Click to order: Leisure Arts
Like everyone else on the planet I have a job, and like a lot of other people on the planet, I work nights. It makes for odd schedules in so many ways, and meals, according to me and everyone I know who works 12 hour overnights, can be a nightmare...or at least challenging. I've spent hours on Pinterest searching for and planning a big cooking day where I stock lots of healthy meals in the freezer so that I don't dread cooking as much on my work and sleep days or make Gene do it. I know, it's a pretty pedestrian fantasy but trying to avoid the non-nutrition of fast food and the expense of restaurant food by cooking clean home-made meals consistently (the key is consistently) can be a challenge. It ain't for wusses, that's for sure!
I did a mini trial run this afternoon on the whole pack the freezer in one afternoon concept and I have to say it was much easier than I thought it would be and very emotionally rewarding. it's great to know that I already have dinner for my work day tomorrow prepped and in the firdge and a half dozen easy options in the freezer for my sleep day on Tuesday. This will be particularly good for when I work stretches of 12 hours on/12 hours off. 12 hours sounds like a lot of time until you try to do all those normal little things like sleep, bathe, spend time with the family, answer emails, watch a little of the boob tube, let alone trying to cook from scratch--and we don't even have kids! My admiration is off the charts for the moms and dads who work 12 hour overnights and manage to keep the family and their sanity together and dressed in clean clothes and with full bellies.
I chose four coordinating recipes this afternoon (recipes/links/photos follow) mainly to make it easy on myself and because both ground beef and round steak were on sale at my market this week.
Flank steak can be a challenging piece of beef to work up well. It's cheap and flavorful so it's worth the effort but it's best in low and slow cooking methods, except when flash grilling to a medium rare for fajitas. My mother made Swiss steak often with it when I was growing up, simmering it for hours in an onion, celery, bell pepper tomato sauce and serving over rice or mashed potatoes. Talking about it now makes me crave it so that's definitely on the menu for next week!
Another favorite preparation is Beef Braciole, or stuffed, rolled flank steak. The traditional Italian stuffing is bread crumbs flavored with garlic, onion, and parsley, although stuffed with strips of sweet pepper, onions, and garlic, is another personal favorite.
The key to flank steak is in preparing the cut itself. The extra time spent removing the prevalent silverskin and pounding that sucker out thin can make the difference between a really "Wow!" dish and a mediocre one. Everything else is embellishment. Don't let the number of steps being intimidating if you've never made this dish before. Once you've done it once, the second and many times after will feel easy.
This Mary Ann Esposito recipe changed my life. Okay, I know that sounds melodramatic but I really do mean it. With only Gene and I to cook for, no matter how many times we vow to not order out and to not succumb to the convenience of processed foods, the fact is there are nights when cooking seems too big of a chore for either of us. This recipe is our salvation. FIVE ingredients and they are all things we keep in our pantry/fridge: pasta, parmesan cheese, eggs, olive oil, and pancetta (or bacon, which I keep cooked up, crumbled, and in the freezer for uses such as this).
The entire meal takes five minutes longer than the time it takes to cook the pasta, and voila, it's eatin' time!
And to make this deal even sweeter? Because the sauce is made by the eggs and cheese, it's not even the caloric downfall that fast food Italian restaurants' versions are when they use Alfredo sauce. This is the real deal Carbonara and it's delicious without being stomach-achingly heavy.
One of the great things about things about cooking restaurant-style food at home is being able to customize it. I love this entree, Harvest Bay Mahi Mahi, a firm-fleshed white fish covered in rich Alfredo sauce mixed with sauteed shrimp and mushrooms, from Joe's Crab Shack but I've always wanted more: more sauce, more shrimp, more mushrooms!!!!! Viva la shrimp and shrooms! Since I don't have a district manager looking over my food cost reports, that's easy to do without sacrificing any of the integrity of the original dish, not to mention, being able to shave a few butter and Alfredo sauce calories here and there without sacrificing that luscious mouth feel and rich taste.
Here's How I did it, step by step, and with photos:
I love soup. I particularly love cream soups, although I often feel guilty for eating them. There's something ultimately wintery and comforting about soups with creamy heartiness that feels so good and yet so decadent. But. Using a trick I learned from a Pinterest recfpe for creamy chicken chili, creaminess doesn't have to equal loads of cream, flour, and butter. It's amazing what cream cheese can do in a slow cooker to transform a simple vegetable woup into a creamy feast on a cold winter's day.
Creamy Crock-pot/Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup
Recipe by Glenna Anderson Muse
In heavy-bottomed skillet over mdium heat, saute garlic and onion in olive oil. Add celery and pepper and saute for 3-3 minutes. Add all to crockpot along with rest of vegetables, beans, and spices. Pour over chicken broth and lay cream cheese on top. Cook on high for 2 hours and hten turn to low for 6-8 hours. Stir to mix cream cheese.
