Thursday, October 25, 2012

Marinated olives

     I haven't been very faithful about blogging my recipes.  Just been too busy with retirement.  But this Thanksgiving I made some pretty darn good and pretty easy marinated olives for an appetizer.  They are better as they sit in the marinade.  Simple and not too many ingredients.

1 can black pitted olives drained and rinsed.
1 can green pitted olives drained and rinsed.
1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar to cover olives while you fix the rest of the marinade
juice of 1large lime ( about a 1/4 cup)
juice of 1 large lemon (a little less than 1/2 cup)
juice of 1/2 of orange juice (a couple of heaping TBSPs)
slivers of 4 large cloves of garlic  (Cut large cloves in very thin pieces.)
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 heaping TBSP minced basil
1 heaping TBSP minced parsley

s/p to taste.  You'll need more pepper than salt.

1. Put the olives in a bowl and cover with apple cider vinegar.
2. Combine the juices of the lime, orange and lemon.
3. Add the other ingredients to lemon and lime juice.
4. Stir to combine juices and herbs.
5. Drain the olives well  of the vinegar  and add to the bowl of citrus juices and herbs.
6.  Stir to mix up olives and the other ingredients.
7.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.  Better over night.

This looks nice if you add the zest  of orange and or lemon peels. Put out a bowl for toothpicks and a basket of soft bread.  Don't be surprised  if you see people dunking the bread into the juice.  It's oh so good!
Donnie and Nessa's Anniversary Mango Salad
     I was happy last Sunday to celebrate an anniversary with my daughter and son-in-law.  I was inspired to make this salad.  I do not know why I had never thought to make this before.  It was super simple.
     As I was making this salad,  I felt my mom guiding me through it.  Anessa was her first grand daughter.  They shared a very special relationship. It really was delicious!

chunks of 5 ripe firm mangoes (better that they be just this side of ripe)
1 red pepper seeded and cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper seeded and cut into chunks
If I had had a green pepper I would have used it instead I used 1 celery stalk, the outer greenest stalk cut into chunks
1/2 purple onion diced
1/4 cup of roughly cut apple mint (it's what I grow out front but I am sure ANY mint would do.)
1/8 cup roughly cut cilantro ( for cilantro haters use parsley)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp baking soda (I just read that this makes things taste sweeter.)
if I had an avocado that was firm ripe, I would have diced it .
                        Lentil Veggie Stew

     As so often happens in my cooking I get very inspired and influenced by foods when  I eat out.  My friend Ginna and I went to lunch at the Khyber Pass, an Afghanistan restaurant.  She had a vegetable sampler plate that she was willing to let me share. The smells and flavors were amazing.  So, inspired by the lentils that were served, I came home and made NOTHING like it.  I just am not familiar enough with the spices.  But trust me, I am now on a quest.  I often go to ethnic markets and buy random spices.  I love the smells and exotic flavors.  I bought ponch phoram a few months ago. I had used this particular spice on chicken. I am sure that you could make this stew without it. Or use the 5 spices that make up this Indian blend.
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Nigella seeds
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Mustard seeds
     This stew came about because I was going to be eating by myself and I am beginning to make a little headway with the weight loss.  So, I decided I'd eat a vegetarian low fat meal, something my son and husband are not fond of eating for dinner.  They never complain but I can tell they'd rather have meat of some sort. Voila, this stew was born. I have to explore this kind of cooking a little more to get some of the flavors right or closer but I used what I had on hand. This was very comforting and filling stew.  I make my family lentil soup during Lent but this was decidedly different. Okay, here goes...

1 tsp butter
1/2 diced onion
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 celery stalk diced
1 carrot diced
1/2 yellow pepper diced
1 large tomato (I used a heirloom beefsteak) diced
2 dried chili peppers cut
4 bay leaves (they were smallish)
1 tsp ponch phoram  (this I found was an Indian 5 spice not to be confused with Chinese 5 spice)
6 cups liquid I used 3 homemade veggie broth and 3 water)
2 cups of lentils

2+ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

mixture of dry mint 1/2 tsp (dried from my garden but I bet you could use a tea bag) and dried oregano 1/2 tsp (also from my garden) I added a pinch of this to my bowl of lentils.

