Thursday, November 26, 2009

More Expensive?

I hear several reasons why people don't cook real food.  One is people think it is more expensive.  People point to dollar menus and so forth, but I still don't get it.

Let's take an example.  I buy whole chickens at $.79 per pound.  It is probably different in other areas, but in my Store they come on sale several times per year at that price and that is my price point.  I buy several at a time and freeze them.  So at 5 lbs for the bird, you do the math.  Let's say I stew him or roast him.  Then pick half the meat off and reserve it for a casserole.  The remaining carcass and meat gets made into chicken carcass soup.  Boil down the bones into a rich stock, add back in the meat and a boat load of veggies.  If this is new to you, Google it or take out any Better Homes or Betty Crocker cookbook.  My family can eat many bowls of the soup for lunch all week.  Cost per meal, just a few cents and very healthy. 

Now back to the casserole.  See my November 21 post for an example.  The rest of the ingredients are still pennies and I have eight servings there. 

Real food is not more expensive than fast food.  It's not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roast Elk

I came home from work at lunch time today to start a crockpot for the night's dinner.  I took a small roast from my elk stash.  I have absolutely no idea what part of the animal this meat came from, but it is dark, lean, and has absolutely no smell.  I washed it well in the sink.  I have a thing about washing meat.  I dried it well with paper towell and made my Herb Rub.  I use this on a good beef sirloin, pork ribs, most any roasted or grilled meat. This recipe is from a Taste of Home magazine from several years back.

Herb Rub (for 2 lb sirloin tip roast)
2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. celery salt
1/2 t. dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 t. each pepper & onion powder & paprika
1/8 t. dill weed
1/8 t. rubbed sage.

I rubbed the seasoning into the meat. 

I thinly sliced a small potato in the bottom of the crock pot, set the roast on it and turned it to low.

4 hours later at the end of my work day.  I opened the garage door and entered.  The house smelled wonderful.  The inhabitants are talking about eating more elk.  Everyone is happy.  What more do you want?

Well, maybe some roast potatoes and green beans.   

Food Inc.

I'm totally into the documentary Food, Inc. The basic premise resonates with me very well, that farming and where our food comes from has changed from a sustainable business, owned and managed by individual farmers, to a few huge companies, controling everything.  It describes contracts with poultry farmers, which from my limited knowledge of business law, should be illegal.

This is outside of my own experience.  My grandfather negotiated a contract with 'The Cannery each year that he would plant a certain specified number of acres of various crops and The Cannery agreed to buy all of that crop for a preagreed price per pound.  My grandfather grew beans, corn, wheat, that kind of thing.  It was a simple arrangement.  The Cannery got what it needed at a price it could plan for.  My grandfather was rewarded for his hard work and good stewardship by having a prearranged contract. 

I remember being about 14 or so.  Some nice lady came to the front door and said she was with an organization which protected family farmers against "Corporate Farms."  My grandmother quickly got my grandfather which listened to what the nice lady said and told her that his farm was a family farm and also a corporation and that he didn't know what she was talking about.  He said that he knew all of the "old boys" around and most of them had come from Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas to our little bit of the Willamette Valley and that they were independent farmers making their way as best they could.  And if they were smart and worked hard, they would have something for their sons (just the kind of "old boy" my granddad was).  He told her he didn't know of any big corporate farms around his area that wasn't run the owners.  Have a nice day!

On the other hand, grocery stores and markets of my youth, the 60s, the 70s, were much smaller.  There were many fewer products, less packaged food.  What little "convenience food" was available seemed like a good idea but Mom and Grandma were sceptical about it and thought it was too expensive.  Now, there is little else. 

Eat Local and in season.  Cook and teach your kids to cook.  If it comes in a box, it isn't food.  If you aren't convinced, find the ingredient list and read it.  If you don't recognize the ingredients, it isn't food.  It is manufactured to resemble food.  It is a trick.  Cook and teach your kids to cook.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fresh Elk - Ginger Stir Fry

My step son shot an elk.  Now, I wasn't there.  I've been around guns and shooting all my life, but I'm where things get cooked, not where things get shot.  I reached over the side of the truck to touch its pelt, its snout, its ear.  I saw and was fascinated by the inside of its mouth.  Then a bunch of it found its way into my frig. 

Elk is a lean and tender meat.  It is not well marbeled, slices very easily.  I decided it was about to be an

Asian elk and quickly sliced about 1 1/2 lbs into bite sliced pieces.  I put 1/4 t minced fresh ginger, 3 T. of soy sauce and 1 T. dry white wine in a deep bowl, put the elk in the marinade and put it in the frig for 30 minutes.

