Potato and Sausage Omelet

So the days veer from humid to glorious and my appetite goes from ‘nope not eating’ to ‘what else can I eat’.  The other day I was wishing I had potato salad to go with my leftover chicken…so I made some.  I have found that boiling a medium to large white potato until fork tender  makes for the perfect amount of potato for one salad.  I don’t peel my potatoes before boiling – learned that at my Mother’s side as she boiled 5 or more pounds of potatoes for her potato salad.  Much easier to peel as they start to cool off; just slip the skin off with fingers or a butter knife.  (Don’t try that with mashed potatoes though as you lose the heat.)

So I boiled a few small potatoes because that was what I had and why waste the time, energy and electricity.  The largest potato of the trio was earmarked for potato salad, the medium potato was earmarked for the left over chili and the smallest potato became the star of this omelet.

The co-star of this omelet was spicy sausage meat left over from a batch cooked for sauce and soup.  I am great fan of freezing bits and pieces of future meals, especially if I’m not going to eat the leftovers in time.  I believe I have mentioned that I consider the freezer to be part of my pantry, although I do date everything for best flavor.  If I had any spinach I would have added that as well.

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  • 3 eggs
  • one small boiled potato sliced or cut into bite size chunks
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup cooked hot Italian sausage meat
  • shredded mozzarella or favorite cheese to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • olive oil (optional)

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  1. heat sausage in medium pan over medium heat adding 1 tsp olive oil if dry
  2. saute potatoes until start to crisp
  3. scramble eggs with water and pour over pan
  4. pull sides of eggs gently towards center of pan
  5. when edges set sprinkle with cheese and crushed red pepper
  6. fold one side of omelet over the other and turn off heat
  7. let sit 1-3 min depending on required doneness (on electric stove remove from heat after 1 min).
  8. garnish your dish with fruit, parsley, cilantro, spinach
  9. serves 1-2

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NOTES:

  • also good with sauteed peppers and onions
  • use your favorite seasonings
  • if you love spicy food feel free to add Sriracha sauce to the side as well
  • it goes without saying any omelet makes a great frittata just as any frittata makes a great omelet
  • amount of eggs used is personal choice
  • milk may be used instead of water if that is how you scramble your eggs
  • so spellcheck didn’t like the word doneness but Merriam Webster dictionary tells me it is a word
  • I’ll post potato salad recipe another day
  • Enjoy your day!

 

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PUMPKIN COOKIES quick and easy

So the September Cook Book Club had a FARMERS’ MARKET theme and there were so many recipes I had in mind.  Of course then I take a step back and remember that my dish will have to be at room temperature (unless it is in a slow cooker) for awhile; since I go early to prep for next month’s meeting and to set up for the evening.

Pie Pumpkins (or sugar pumpkins) are just now appearing at my local farmers markets and even the stores.  These are easy to roast and puree – wash 2-3 lb pumpkin, cut off stem, cut pumpkin in half and place on cooking sheet lined with foil cut side down and roast at 350 35 to 50 minutes or until easily poked with a fork.  Carefully scoop out the flesh and puree for your baking.

Or you can open a can of your favorite pumpkin puree…

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  • 1-15 oz can pumpkin puree (I use an organic pumpkin puree unless I make my own)
  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • sugar (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (makes approximately 48 cookies)
  3. Pour cake mix into large bowl and sift with fork to remove large lumps
  4. Add pumpkin
  5. Mix well by hand, making sure to scrap bottom of bowl
  6. Drop onto cookie sheet by large teaspoonful or small tablespoonful
  7. Make cinnamon sugar blend and dust cookies lightly if desired
  8. Bake 13-15 minutes until edges start to crisp and cookie lifts easily from sheet
  9. Cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes
  10. Cool completely on wire rack.
  11. Cookies will keep up to 5 days in air tight container or 1 month in freezer (if you have leftovers…)

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NOTES:

  • cooking time depends on cookie size
  • I used 1/2 tablespoonful for 4 dozen cookies
  • nuts, raisins, and or roasted pumpkin seeds may be added to mix
  • I haven’t decided if I am adding espresso powder or cacao to my next batch
  • dark chocolate chips did not work for me

SPICY BEEF STEW

The weather readers are calling for a first taste of autumn this weekend.  It can’t come soon enough for me.  I am ready for open windows and chilly evenings.  Even if it is only a taste of what will be here sooner or later I’m firing up my slow cooker.