  1. Put the first 3 ingredients in a pot. Just soften garlic and onion.
  2. Add the rest of the veggies and stir until mixture is incorporated.
  3. Add everything else except the lentils and bring liquid to a boil add lentils.
  4. Boil for a few minutes and then cover and lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 15-20 min.
  5. Serve with a little yogurt, chopped cilantro and small wedge of lime.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stir Fry Sauce

     Before I forget....
Stir Fry Sauce For Shelley
2 TBSP soy sauce
 2 TBSP rice wine vinegar 
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
 1 tsp. grated ginger 
1 tsp sesame oil 
2 grated garlic cloves

 Put all in a bow and whisk. Taste it and adjust by adding more soy or more vinegar a 1/2 tsp at a time. Stir fry your meat and then add this when you add your veggies. When you serve sprinkle with sesame seeds if you have them and scallions. Most recipes add sugar but I find that the rice vinegar is sweet enough. Let me know what you think. And you can be as critical as you need to be.

Heavenly Inspired Turkey Meatballs Over Rice

    Photo: This was dinner tonight. Heavenly turkey meatballs. Find the recipe on my blog. However give me a few minutes to update this version which is the more adult version than the one I did for my niece Karen. I believe in angels.  I believe in an after life. I believe our heaven will be more of what we learned to love on earth. I love to cook and feed people.  Sometimes I will dream whole scenarios where I am cooking for someone.  While I am cooking, I believe, I get divine intervention from all of the wonderful cooks in my family who have passed on. I call them my Cooking Angels.  
     Last night I had a dream where my niece called and asked me to pick up her boys and take them home and feed them because she had been delayed.  THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN REAL LIFE.  So it caught my attention.  Not knowing what they like to eat I made the meatballs that are described here.  I have never made these meatballs.  I am sure though that I have read about them and maybe even eaten them. I asked her this morning if her boys liked meatballs. She said they did. So here is my version of these meatballs.  If you know my cooking you will immediately see my additions. You can omit the addition of veggies and proceed through the recipe without them.  It's just my tricky way I got my kids to eat more veggies.  So here you have my.....

Heavenly Inspired Turkey Meatballs Over Rice

In a saucepan bring 2 cups of water to a boil. When boiling add 1 tsp of salt. Add 1 cup of white rice. Lower heat to a simmer and put on lid.

1 TBSP cooking oil in a skillet. Put over medium  heat.

1 pound ground turkey (could use beef)
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 TBSP milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs seasoned

1 TBSP grated zucchini (I used the middle sized holes.  In the one pictured, I did not.  I used the largest.)
1 TBSP grated carrot  (See note above.)
1 TBSP grated onion    (See note above.)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (In the more adult version I added red pepper flakes and kale.)

For the one I made tonight I also sliced 1/2 of a bell pepper, 1/4 of an onion and 1 zucchini. I garnished with the  canned pineapple chunks.

parsley to garnish

  1. In a  bowl, whisk the egg and the milk and add the ground turkey. 
  2. Using your fingers lightly mix in the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Form into a ball smaller than a ping pong ball. If the mixture feels too wet add a tsp. of breadcrumbs at a time to get meatballs to hold their shape. 
  4. Without overlapping place meatballs in skillet. Brown meatballs. This will take about 5-6 minutes.

1 cup of grape jelly (In the one I made tonight,  I didn't have grape jelly so I used 1 TBSP guava jelly, 1 TBSP Boysenberry jelly,  1 TBSP lime juice  and 2 passion fruits.)
1 cup of catsup (Can also add chili sauce.  Apparently Heinz makes the one used in the original recipe.)
In the more adult like version I used 1/2 cup of red Zinfandel wine and 1/2 cup of juice from the can of pineapple. I also added 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar because it was just too sweet for me.)

