deal with, no grease splatter mess, no cornmeal, nada. Just fresh okra, olive oil and a little salt, your significant other will be impressed.
First, hit your local farmer’s market or grocery and bag up some fresh okra. When you get ready to cook your okra, pre-heat your oven to 350 or 375 degrees, depending on your oven. Some ovens run hotter or colder than others so, until you figure out roasting okra in your own oven, be prepared to keep an eye on the process and, you’re going to want to be flexible with your cooking time in the beginning too. Some ovens will produce perfect roast okra in twenty-minutes, other I’ve seen have taken thirty or longer to achieve that crispy crunch of happiness.
Next, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. While your over is pre-heating, wash your okra under running water.
Then, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
When you’re finished, head over to the cutting board.
Top and tail your okra then dice it into bite size pieces. Keep in mind that smaller pieces will cook much quicker than fatter ones so cut longer piece from smaller okras so it all cooks evenly. On a personal note, I like my okra to char on the ends. I enjoy the charred flavor and am convinced it contributes to my love of this recipe.
After you’ve got your okra chopped, dribble in olive oil and stir to coat, then add salt to taste.
We like the taste of large grain sea-salt and frankly, think it looks nice too. Once you’ve got your okra cut and ready for the oven, pour it onto your prepared sheet pan and pop it into the oven.
If you’re new to this recipe and not sure you want your okra to be the oven-dried salty snack we love so much, take your okra out early if you want to maintain a chewier consistency.
Be sure and watch our first video, my wife who actually prepared the okra in this video calls roasted okra the Ultimate Guy Snack Food. I agree. Not because it’s healthy, although it is. I love it because it tastes great.
For the record, okra is super good for your cardiovascular health, contains no fat, cholesterol and is low in calories and high in fiber with only one gram of sugar and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Okra is also stuffed full of antioxidants and contains vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin A.
Be brave, if you’re a savory loving Joe like me, you’re going to love oven-roasting okra.
As you may have gathered this is not your mom’s cooking blog. More like a deranged, heat-loving, fire-farting, crazy-uncle-you-never-knew-you-had-in-the-first-place kind of blog.
Now, you may find this heard to believe but men love to eat. Yep, you heard it here first and, since most men’s wives get hip to their tricks far faster than any of us were led to believe, we men find ourselves standing in front of the `fridge, door open, little spittle of drool dripping down our chin waiting for something in the fridge to jump into our mouths without the need for us to make a conscious decision.
One day I asked my wife, “Baby, how `bout tonight, after you’ve finished mowing the yard, you make me your famous bacon wrapped chicken breasts stuffed with dried beef?” “Can you read?” my little cinnamon-bun spat in my general direction. “Well, sure I can, you know I just read that instruction sheet on putting that Eye-Key-Uh chair together. She cuts her eyes my way and with a Wednesday Addams smile dropped the cleaver “… and how’d that go?” “But baby, I’m hungry,” I plead.
She walks into the kitchen, grabs a book off the self, and as she walk by embeds it in my usually firm and ripped belly, which today is suffering from way to many biscuits with cream gravy …and yes, a side of sage sausage too. Happy?
My point here is not that I’ve gone soft in the middle but that I learned it is far easier to cook for myself than starve. Hunger is a great motivator and being a man I am by nature somewhat relaxed. I don’t like the word lazy, it’s mean. I mean relaxed and relaxed never happens when there’s more than one pot for me to work with, watch or wash.
There it is, the dreaded 3W’s. Work, Watch and Wash. This kind of thing if not curtailed can cut sharply into buzz time. So, I decided that all I really needed to survive in the kitchen was a skillet, a Dutch oven, and a Yan Can Cook Chinese cleaver (and you better believe that mother is sharp). Oh, and for the record, I never — okay, usually never — use more that two of the above three implements of destruction for any one meal. Hence the title, One Pot Cooking for Men.
Read, watch and learn how easy it is to feed yourself better, cheaper and healthier than you could ever possibly imagine. Our recipes are sent to us from readers like you wanting to share something they love, or from our many friends and family members who love a good meal and an easy cleanup as much as you do.
We’re just getting started so patience please. Our goal is to support some of our blog recipes with instructional videos, believing as we do that seeing is doing. We hope you’ll read our blog often, check out new recipes, and tell your cooking challenged pals they’ve got a new friend at onepotcookingformen.com.
And if you get a chance visit our other websites. We cover gardening, helpful household hints, antiques and the arts. I bet you’ll find we already have a lot in common.