This recipe isn’t spicy hot just as brother # 3 says “seasoned well”; although you can up the heat by adding more jalapenos or chilis or your favorite taste bud kicker.  Use what is on hand, leave out what ingredients you don’t like, substitute chicken or pork for the beef and have a totally different stew.  As always serve it with your favorites sides from crusty bread to mashed potatoes to noodles to polenta.

Life in the kitchen should be fun!!

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  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lb stew beef cut into large bite size pieces
  • 2 lb new or white potatoes washed (peeled optional) cut into small chunks
  • 1 large white onion peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and cut into medium chunks
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 – 1 cup frozen peas
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place half the onion and half the jalapeno on the bottom of your slow cooker
  2. Layer half the potatoes on top
  3. Season potatoes with salt and pepper
  4. Layer half the stew beef on the potatoes
  5. Season the beef with salt and pepper
  6. Layer remaining onion and jalapeno over beef
  7. Layer remaining potatoes, seasoning again
  8. Top with remaining beef and season
  9. Pour wine over top of beef
  10. Cook on low 6 – 8 hours
  11. 1 hour before complete stir stew to make sure all potatoes are cooking
  12. 30 minutes before complete add frozen peas

NOTES:

  • the smaller the onion and jalapeno are cut, the more they ‘disappear’ into the stew and the more mild the flavor
  • the more jalapenos used or the less de-seeding produces additional heat
  • for more kick also season the stew with cayenne pepper
  • initially I layered the potatoes last but the uppermost potatoes took longer to cook, it works well just requires stirring 2-3 hours before complete
  • I used new potatoes well scrubbed with the peel on – makes a more rustic stew
  • use the wine you are serving with dinner or that last bit left over from last night
  • omit the wine and add beef or vegetable broth

ENJOY

FROZEN FRUIT EQUALS COOL SNACKS AND SUMMER DRINKS

As the heat and humidity continues, my freezer door opens and closes more than it probably should.  The ubiquitous bowl of frozen grapes has now been joined by trays and plates of fruit slices.

Fair warning to all – line your baking sheet or plate with parchment paper so that you can remove those frozen goodies.  Once frozen your pretty chunks and slices may be stored in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months.  (Larger meaty fruits may be stored longer but the taste will start to fade.)

Bananas ripen in the blink of an eye and days before the urge to bake.  Peaches go from sublime to bruised if you blink.  Strawberries perfume the produce section and turn fuzzy overnight on the counter.  Need I go on…

Of course I could refrigerate my summer bounty but then those melting flavors lose their joy.  So let’s begin with the grapes.  I enjoy seedless green grapes whenever I find well ripened ones.  They’re a great portable snack, go well with cheese and crackers along with topping a salad.  But rinse off the little buggers, drain well and place in a small bowl in the freezer and you have an any time of day frozen treat.  Perfect refresher for the middle of the night when the temperature meets the dew point and you groan awake.

Bananas I crave on the oddest days and I love their overripe sweetness for baking.  Sometimes a banana or two works when I shop, sometimes I buy a bunch.  Ripe bananas will hold for 2-3 days in the frig, although the skin blackens.  Longer than that and I freeze them – peeled and cut in 1 to 2 inch chunks.  The frozen chunks work well in smoothies and eliminate the watering down of ice cubes.  Two things to note – I wrap about half a banana’s worth of chunks in waxed paper before placing in a freezer safe plastic bag.  I do this because even pre-frozen chunks tend to clump when too many are bagged together and so that I have measured amounts for smoothies and baking. The second thing to note – frozen bananas are not as moist as fresh bananas so add additional liquid to your recipe OR use an extra 1/2 -1 banana per recipe.