  1. Put the ingredients over a medium heat. Stir until jelly has melted.
  2. Pour over the meatballs. Stir to coat the meatballs. Simmer for about another 5 minutes. Now I would put a spoonful of rice on the plate and add pineapple rings and green pepper rings that I would have cooked in the sauce after the meatballs had browned. But as is, this is a pretty tasty dish. I would also use brown or a combo of brown and wild rice instead of the white but it takes lots longer to cook brown rice.  
  3. Parsley to garnish if you're  feeling fancy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Fishy Fish Here

     The one common complaint I hear from non fish eaters is that fish tastes fishy.  I agree that there is some degree of truth to that but some fish is so mild that it will taste anything but fishy. By the way, some people actually like fishy tasting fish.  I for one, LOVE anchovies and sardines. Pretty fishy stuff if not done properly and with finesse. But back to non fishy fish.  Talapia is NOT fishy.  It is a white, often farmed grown fish which is very mild tasting.  One friend told me, years ago, that talapia was a "bottom feeder" and that was disgusting. I wondered then, as I do now, whether she was aware of what our cattle eat these days.  Anyway, far from the politics of food, this is number 6 in a series of meals that I am creating for my niece. Happy to announce that her chicken thighs last night were a hit and they were MOIST!!!! I have to say that I wish I could run over and take Channel a few herbs and pantry products that would make this recipe making easier for me.  But that is not what I am doing.  I am using what she already has on hand and making a scrumptious meal out of those ingredients. There is a lot more clock watching with these recipes because of the brown rice.  Next time I may write the recipe for baked brown rice. There are also nice leftovers for a great fish sandwich. goes  
Super Simple Supper #6
Golden Pan Fried Talapia with a white sauce and veggie relish
brown rice almonds
Heat a skillet over high heat.
A foil lined baking sheet sprayed with PAM.
Oven set at 250.
Pot with lid for the rice.

Any time during the day when you have a few minutes you could throw this salad together.
It would be very easy to slice some carrots, zucchini  and cucumber using a potato peeler and splashing 2 TBSP of vinegar and 1 tsp. of oil to make a cold veggie side dish. A dash of salt, sugar and  pepper and there you have  a really pretty and easy salad. 

Rice (About 4 servings.)
Begin with the brown rice. It'll take the longest. Begin the rice about 45 min. before you start the fish.
1 TBSP. minced onions
1 TBSP minced mushrooms
1 TBSP  minced celery

1 tsp of oil
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cups of water
1 Splash of oil 
1/4 cup of almond
  1. Saute onions, celery and mushrooms together in a pot that has a lid for about 5 min.  Stir often.  Lower heat.
  2. Rinse the rice in water and strain. Add rice to pot. Add the 2 1/2 cups water.
  3. Bring to a rolling boil.  Boil for 5 min. Stir.
  4. Reduce to med./ low and cook for 20-30 min. 
  5. After 30 min. put the lid to the side of the pot so that there is a gap where vapor can escape.
  6. Simmer until almost dry. (You can check the water level by tipping the pot to one side to see if there is any liquid.) When almost dry, turn off heat and let sit for 10 min.
  7. In a skillet, can be the one you use for the fish, just wipe it clean, put about 1/4 cup  of almonds. If whole,  pound and make into crumbs. Then with a little butter or oil in the pan stir the almonds around over med. heat until you can begin to smell them. Sprinkle over the rice.

1 TBSP oil 
1 TBSP butter (margarine is okay)
4 talapia fillets rinsed in cold water and dried with a paper towel  (this step is very important)
1/4 cup of milk
2 egg 
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
finely minced parsley
1/2 tsp of garlic powder 
1 tsp of lemon zest (or lime)
lemon (or lime)  slices and minced parsley for garnish over each fish after you put on the sauce.
TO BUY AND TO ADD NEXT TIME; 1/2 TSP DRIED THYME ADDED TO THE BREAD CRUMBS WOULD BE EXCELLENT. A small jar of capers for garnish would also be great. 
  1. Put the oil and margarine in a skillet and put over med. high heat. If it starts to smoke before you have put the fillets in, lower the heat. (You could use PAM but for this dish you want the flavor of the butter.)
  2.  In a bowl whisk the milk and egg whites until well blended and frothy. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. To the bread crumbs add the finely minced parsley, garlic powder and lemon zest. Fluff with your fingers until well incorporated.  Do not smoosh!
  4. Dip the dried talapia fillets in the bread crumbs and then into the egg.  Do it again. In the crumbs and then in the egg. Now carefully place the fillet in the pan. Do not crowd the pan.  It will be easier for you to do one fillet at a time.
  5. Fry gently over this med. high heat for about 4-5 min. on each side.  Using a spatula carefully left and flip the fillets. You want a nice golden brown color on both sides. Gently left the corner of the fish and check.  Continue with all the fillets placing them on the foil lined baking pan.  Put them in the oven while you finish the meal.
2 TBSP minced onion
1 TBSP minced green pepper
1 TBSP carrots
1 tsp minced celery
3 TBSP mayo
1 tsp sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice (or lime juice)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp of salt
dash of pepper