In another small bowl, I put 1/2 cup beef broth., 1 1/2 t. hoisin suace. 1/4 t. sugar, 1 t. corn starch. I refrigerated the bowl for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, I cooked a pot of rice and started a huge pile of sliced veggied from the veggie drawer of my frig.  I put 1 T. canola oil into my pan and put my meat into the hot pan to cook.

As the meat cooked, I drained any extra liquid from the meat into my sauce.  When it was fully cooked, I transfered the meat to a plate with a slotted spoon.  I added an additional T of oil to my pan and added the veggies.  I stir fried them until tender, added back the meat and the sauce and cooked until the sauce was thickened. 
I served it over rice.  People have been talking about it ever since. 
More elk to come.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Popovers - Basic

Do you know what this is? Why, it's a Popover pan. And I love love love mine.

Popovers - Basic
1 1/2 t. shortening
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 T. canola oil
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 1/4 t. shortening in each cup of the pan. Put the pan in the oven until it gets really, really hot and the shortening is completely melted. Combine the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.

Take out the pan from the oven and spoon the batter evenly between the cups.

Here my husband is photographing me and making inappropriate comments, which he is very, very good at.
Put the pan back in the over and bake at 450 for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 for another 20 minutes.

And here is the finished product.  They get puffy and have a hollow spot in the middle to put things.  Like butter.  Eat them hot.

Don't have a popover pan?  That's okay.  Make them in a muffin tin or 6 six-oz custard cups.

Rice Krispie Treats

My grandmother used to make them, a lot. I've eaten my weight in them. I have to laugh when I see them for sale in the store. They have them in Starbucks.

There are exactly 3 ingredients in Rice Krispie Treats. Rice Krispie Cereal. Marshmallows. Butter. That's all. All on the stove top. No baking. Google it if you want the recipe. The simplest things are the best.

My grandmother made the recipe on the box, then usually spread something on top. If you take plain old Toll House chocolate chips and melt them, they make a good thing. Or butterscotch chips. Or half and half of each. Then, they came out with white chocolate chips. Goodness. Do you know how many things you can put in melted white chocolate chips that tastes good? Strawberry jam, maple syrup, rum. Oh, don't get me started.

It is the simplest things that are the best. And buying them shrink wrapped in individual servings is just not the same.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What to do?

Okay, you lucky person. You have a half-eaten chicken carcass in your frig. You are a fortunate person. But what shall you do with it?

Here is one idea. Remove pieces of meat and chop them. Add Mayo, and any combination of chopped celery, pickle, relish, or chutney you like. On good toast with a crisp lettuce leaf. Lunch.

Or here is what we had last night.

Chicken & Wild Rice Dinner
1 pkg Rice A Roni, Long Grain & Wild Rice, cooked according to the package **
2 c. cooked chicken, diced
1/2 a stick of butter
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1/2 a green pepper, finely diced
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 c. Milk
1 c. chicken broth
1 small can diced pimento with juice

Cook the onion and green pepper in onion until both are soft. Add the salt, pepper, and flour. This makes a thick paste. Add the milk and start stiring, mashing out the lumps with your spoon. Add the stock and continue stirring until the mixture is a smooth sauce. Add the pimentos, chicken, and rice. Stir to combine. Turn it into a sprayed casserole dish and cook uncovered for 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

** I don't use packaged products like this box rice very often because I don't understand what's in it. What is hydrolyzed soy protein, maltodextrin, hydrolyzed corn gluten, anyway? But this particular product my husband loves. What he wants he gets.

Tonight Chicken Carcass Soup. We'll eat it for lunch during the week. That will give me a chance to clean out the produce drawer of the frig before Thanksgiving. Yummy and good for you too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I have felt that my life happened in decades. When I turned 30, I was separated from first husband and divorcing, with a ton of problems and feeling very alone. When I turned 40, I was engaged to my current husband, very much in love, lusting after his big strong body, blissfully happy and feeling safe. I turned 50 in August. As I face the next decade, still in love (and some of the other things, too), I am reflecting on the future and the past.

My mother and father were type A people, very hard workers and perfectionists. Perfectionism is not a happy thing. Although I have many of the same tendencies, I've reached a truce with them. I'm still organized and a planner, to a fault. My husband is more spontaneous and encourages me to get my head out of my planner. I hold his feet down so he doesn't float off. At the best, we create a certain synergy, using his great talents and skills when they serve us best and my ability to organize and categorize and figure things out when that serves us best.

