Friday Food. November. Leftover Pasta.

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Leftover Rotelli, also known by my son as that thing you do with pasta. This “thing I do with pasta” changes depending on the food that goes with it. This was just thrown together and it was good enough to take a picture and try to recreate the recipe.

I apologize for the lack of real measurements. You kind of have to feel this one, but you’ll be able to adjust as you go along. I have confidence in you.

  • In a wok, heat 1-2 TB sesame oil. Add nutmeg, orange peel, garlic powder and teriyaki sauce.
  • Add the noodles.
  • Then more teriyaki sauce, more garlic powder.
  • Add 1/2 to a whole bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Let them unfreeze in the noodles and warm up a bit, then add about 1/3 cup of hoisin sauce (our new favorite condiment) and 1/4 stick of unsalted butter.
  • Mix over a medium heat.
  • Cover until hot, mixing occasionally and checking the temperature for how you prefer it.

Everything is already cooked so it’s up to you to decide when it’s done.
You’ll know when it is.

Leftover Rotelli, Asian style.
(c)2022

Friday Food. October.

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Dreams do come true.

I will claim, rightly so, to be a good cook, but only a moderate baker. I almost never bake from scratch. Baking is not only an art, but also a science. You mess up one ingredient and it won’t work. Cooking is its own art, but it also lets you improvise more – a little of this, a little of that; don’t have an ingredient, substitute something completely unrelated.

A long time ago, in a kitchen far, far away, my middle son asked for cheesecake for his birthday cake. I made the Philly Three-Step, he loved it, and the rest is history. This has become a yearly tradition. Always plain with whipped cream. Occasionally with raspberries. Once with chocolate swirl. But typically, he doesn’t like it dressed up.

On Wednesday, he turned 18, and I wanted to do something special. I asked if he wanted a different birthday cake, and he wanted cheesecake. Okay, why mess with perfection?

A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream, and it was this cheesecake.

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.
(c)2022

After we finished singing Happy Birthday, and eating the cake, I told them about my dream and they laughed at me. I don’t care. I made it happen, and it was a nice surprise and even better, it was delicious!


Recipe:

  • Make the Philly Three-Step Cheesecake as directed. (Takes 1 hr plus 3 hours refrigeration.)
  • Before serving, use one (or all) of the tips with the Betty Crocker Cupcake Icing to make a chocolate border. It can be as thin or as thick as you like.
  • Wash and dry fresh raspberries and fill in the center.
  • Serve.
  • Can also serve with whipped cream.

Friday Food. November.

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My daughter came up with this recipe. It is excellent for those in your life who prefer their vegetables crunchy and just barely the other side of raw as she does. I was complaining of her lack of vegetables in her cooking and she decided to show me up by frying up some apple slices and baby carrots in what was left of the chicken tenders in the pan. We ate it over rice, and it was not only very good, it was refreshing as well.

Chicken tenders with sauteed apples and carrots over rice.
(c)2021

Later on that same weekend, I made a similar dish with fried chicken breasts and buttered egg noodles. My veggie combo consisted of: apple slices, grape tomatoes, and dried cranberries sauteed in about a quarter stick of butter with a tiny sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and a pinch or so of apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice).

Fried chicken breasts with buttered egg noodles with a side of apples, tomatoes, and cranberries.
(c)2021

My apples were not crunchy at all (and that was how I liked them) and unfortunately, I was the only one who liked the tomatoes and cranberries, but experimentation is at the heart of cooking. Had I mashed them, they would have made a nice chutney.

Try something new. That’s been my husband’s refrain for the last couple of years: TSN! (Try something new.) I wonder if chopped pecans would have improved it a bit. Ah, but next time.

What would you have added to my sauteed apples that would have been better?

Friday Food. October.

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My husband put together a fabulous heavy-on-the-vegetables dish, and we had many extra vegetables, so I played around with what was left, and what wasn’t going to last much longer and this is what I came up with for one of our holiday dinners last month.

Stir Fry Vegetables.
(c)2021

I heated up a wok with olive oil until hot. I would have preferred the carrots to be a bit thinner and longer, but with my daughter cutting them, she did them her way. They still tasted good. I threw in the rest of the snap peas, and then what was left of the grape tomatoes. I sprinkled in some lemon pepper and some chopped scallions to finish it off. 10/10 would make again.


Dinner included roast beef with gravy, potato slices roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and basil, the above vegetables, and sliced challah bread.

Holiday Dinner.
(c)2021

Friday Food. September.

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One of the easiest and delicious foods to make is Ambrosia Salad. It is always fresh tasting and perfect for summer and fall. I made it recently for Rosh Hashanah dessert and I’m planning on it again this week. You’ll find the ingredients below the photos.

Ambrosia. (c)2021
Ambrosia. (c)2021

Cool Whip and Sour Cream, folded together.