Peaches, plums and nectarines scream summer to me and are eaten best over the sink so that the juiciness is contained.  For fruit that has softened I cut it up and blend with yogurt for a snack or to add to my overnight oatmeal.  When there is too much soft fruit I cut it into chunks and freeze for baking.  Peaches I peel first but I don’t mind the skin on the plums and nectarines.

Strawberries sliced adorn salads, baked goods and oatmeal.  But I examine them everyday and either eat or cull the ripest.  Strawberries don’t last long once they have been washed.  So for those I am freezing I wipe well with a dampened cloth and air dry before slicing and freezing.  Frozen strawberries go anywhere a fresh berry has been.

All these fruits work well to chill your favorite summer beverage from sangria to plain water.  The fruit that has worked it’s way to being my go-to ‘crushed ice’ this summer is watermelon.  It did take me a while to get this ‘recipe’ down more because I eat the fruit up before freezing it and then to get the lime right.

watermemlon margarita

  • 1-11/2 ice cube tray of watermelon cubes
  • 2-3 large tbsp fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 lime zested and juiced
  • 3-4 tbsp tequila or favorite white liquor
  1. Place watermelon and lime in high powered blender or food processor and blend into slush
  2. Pour over tequila
  3. Garnish glass with lime slice and watermelon chunk
  4. ENJOY

NOTES:

  • freeze the watermelon the day of or the night before using
  • watermelon will start to crystallize in the freezer and does not last longIMG_1917
  • use the same recipe with your 1 – 2 cup strawberry slicesIMG_1789
  • Frozen peaches go well with breakfast mimosas or a pre-dinner glass of Prosecco
  • I tried cutting the lime up into chunks as well but ended up with small chewy bits of lime – which works fine for me

ICE BOX CAKE – IRISH STYLE

Both sides of the family lay claim to a dessert known as ice box cake.  I posted the recipe Mom’s family uses back in May and today this is the recipe Dad’s family uses.  It is a favorite of mine, easy to make and hard to resist.

There are really only four steps to this recipe – shop, whip cream, layer and chill.  And I mean chill literally (in the frig) and figuratively (as in wait until it has chilled hours).  Then slice on a diagonal for thin decorative slices and enjoy…in moderation.  This dessert really goes a long way for a 9 oz box.

The recipe originated on the long thin box of NABISCO FAMOUS CHOCOLATE WAFERS.  As the name indicates these cookies are thin chocolate wafers that crumble (and break easily).  It is not a sweet, let’s eat handfuls type of cookie but oh, what a great cake it makes.  And if the cookie breaks you ‘glue’ it with whipped cream and if the cookie crumbles you dust the finished dessert.

The cake can be made in any form you choose from our traditional circle to a log to a loaf pan with rows stacked aside the other to individual servings stacked in a muffin tin that fits the wafers.icebox cake Capture

This makes an amazing birthday cake and you won’t have slaved over a hot oven.

  • 1 box chocolate wafers
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Whip cream adding vanilla as it starts to stiffen
  2. Whip until stiff peaks
  3. Spread whipped cream with butter knife or offset spatula between wafers stacking as you go
  4. Lay wafers down in log or circle pattern on large plate
  5. Spread the sandwiched layers with the remaining whipped cream
  6. Refrigerate minimum 3-4 hours, best overnight.
  7. Cut on diagonal and serve.

NOTES:

  • each box of wafers serves 12 people
  • if using one box of wafers, it is easier to use log pattern
  • if using two boxes of wafers, it is easier to make a circle or two side by side logs
  • makes a great refreshing breakfast on a hot humid morning
  • only lasts 1-2 days in frig before whipped cream starts to separate (if you can stop eating it)
  • ENJOY

SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

The weather has been so hot and steamy I have been craving Cajun food.  And yet I have no interest in heating my kitchen any more than it already is.  But I had the yen and I had some precooked items, so I made a run to the fish market.  Turns out a few minutes inhaling spices over the stovetop wasn’t so bad at all.

Of course this meal can be made from scratch, but I thought it tasted so good I can’t wait to make it the same way again.  Obviously you will choose your favorite rice or rice blend to have with this dish.  I used frozen roasted peppers and onions as well as jasmine rice from TRADER JOE’S (although I could have used their brown rice).