My current obsession is that I've made my life too hard. I've done it to myself. It could have been easier if I had only let it. I wanted to entertain like Martha Stewart, run for Congress, write books, go to law school. In reality, I've done better than those things and I am ready to release and forgive myself. I am what I am and that is really pretty good.

If you haven't figure out yet, I think about food all of the time, every day, every hour, I'm always hungry. Here is my Herb Slow Roast Chicken. It is ridiculously simple and most of the work is done the day before. I've made 2 or 3 at a time when I have a group coming. All you need is potatoes or bread and a vegetable and you are eating.

My Herb Roast Chicken
4 t. salt
1 t. paprika
1 t. cayenne
1 t. dry minced onion
1/2 t. poulty seasoning
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. sage
1 t. fresh ground pepper.
1 large chicken.

Remove giblets from chicken. Clean the chicken well by putting him in a freshly scoured sink and running water through him, rubbing all over.

There is usually some extra fat at the spot that is the last to go over the fence. Pull that off. I actually wash chickens with dish soup, but that's probably over kill. Once he is freshly showered, give him a rub down with several paper towels to dry him as well as you can.

Turn the wings in on themselves like this. Otherwise, they burn.

In a small bowl, combine all spices.
Rub the spice mixture into the chicken thoroughly. Paula Deene says she believes in "rubbing her meat, y'all", then gives a naughty smile, but rubbing seasoning into the meat has a purpose. Put chicken in a roasting dish and cover. Refrigerate overnight or up to two days. I once did this without the waiting period and it wasn't as good, so don't skip this. The seasoning soaks in and gives flavor.

Now on the day you want to serve. Roast, uncovered at 250 for 5 hours. If you are a cook, you know that roasting is usually done at a higher heat, but I am serious. The end product will be like a rotissery chicken from the deli. Trust me.

If you are home, basting with the juices occasionally is nice. I often come home at lunch and start it, then go back to work, so this isn't necessary. Remove any extra liquid from the roasting pan. Allow it to rest on the counter for 10 minutes before carving. This chicken is so well done that the legs are loose but it is moist and has lots of flavor. I've entertained well and easily with this many times. You won't be disappointed. So Keep it Simple Stupid and don't be afraid.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Lunch is a simple concept. Stop work in the middle of the day and eat something that will keep you going and in good shape until dinner. It really needn't be more complicated than that.

I grew up in a frugal household. I was never hungry, but I know my parents struggled for many years to keep the household in the black. Things changed for the better for them in my teens and later, but early on we didn't have much. I remember running bare foot across particle board floors because they couldn't afford carpet in the house as a child. I had never seen a full closet of clothes until my early adulthood. The house was always so cold at night and I can remember shivering in the dark. To this day, I have many careful rituals to feel good at night. Fortunately, I have a caring husband who makes sure I am comfortable and warm.

For lunch, we often had canned soup and half a sandwich. Campbell's soup was the main brand then and there were much fewer choices. I liked cream of tomato and chicken noodle. I remember helping to make the soup, opening the can, spooning it into the pan. Back then Campbell's soup was concentrated. It came out in cold, jellied, chunks, not very appetizing, really. You filled the empty can with water or milk and poured into the pan, then heated and mixed the liquid with the soup. As it heated, it combined and started to look more like soup. I can still smell it as I write this.

We never felt deprived by these meager lunches. In fact, I think back fondly to these memories. We grew up feeling safe, cared for, loved. There are better soups available these days, but I still keep a few cans of the old ones for days when I need extra comfort.

Grilled cheese was another favorite for us. I remember my mother buttering the bread on both sides, taking out the cast iron skillet, slicing the cheese. I remember hearing the sizzle, the sound of my mother sliding the spatula under the sandwich and flipping it over, the smell of the toasting gooey mess and knowing warm comfort was coming. She was more than a bit of a perfectionist. She cut it just a certain way, it needed to be browned just so. Absolute heaven.

Lunch is a very simple thing. It needn't be hard. I understand that cream of tomato and grilled cheese is not your comfort food. So do something else! It needn't require standing in a line, ordering, paying. It isn't rocket science, just food.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eating In / Sheppards Pie, sort of

My lovely daughter-in-law had a really bad day yesterday. Happens to everyone from time to time. I wanted to help, but there are so many things I don't do that well. No really, my skill set is fairly small. But one thing I know, I can feed people.