  1. Put the first 4 ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork.
This sauce is meant to go on the warm  fish cold.  One heaping tsp. should be enough for each fillet. Garnish the fish with a thin slice of lemon and some parsley.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Make it with what you have on hand Stuffed Chicken

     There will be no picture for this because although I am writing for anyone who might be interested, my real only talent lies in making pretty delicious meals from what I have on hand.  My daughter, Anessa even came up with a cute name if the Food Network ever got wind of this. So, with that in mind, I told my niece to list everything she had in her pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  I then took  that list and created a few meals that are healthy, not complicated and somewhat fast. Maybe I can get my niece to post a picture of the chicken and I can add it later. If you would like me to do this for you, send me a list of what you have to work with and I'll do my best to come up with something heavenly.This is

Simple Supper #4 Stuffed Chicken Thighs.

Preheat oven to 350
Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut another sheet a foil that you will tent over the chicken.
Bring a pot of water to a boil.

4-6 boneless skinless thighs slightly flattened by putting them one at a time between 2 sheets of waxed paper and banging with a heavy skillet.  I am looking for flat and pretty uniform.  Not paper thin.
About a TBSP of EVOO to rub onto the chicken.
garlic powder, salt and pepper to season the chicken

about 1/4 cup shredded zucchini dry it on a paper towel.  (Use the rest for salad.)
1 heaping Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 diced poratabella mushroom divided 1/4 cup for the filling the rest for the sauce (You will use some for a sauce.)
1/4 of an onion sliced very thinly
1 TBSP shredded carrot (Use the rest for your salad.)
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs.  (If your bread crumbs are not seasoned add a little salt and pepper.)
1/4 cup pepper jack cheese

  1. Rub chicken with EVOO and sprinkle with salt pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, put in all of the other ingredients.  Toss gently with your fingers. Try not to mash.  Keep everything light.
  3. On the baking sheet, take one chicken thigh and add 1 TBSP of the filling to the middle.  Roll to cover the filling and make sure thigh is seam side down.  The chicken does NOT need to overlap.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off. Tent the foil over the chicken and return to the oven.
1 cup pumpkin cleaned, peeled  and cut into cubes (Make sure that this is pumpkin for baking not just the jack-o-lantern pumpkin. Use the canned pumpkin, if yours is not a baking pumpkin.)
1 carrot washed peeled and cut into about the same size as the pumpkin
1 sweet potato washed peeled and cut into cubes same size as other veggies.
1/8 inch of cinnamon stick or a pinch of dry
1 TBSP  butter or margarine

  1. Toss veggies into boiling water. Add 1 tsp. salt.
  2. Boil for about 10 min. Until cubes are soft. 
  3. Drain (save 1 cup of the water) and remove cinnamon stick and in the same pot, mash the potatoes to the consistency you like.If the mash is too stiff add a little milk or water that you used to boil veggies in.
  4. Add butter or margarine.Stir, cover and set aside.

1 heaping TBSP sugar free jam
1 heaping TBSP balsamic vinegar

In a small saucepan or in a microwave safe dish, put a little EVOO and saute the mushrooms a little. Add both the jam and vinegar and stir. Heat for about 1 min. in microwave. Stir again.  Should be syrup consistency.  If you are using stovetop put in a pan and over low heat stir until it's the right consistency. Spoon over the chicken.

Except for the salad you are good to go.