I did have leftovers but they weren’t as good as the original meal as the shrimp became chewy and the rice became soggy so plan your portions accordingly or fold the leftovers into your morning omelet or frittata.IMG_1756

2 persons as main meal; 4 persons as first course

  • 2 cup chicken broth (or as needed to cook rice)
  • 2 cup par cooked rice
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1/2 pepper thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  1. heat oil in large pan and saute onions and peppers over medium heat until soft
  2. add tomato paste to toast, continuously stirring 10-20 seconds
  3. add broth, rice and seasonings stirring to combine
  4. bring broth to low boil and reduce to simmer
  5. simmer 20 minutes adding more broth if necessary
  6. add uncooked shrimp at 13 minutes, add cooked shrimp at 15 minutes

NOTES:

  • if cooking rice from scratch cook according to package directions using chicken or vegetable broth in step 3; add fresh shrimp 7-8 minutes before rice is done, cooked shrimp 5 minutes before rice is done
  • leftover chicken and andouille sausage in bite size pieces may be also added at 15 minutes
  • omit the shrimp and use vegetable broth for a cajun rice side dish
  • add cayenne per taste, its what give the dish a kick
  • EnjoyIMG_1758

CHICKEN PARM MEATBALLS

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…sometimes I don’t know what to make for dinner.  Frig and freezer could be full or I could be wandering  grocery store aisles.  I think it is easier to choose a meal for someone else knowing their favorites.

I found ground chicken on sale and picked it up thinking a chicken chili in the slow cooker.  After all it takes little prep and when it’s done that’s what for dinner.  Somehow I never got there.  It needed to be used and I was thinking snacks for dinner when mini meatballs popped into my mind.  Ooh yeah and with a salad and maybe some kind of dip?!  But what, maybe the salad dressing…maybe the leftover sauce from the last batch made for company.

After that I was off and running, throwing this in and that in and voila! chicken parm meatballs.IMG_1766

  • 1 lb ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs of choice
  • 1-3 tbsp ground parmesan cheese plus extra for topping
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Lightly spray or oil one – two baking sheets
  3. Blend all ingredients until just combined, do not over mix
  4. Scoop meat mixture into hands and roll into balls
  5. Bake small meatballs 20-22 minutes
  6. Dust with additional parmesan and serve

NOTES:

  • I used a teaspoon to scoop the meatballs
  • if not particular about appearance, meat mixture may be ‘dropped’ onto baking sheet eliminating the rolling step
  • I prefer using 1/3 cup grated parmesan for taste
  • I’ve used no salt as the cheeses used are salty – salt to taste
  • adjust seasonings if using seasoned breadcrumbs
  • additional mozzarella and parmesan may be sprinkled on meatballs after 20 min – add 5 minutes to finish
  • meatballs work well as appetizers, on sandwiches or in pasta sauce as well as soups
  • yes this recipe works as well with ground beef
  • I foresee doing this with Asian seasonings and Sriracha in the future
  • ENJOY!

Sriracha Chicken Wraps

This week has been a blur…doing good stuff but still a blur.  I tend to be a bit dazed by humidity and slow in the kitchen.  But lunch is always easy when I’ve made chicken thighs.

The first time I made these wraps I was on my way to a trade show accompanied by two sisters and two nieces.  (Let me just say that these ladies are always a joy to be with and we had a blast.)  Anyway since they were coming to assist me I thought I should feed them.

The inspiration was chicken salad and the plan was to lighten it up.  (Let me also add at this time that I have yet to find a good way to photograph white food.)  So I baked some boneless skinless chicken thighs the way Mom would have, dressed some tortillas with a smudge of mayo and sriracha and garnished with cilantro.  Fold in the short ends and roll – voila chicken wraps.  Served with grapes and string cheese and it was a great lunch.