I told her I would bring by dinner for the family so that she could have a nap or some extra relaxation. But I also worked a few hours yesterday. My step-son is a carnivore, just like his dad. He also has a good appetite. I wanted to include vegetables and needed something I could transport easily. And I needed something for us at my house.

I've been working on a sheppards pie which is usually lamb and other meat with vegetables in a sauce covered by mashed potatoes and baked. It's delicious but can be an undertaking. Here's what we had.

Shepards Pie, Sort of
3 lbs hamburger
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups sliced mushrooms
32 oz bag frozen peas and carrots
2 1/2 t. salt
2 12 oz jars of beef gravy
1/2 c. red wine
1 1/2 t. Italian seasoning
32 oz bag of frozen hashbrowns, defrosted
2 cups parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook the hamburger in a large pot or soup kettle. Drain of excess grease. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, peas and carrots, and salt. Bring to simmer and cook until the contents are hot. Continue cooking for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add jars of gravy, red wine, and Italian seasoning to the pot and continue cooking another 10 mintues.

Divide the contents of the pot into two dishes.

Top the two casseroles with the hashbrown potatoes, spreading evenly over both. Sprinkle the cheese over the hashbrowns. I salted the top because the potatoes has no salt added.

Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes. A lot of food in less than an hour and less than $10. I wrapped the container with foil and took it to them. I called ahead to tell them to turn on their oven. When I got there, I put the tray in the oven and told them to eat when they were ready. Then I went home and gave the same thing to my husband.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Panko Crusted Chicken Strips

There is a lot of stuff out there that resembles food, reminds you of food... It comes in a plastic bag or box in the freezer section. It's fully cooked. You prepare by heating it in the oven or microwave. It is not nutritious for the body or the mind the way food is. It is soulless, a product, an invention. Not food.

Panko Crusted Chicken Strips
What follows is more of a procedure than a recipe. You'll need a heavy bottom pan or skillet. A cast iron is great, but another skillet or a kettle is fine. Add 1/2 inch oil. I use canola oil, but peanut oil is another good choice.

Breading and frying requires a dry and a wet. Common wets are egg, buttermilk, or cream. Common dries are flour, cornmeal and breadcrumbs. I often use egg for my wet and equal parts of flour and cornmeal for my dry. That's what my mom did. Season your dry. Salt, pepper, herbs.

For this dish, take out two pie plates, shallow casserole dishes or shallow bowls. Wet in one and dry in the other. For the dry, equal parts all-purpose flour and panko bread crumbs. Panko(Japanese bread crumbs) is found in the Asian section at the store. Exact measurements depend upon how much chicken you are cooking. For 1 cup flour and 1 cup panko, add 1 t. salt and 1/2 t pepper. If you don't want to use panko, substitute cornmeal. Changes the texture of the breading but both ways are good.

For the wet, three eggs whisked together. Start by dipping and rolling the chicken in the wet. Lift each piece up to allow the excess to drip away and put it in the dry. Roll each piece in the dry to coat. This is a messy procedure, and not in a good way.

Heat the oil for a couple minutes. Holding each piece by one end slowly lower them into the oil. I fry on high heat. Depending upon your pot, your burner, and your comfort level, adjust the heat down if you wish. Using tongs, turn each piece, cooking until brown all over.

If cooking more than one skillet worth, and why wouldn't you, remove cooked chicken and add new pieces until all pieces are cooked. Add additional oil to keep the level Eat with dipping sauces of your choice. Pack left overs for lunches.

Would your kids eat that?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ground Beef and Hominy Casserole

I've been making this dish all of my life. It is my Mom's recipe. I should say that it started out that way at least.

I have a fairly large collection of vintage recipes and cookbooks (50s, 60s, 70s). It is clear to me that our tastes have changed, become more sophisticated, and worldly. We want lower fat content, of course. There are more international influences. We also want stronger flavors. My mom made this dish with a can of stewed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and chili powder instead of Italian seasoning and cayenne. It was more like hominy chili.

If Hominy is new for you, check out the canned vegetable aisle. If you don't find it, it is used in hispanic dishes. You may find it in that area. It comes as yellow hominy and white hominy. I use the yellow.

The advantage of having a large collection of recipes like this is you can feed you crew quickly, even on difficult days.