Makes 10 cups.
Nutrition per 1 cup serving: Calories: 167; Protein: 6.3; Carbs: 16; Fat: 6; Fiber: 4.2; Weight Watchers Points: 3
Posted on March 04, 2013 at 07:37 AM in American Classics, Beans/Legumes, Clean Eating /Real Food, Good & Good For You, Lunchbox Favorites, Mediterranean Diet, My Own Recipes/Creations, Potatoes and Rice, Slow Cooker or Crockpot Brand, Soups, This or That Recipes, Vegetarian, Veggies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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There's nothing like pasta, the ultimate comfort food, to feed a small army of company at the holidays. It's tasty, it's easy, and it can usually be made ahead, all pluses in my book so that I can serve a delicious meal to my friends and family but also be able to relax on the day of and during the party instead of running myself ragged, cooking.
Traditionally at New Year's Eve, I make a big lasagna, but this year I went to the same song, different verse, choosing to created a Baked Mostaccili dish instead.
Several of my guests plus friends on Facebook asked for the recipe, so this is it: Glenna's Baked Mostaccioli for a Crowd. Even though the recipe easily serves 8-10, it can easily be cut in half for a family dinner or can be made as a whole and split into two separate baking dishes, freezing one for later.
While the entire rest of the food blogosphere posts nice diet recipes for at least the first week of the new year, I'm going to go radical and tempt your tummy with step-by-step photos of how to make the sublime, baklava, my favorite densely rich, sweet, and decadent treat that's a pastry I can only describe to the unititiated as a cross between a bar cookie and candy. Or as simply "the most yum in a bite I know of!" It's created from layers of paper thin pastry dough brushed with butter and filled with pistachios, walnuts, and almonds, along with warm spices and soaked in honeyed syrup.
Baklava can be traced back to the "cradle of civilization", Mesopotamia (the modern Iraq area), in the thousands B.C. but its most commonly associated with the Ottoman Turkish Empire of the 15th and 16th centuries whose capitol was Constantinople (modern day Instanbul, Turkey). I'm pretty confident you can consider that a dessert must be good if it's been around for 5,000 years, don't you?
I'll admit that I assumed baklava would be difficult, or at least complicated. to make but the truth is delightfully that it really isn't. There a lot of steps, but most of them are all about the layering of pastry and filling. For anyone experienced in working with phyllo dough I would consider this easy to make, and even for those who've never worked with phyllo before, I would still say it's only a low medium in difficulty. The key to the recipe is in the steps and preparing the work space. Some baklava makers create the pastry first and then make the syrup while baking so that it remains hot. I make the syrup first and set it aside while I make the pastry so that even though the syrup is close to room temp when poured as the final step, the baklava is so hot it quickly soaks in. Having a little counter space is the only clincher to working with phyllo dough because it's easier to lay it out, then move it in towards you to butter and stack. You'll see what I mean as you read through the recipe and see the photos.
A couple of weeks ago, my cousin, Colleen, made salmon patties for her family for dinner and let me blog them. They were so inviting in the photo I suddenly had a craving. Fish patties is one of those things that are quick, easy, and tasty, but I usually I forget to make them unless something reminds me.
I do have a can of salmon in the cupboard, along with a few cans of tuna and crab, but I also had some cod fillets in the freezer that sounded yummy too. This is my recipe for fish patties or fish cakes as they're also called. Mine has a few more bells and whistles than Colleen's but only because I was playing with a much milder fish that needed a little kick in the gill to rev the flavor up.
Welcome to the 7th Annual World Bread Day, sponsored by Zorra Kochtopf. I love the thought of breaking bread together, and if not all together, then at least baking bread together globally.
For my selection, I chose my favorite every day bread, Farmhouse bread, the recipe given to us and taught by Faith Brockoff during a class Auntie Miranda, Ann, and I took at War Eagle Mill for Auntie's birthday a few years ago. It's a wonderfully crusty, eggy, bread that's easily adaptable by using all-purpose white flour, white whole wheat flour, or a 50/50 mix of white and whole wheat.
To decorate it, I simply took cake decorating colors and paint brushes from my cake decoating supplies and primitively painted on a deep red sunflower encircled by vines and leaves. I used the paste food coloring straight out of jars, occaisionally tipping my brush lightly into a small cup of water to thin it.
I love the way the browning crust turned the colors from bright and shiny to a deeper, more antiqued look on the bread. And best of all, we have fresh warm bread to eat, slathered in real butter and sweet fall pumpkin butter, to devour with dinner.
After October 17th, click here to be linked to Pinterest to see all the breads baked around the world for this event: 7th Annual Wrold Bread Day