Prep your thighs with a smidge of butter, salt and pepper and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven until done (or cook your favorite piece of chicken) and cool.IMG_1639

Lightly drizzle (or spread) mayonnaise on a tortilla followed by sriracha to taste.IMG_1689

Slice cooled thighs using 1 – 1 1/2 thighs per wrap.  Arrange on tortilla and garnish with cilantro to taste.IMG_1701

Wrap two short ends of tortilla in towards center and roll tortilla.IMG_1709

1- 2 wraps per serving

  • 1- 1 1/2 cooked chicken thighs per wrap
  • tortillas or other wrap
  • mayonnaise to taste
  • sriracha to taste
  • cilantro to taste

NOTES:

  1. chicken may be shredded or sliced while still warm
  2. hot mustard works well with chicken
  3. wraps may be made with wide leafed lettuces
  4. spring mix and baby greens work as well if you are not a cilantro fan

Travels well in a cooler, stores in refrigerator 12-24 hours.

JELLO FOR AFTER DARK

Always looking for something refreshing, maybe a bit sweet as the sun sets without taking its warmth.  Fruit works well and then translates into sangria but I yearn for a cool mouthful.

So last week I picked up some jello on my grocery store foray.  The first box seemed too sweet and not interesting enough.  So I had a thought and threw some lime slices into a batch of lime jello and used seltzer instead of cold water.  The lime slices were a bit of a mouthful but I will do it again with bite size pieces for the tartness that went well with the zing.IMG_1734

Try with a dab of whipped cream, your favorite topping or as my Dad did – a splash of evaporated milk.

My next riff saw a box of peach jello with prosecco instead of cold water.  This is sangria in a glass and next time I will add chilled fruit slices.  I am loving the sparkle the bubbles in both the seltzer and the prosecco brought to an old fashion dessert.peach prosecco jello

Looks like I’m taking jello shots to a whole new level.

Stay cool y’all!

ORECHIETTE CAPRESE

Some of my favorite summer food memories involve tomato salad out of my uncle’s garden.  It was simply tomatoes dressed with olive oil and fresh basil, sometimes there might be thin sliced onions as well.  Mostly it was the tomatoes with the olive oil creating a juice that begged to be sopped with crusty italian bread.  Sad to say this salad only works with  warm tomatoes fresh out of the garden.

You may be more familiar with the plated version often served as a first course for warm weather meals known as Caprese – sliced tomatoes interspersed with sliced mozzarella and drizzled with olive oil and a chiffonade of fresh basil.  Chiffonade is a fancy way of shredding an herb – take a handful of leaves of basil and stack together, roll them up in a tube lengthwise and slice as thinly as possible.  You will see from the photos I tear my basil with joy.

Today’s quick easy meal is a combination of both that allow for grocery store items.   My basil plant may be in full glory but the tomatoes are just flowering.  Grape tomatoes seem to have a more ‘tomato’ flavor.  This salad works bests the longer it sits, so start even before the pasta water boils.IMG_1712

Almost forgot to mention the pasta used in this dish – orechiette – translates as little ears.  Its small indents cup the olive oil or whatever sauce (or crushed red pepper flake) you choose to serve it with.  Any bite size pasta such as small shells would work as well.IMG_1721

  • 1/4 lb orechiette per person for meal or for two for the first course
  • pint of grape tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 10- 15 large basil leaves
  • 1-2 oz shredded mozzarella (optional)
  • 1 -2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  1. wash and drain grape tomatoes
  2. slice larger tomatoes into bite size
  3. wash and dry basil leaves
  4. place tomatoes in bowl and sprinkle with coarse ground salt
  5. add 2 tbsp olive oil or more to taste
  6. mix well
  7. tear or shred basil leaves and fold into tomatoes gently
  8. let sit at room temperature minimum 45 minutes
  9. add water for pasta to large pan, salt and boil
  10. cook pasta according to directions
  11. drain pasta and add to tomatoes
  12. sprinkle with mozzarella, crushed red pepper and pepper, toss well

NOTES:

  • if you don’t have time for the tomatoes to marinate add mixture to large  pan (after adding pasta to boiling water) and saute for 3 minutes over medium heat.  if juices bubble reduce heat
  • with 2 minutes left to cook pasta add 2 tbsp pasta water to tomatoes and stir
  • then drain pasta and finish cooking in pan with tomatoes
  • sprinkle with mozzarella, crushed red pepper and pepper, toss well
  • enjoy with crusty bread and a light wine