Ground Beef and Hominy Casserole
1 lb ground beef
1 t. dry minced onion.
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 t. salt
1 can (14.5 oz) yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 t garlice powder
2 t. Italian seasoning
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 c. shredded medium chedder cheese
Brown the meat and drain any excess fat. Add dry onion, tomato sauce, salt, hominy, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and cayenne. Cook on medium heat covered for approximately 15 minutes, Top with cheese. Cover and cook 5 minutes more. Do not stir after applying cheese.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

All for the Love of Pie Crust - Installment 2

With the rolling pin, lightly roll one way, then the next. Stop. Rub the dough with flour. Turn it over. Roll it lightly one way then the next.

Stop and flour it. Turn it over again and repeat as the size of the dough gets larger and larger. Try to keep it as round as possible. If it starts to get oblong, roll more in the other direction until it starts to get round. Stop frequently and flour it and turn it.

Please stop and enjoy this. I think it is a very pleasurable thing to do. Almost like a sculpter revealing the inner piece of art from the block of clay. You are creating the inner pie from a lump of shortening, flour, salt and water. Try to see the infinite possibilities of the universe from this. If this is possible, what more fantastic and amazing things might you be able to achieve. Allow the pie crust to empower you. I know I'm crazy about this stuff, but perhaps there is something here you can take away for yourself. I hope.

Another lesson here is to be easy on yourself. A messy pie crust is always better than no pie crust. If it starts to tear, press down on the tear to seal it. This recipe makes plenty for a top and a bottom crust. There is some for waste.

And what is the worse thing that will happen? Into the garbage and start over. A little more shortening, flour, water and salt. It is not worth ruining your day to fret over pie crust. Another good lesson to take into life.

Now lift the least attractive, least round of the two shells into a sprayed pie plate. Pat it gently into place.

Here are the apples. I was allowed to take a piece of apple and eat it now. Wet, sweet, almost drippy, cinnamon, nutmeg. I still do it. More than one. A few bits of butter on top. Touch the butter and smush it between my fingers. Total bliss.

lay the top crust overall and crimp the edge.

Cover the edges with aluminum foil or one of these cool little things and bake until it turns into a pie. I line my nastiest cookie sheet with aluminum foil and put it on the bottom rack. The pie is on the rack next higeher. Take the time to arrange your racks. The mujority of the oven is above the pie. My pies bubble over often, so the aluminum foil catches the bubble over.

The "B"? You need to poke some holes in the top for steam to excape. My mother poked holes in the shape of the initial of her maiden name, "R". The initial of my maiden name is "B".

Friday, November 6, 2009

All for the love of pie crust. Installment I

I absolutely love pie crust. It is one of my favorite things. It is silky soft and tough as can be all at the same time. It is comfort and peace; it is my culture. It is my mother. All from fat, salt, ice water, and flour! Isn't the world an amazing place?
In a large bowl, combine, 2 cup flour, 1 t. salt, 2/3 cup shortening and 6 T ice water. Rings off, use your hands. This is not a job for someone who cares about her manicure. What does it feel like? Love, a warm kitchen, supper on the stove, and a warm bed later. Continue to squeeze between you fingers and kneed it with your palm until it looks like this.

Flour your board, you can use a clean counter top. My mother used a large piece of wood my father made for her about the size of my marble in the picture. We called it the bread board. It was used to roll out many a pie crust and cookie dough, to kneed bread dough and cut noodles.

Turn the ball of dough onto the floured bowl and roll it to coat it with the flour. Cut the ball in two and put half back in the bowl. You'll need two pie crusts, top and bottom.

Opps, camera stopped working. More soon.

Our Favorite Salad

I'm afraid that a lot of my favorite things have bacon in it. No. No guilt!

This salad packs up and travels well. Put the lettuce in a salad bowl. Put the remaining salad ingredients in sandwich bags and put them on top of the lettuce. Keep the dressing in its jar until ready to toss. The jar can lay in the bowl with the other goodies. Wrap it all with plastic and you are ready to potluck.

3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. Fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt and pepper, each
2 small bunches or 1 large bunch of red leaf lettuce or your favorite kind, torn
2 c., tomatoes, chopped
1 c. shredded Swiss chesse
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted
8 bacon strips, cooked and chopped.

In a pint canning jar, combine the dressing. Put on the lid tightly and chill. In a salad bowl, toss lettuce and remaining ingredients. Just before serving, toss salad with dressing. Refrigerate any unused dressing.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Along Side the North Santiam River

My parents came West with my Grandparents in a very different time. My Grandparents were going to farm. My Grandparents had gone through challenges of historic proportion and were looking for a land where it rained. My parents were looking for a land to raise healthy children.

There was some sort of argument or problem between my grandparents and parents. I don't know exactly what. I know my Father was unhappy and very angry about it and that the problem between them followed to their deaths.