Can of crushed pineaapple

Can of mandarin oranges

Maraschino cherries, halved

Coconut flakes

Mini marshmallows

The beauty of this type of recipe is there is no recipe. Put in what feels right until it’s the consistency you want. When I make it again I will add two cans of mandarin oranges, but for the rest I used about 8 ounces of sour cream, half a container of Cool Whip, half a small bag of coconut flakes, and half a bag of mini marshmallows. If any of that is too much for your sweet tooth, add less. Too much, add more.

Set in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve in a dessert bowl.

Friday Food. January 2021.

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I really enjoyed my monthly series of Inspire and Friday Food that appeared all through 2020, and I’m planning on continuing it into this year. Inspire will return next week as this week was too full of news to focus on it, although I did find some things in the past week to be inspired about.

Breakfast Casserole. (c)2021

This was a layered breakfast casserole I had at Cracker Barrel. The restaurant is back to a limited menu due to the uptick of covid cases but this is seriously easy to make at home, either from scratch or with a few boxed ingredients.

When I first saw it, I thought it was a too small portion, but its looks are deceiving – it was hot, filling, and the tastes were perfectly balanced.

It is simple, easy, and delicious and while I haven’t tried this at home myself, I have no doubt that I could put it together in short order.

The layers from bottom to top are:

    • Hashbrown Casserole base
    • Melted Colby cheese
    • Scrambled eggs
    • Bacon
    • Diced tomatoes
    • Crispy fried onions
    • Scallions
    • Buttermilk biscuit with butter and/or jam on the side

The breakfast of champions. Enjoy it and the beginning of this new year that I’m going to choose to look on with potential and optimism despite recent setbacks.

“Friday” Food. June. Summer Salad

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Summer Salad, photo taken by my daughter. (c)2020

I’ve put Friday in quotation marks since today is Wednesday and this Friday Food is a few weeks late. It didn’t seem appropriate to continue with business as usual last week. I’m slowly returning to writing and publishing.

I mentioned in my recent quarantine and baking piece that my daughter had some assignments from her FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) class during the remote learning part of the school year. In my day, I say in my best Grandpa Walton voice, we had Home Economics and we cooked and sewed aprons. Same, she replied.

The recipe she wrote, shopped for and prepared was this delicious Summer Salad. She may have called it Strawberry Chicken Salad, but I can’t remember. It was easy and overall not too expensive. I let her get whatever she wanted for it since it was a school project and didn’t complain about the price. Besides, once she took her photos, she would be serving it to the rest of the family for lunch, much better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or frozen waffles that we usually scrounge up during the week.

Ingredients and Directions:

1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken tenders. Cook in a skillet with olive or peanut oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, no more than 1 tsp. of each.

1 head of lettuce or 1 bag of mixed greens

1 container of grape tomatoes

(You can add one cucumber, but I honestly can’t remember if we did. I happen to love cucumbers!)

1 lb. strawberries

1 pint blueberries

Freshly shaved parmesan cheese

Croutons

Dressing – I chose honey mustard. (My daughter actually doesn’t use any dressing.)

Mix the salad together, add your favorite dressing and enjoy a light and satisfying lunch!

Enjoy!

Is It Really Quarantine If You’re Not Baking Bread?

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About a week into quarantine, I told my kids that we’d make bread. They groaned. We had all the ingredients – at our first grocery run before isolation I got a bag each of flour and sugar. I don’t know why; it just felt like a staple I needed like milk, bread, and eggs. I just thought I should have it in the house as if I were Ma Ingalls and baked fresh bread every morning (which I do not).

The next week, I said it again. Hey kids, do either of you have any FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences) class assignments? Let’s bake bread. They groaned. We did not bake bread.

Another week went by and my daughter asked to go to the supermarket; she had an assignment that she needed to prepare and photograph and submit for FACS. I cheered. We’ll bake bread! No, she said after she groaned; I’m making a grilled chicken salad. Fine, I said, but you need to make enough for all of us to eat lunch. She groaned again.

I watched people all over Twitter and Facebook baking bread. Some used regular rising yeast, some used self-rising flour, some used starters, mostly sourdough starter, a lot made banana bread. A lot. Why were my kids immune to the call of the fresh smell of baking bread. Sure, I could have made it on my own, but we can buy bread. I didn’t need fresh bread. I hated the kneading, and my dough was never smooth like in the photos or on the Food Network, and I wanted it to be a family project. Me and the kids, measuring and watching the dough rising, kneading like we used to do with playdoh, and then baking it at three hundred fifty degrees for thirty to forty minutes. Why wouldn’t they cooperate?

Five years ago, I would have had them. They’d put on the too-big aprons and they’d get flour on their faces, and they’d burn their fingers trying to pull bits of bread right when it came out of the oven. Five years is a long time in kid ages. My two youngest are fourteen and fifteen, and they had no interest in baking bread with Mommy.

We have to, I said more than once. Everyone is baking bread. Everyone, I whispered. Is it really quarantine if we’re not baking bread? They looked at me in that way that teenagers look at their parents – the face that is partly pity and partly embarrassment; and not of you, but for you. I let them walk away.

We were cooking at least I thought with a shrug. We made pasta, Chef Jose Andres‘ Angel hair with tomato sauce (he called it pomodoro), chicken Alfredo, meatloaf, homemade meatballs, lasagna, roast chicken, pork in orange sauce, even my own leek and potato soup.

And still no bread.

Until….

I have a friend in Oklahoma who made a starter and offered it to her friends, like a chain letter. You get the starter, you grow it, and then, after ten days, you bake your bread, and you share the rest with your friends leaving one cup for you to continue the starter or freeze it for when you’re ready. for more Hmm, I thought, sure why not.

About two weeks later, a small postal box arrived at my doorstop. My starter was here! This was day one, and the directions couldn’t have been easier: do nothing.

I can do nothing.

For ten days, I mix the starter in the bag and I feed it twice. At the second feeding it’s ready to divide and use.

I put on my red apron, I got covered with flour because really what choice did I have – that stuff gets everywhere! One of the best parts of this type of bread is that apart from the starter, I already had every ingredient in my house.

I mixed it smooth. There is no kneading; it has a batter consistency and it poured into the loaf pan easily. I covered it with cinnamon sugar, although I feel as though in the end I should have mixed the sugar with butter to give it a streusel-style topping. I will try that when I make this the next time, and I will definitely add my results in here with an update (but not for awhile). I baked the bread on Wednesday, and I still have a full half of a loaf left. I think my family hasn’t figured out where the bread is or it would be gone already.

Apart from the community of what seems like the entire world baking bread simultaneously, the act of baking the bread is its own therapy. It brings out the homesteading, the nurturing, the nesting that just naturally happens in days of trauma, especially this shared trauma we’ve been facing. This feels different, though, maybe not as natural as other moments, and there is a level of stress and an undercurrent of fear sitting on the surface; the unknown that awaits. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, bread rising is an act of faith. You can follow the directions, mix all the ingredients, knead and rise, and it works or it doesn’t. Sweet breads are a little different, but there is still the wonder of making something from your hands and then sharing that with the people around you, whether that is physically with your family or here online with the people who make up our community.

I got the starter and I followed the directions. I added the ingredients. I mixed. I poured. I spread. I baked.

It hadn’t taken much for the house to smell like a bakery. A little cinnamon and vanilla goes a long way. The smells combined with each other – the cinnamon mixed in with the vanilla – and then it spread throughout the entire house until it was just there; it was consoling, comforting. It calmed. It’s quiet work reassured that things are okay and if they’re not okay right now, they will be. They will be.

Twenty-twenty’s been a year, hasn’t it? We’ll get through it in our own ways and yet still together.

It will take time, but we’ll be okay.

And there will always be bread.

For anyone who wants to make this bread, this is the link for the ingredients and directions as well as a few photos from my baking venture.

Friday Food – April: Recipes For The People

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Chef Jose Andres, immigrant, restauranteur, activist, and advocate started a hashtag on Twitter during this quarantine: #RecipesForThePeople. He’s been posting recipes along with videos of he and his daughters cooking, showing how easy cooking for your family can be. It can also be fun, and a way to get closer to your family. One of the first recipes that I saw was Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Sauce. According to Chef Jose, it takes less than four minutes to make, and so I got the ingredients I was missing (we already had most of these basic ingredients in our pantry) when I went to the grocery store for my next scheduled trip, and had my son help me make it, along with help from Chef Jose himself (through Twitter-video!)

It was amazing!

It was fast; it was easy.

The whole family loved it!

You can find the link (along with his and others’ recipes) as part of the Food, Isolation Style post, but I will also include the direct link to his Twitter here with a list of the ingredients.

Chef Jose Andres’ 3 1/2 minute Angel Hair Pasta

Ingredients:

1 box (16oz) angel hair pasta

1 bag fresh spinach

Olive oil

3-4 cloves of garlic

2 large cans crushed tomatoes

Salt, pepper, sugar to taste

A larger pan than I used initially – LOL

My version of Chef Jose Andres’ 3 1/2 minute Angel Hair Pasta with Tomato Sauce. (c)2020

Memorial Day BBQ – BBQ Chicken

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We made this a couple of times in the past few months. I sauteed them, but I think they’d be great on the grill.


Recipe:

Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl:

About 1 cup of BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)

1 TB Apple Cider Vinegar

2 TB Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup Brown sugar

2 tsp Orange Peel


Melt a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. Mix in some of the BBQ mixture, the amount is to your liking.

Saute the chicken tenders until fully cooked. I personally like them a little burned.

They came out wonderfully, moist on the inside, a little crispy on the edges.

Enjoy your summer!