But I remember in my early teens in the 70s my Grandparents were successful and prosperous farmers. My parents lead a stable household. During the summer we spent time with them. I remember several days which were particularly happy to me. Late in the day, after the work day for both my grandparents and my parents. We gathered for a meal in an area along the North Santiam River. I remember walking on round river rock bare foot in cold water. Watching and trying to catch various water creatures, I remember a fire pit on the rocks prepared by the adults and going to pick corn from the fields for the meal. I remember running through the corn stocks, cold, alien, wet, seeing fragile and short lived creatures below the corn stocks. I remember the split-crack sound of the corn stock being separated from the stock by an adult who carried the corn from the fields back to the fire by the river. And I remember my Grandmother and Mother as well as an aunt preparing a simple meal by wrapping food in aluminum foild and laying it into the coals.

Do you remember such strong feelings from your youth. What have you done to pass that along to some one. My parents and Grandparents were not perfect. They left may scars of lack, fear, anger --- but they gave me the ability to do things and the sensibility to know what things were worth doing.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

There is so much stuff out there that people think is food that isn't. Food provides what the body needs for health. It feeds the body and the soul. It is emotional. It is simple stuff. It doesn't come in boxes that require only microwaving. When you read the ingredients, if you don't know what each thing is, that's not food, just a digestible substance.

1 T canola oil
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless check breasts
1 24 oz jar of your favorite salsa
1 6 oz can large olives, drained and chopped
15 oz can pinto beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
4-5 large flour tortilla cut into slices like lasangna noodles
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cut chicken into bitesize pieces. Cook chicken in oil for 5 minutes. Add pepper and garlic and cook an additional 3 minutes. Add salsa, chopped olives, and beans. Simmer to reduce excess liquid. Remove from heat.

Spoon a small amount of the sauce from the pan into the bottom of a sprayed casserole dish. Add a layer of tortilla slices. Add half of the chicken mixture, then 1 cup of the cheese, another layer of tortilla slices, the rest of the chicken and the rest of the cheese. Bake 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.


This is going to sound crazy. And I have no scientific proof. But I think the fresh ginger must have anti-depressant qualities. When I am feeling a bit off, nothing fixes me up quite as well. Somehow all of the senses are stimulated. I feel a little more awake, a little taller, a little more alive. This recipe is not original. See

Here is my favorite Asian Salad dressing. What you put in on is up to you. It is good, really good.
2 - 3 T. Sesame Oil
3T olive oil
8 T soy sauce
1/3 c. brown sugar
3 T. fresh ginger, grated finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pablano pepper. Seeds and membrane removed and pepper finely chopped
Combine ingredients and refrigerate.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Every Chinese restaurant has a beef and broccoli dish. I think that is very interesting, because I've read that broccoli isn't really used in traditional Chinese cooking. My husband likes it, so it shows up frequently in my cooking. This is an original recipe. I've made many versions until we reached one that tastes best to us. Like everything I make, I try to use fresh ingredients and not take all day. So I get flavor by using some commercial sauces.

My regular grocery store has one or two sale meats every week. I buy the sale meat in large quantity, then freeze portions we'll use in zip lock bags. The trick is to have what I want defrosted at the time I want to cook. It stresses me out to need a meal in 30 minutes and have a freezer full of food frozen solid. I have to have a plan. One thing I do is to slice a couple zip lock bags of sirlion on grocery day and freeze them knowing I'll use them for stir fry. The others stay as steak. As I've mentioned, my husband is a carnivore. The point is planning. Knowing what I'm making the next few days and having the ingredients ready. That means freezer management and good grocery lists.

Cantonese Beef and Broccoli
3 T. Soy Sauce
3T. White Wine
1/4 t. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1 red bell pepper diced finely
1 T. Cider Vinegar
1T. Sugar
3 T. Commercial stir fry sauce - Cantonese Style (or one you like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 lb sirloin steak, cut into very thin strips
2 T. Vegetable oil
1 T. cornstarch
3 cups broccoli floweretts
cooked white rice
Combine soy sauce, wine, vinegar, sugar, stir fry sauce, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Add meat, stirring to coat. Let stand 15 minutes or more. With a slotted spoon, remove meat to a plate and set aside the marinade. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over high heat. Add meat, stir and cook several minutes until browned lightly. Add broccoli. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 mintes. Add cornstarch to reserved marinade and add to skillet. Simmer an additional 2 minutes. Serve over white rice.