Tag Archives: cooking

Warm Greek Pasta Salad ~ yum

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The Finish!

I saw this recipe on a food website and the photo looked sooo good, but then the photos usually do. So, I said to myself, “Self, let’s try it”…and of course, I made some changes.

Note: I live alone and cook for one. However, I usually prepare food for two or three and freeze what I don’t eat for another meal. This recipe can be easily doubled.

So, let’s start with the warm part.

Boil water and cook 2 C of whole wheat pasta according to directions.

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Then, in a large skillet (I have a ceramic one I love that’s a semi-wok), liberally spray olive oil pan-spray,  saute 1/2 C roughly chopped red onion, 1 tsp minced garlic (I used the jarred variety), 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Cook until the onion begins to become translucent.

Add 1/2 a package of frozen chopped spinach (I used organic). When it appears to need more pan spray, I add 1/4 C water and let it steam. Also add 1/2 tsp jarred vegetable bouillon. I use very little salt and the bouillon has enough for me. Taste to see if you need to add salt. When thoroughly cooked, as seen above, add 4 tsp red wine vinegar and stir through. Turn off the burner and let it cool…but it will still be warm. Note: Don’t be afraid to taste as you cook. Professional cooks keep forks and spoons handy for tasting.

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Add the cooked whole wheat pasta to the spinach mixture. If you want to get rid of starch, first rinse the pasta with warm water, then add to skillet. (Note: I placed two portions into plastic containers. One I saved for later in the week, one I froze. Then later, when thawed and warmed, I would add the fresh ingredients.) But, this recipe if for the entire amount.

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Place entire amount of warm, cooked ingredients in serving dish large enough to add 1 C of sliced Kalamata olives, 2 chopped fresh plum tomatoes, [Note: You can use 1 1/2 C sliced cherry tomatoes. I think grape tomatoes are too small.] 2 Tbsp virgin olive oil (I used organic), 9 oz of crumbled feta cheese. Gently mix. That might seem like a lot of Feta, but it’s the protein for this dish.

This serves three for dinner, four for lunch. It can be easily doubled. You can serve it with a loaf of rustic bread. I don’t because I eat lowish/lower carb. Of course, if I have guests, I’d serve it with a loaf of bread and olive oil on the side to dunk the bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Family Meal Has Been Hijacked

Mac 'n Cheese with tomato slices before it goes into the oven. Trust me it beats Kraft.

Mac ‘n Cheese with tomato slices before it goes into the oven. Trust me it beats Kraft…oh,there’s bacon on top too.

 

 

 

 

Cooking is fun. It must be. Millions watch cooking shows with regularity. In fact more watch cooking shows than actually cook.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.

Christmas Eve in my family has traditionally meant a meatless meal.

 

 

One of the things I loved about my childhood was sitting down at the dinner table which we did every night. I particularly loved the holiday table at my grandmother’s house. It was so comfy, Uncle John told the funniest stories, and the food was great. There’s really nothing quite as good as the aromas coming out of a kitchen when a home cooked meal is being prepared. When you’ve eaten a good home cook’s Sunday friend chicken with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, Kentucky Fried Chicken just doesn’t cut it.

 

I recently read that in 1900 the average American family ate only 2% of meals out of the home. By 2010 Americans ate 50% of their meals out of the home. When they were home eating “together” it was quite usual for each family member to microwave their own frozen meal. If they actually sat down at the table together with their individual nuked food, it would be for less than 20 minutes.

 

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I cook. I love to stand in front of the stove and stir what I’ve got simmering in a pot. I love to open the oven to check on my baked chicken and revel in the garlic and onion aromas wafting over my kitchen and into the rest of the house. That’s wonderful and pleasurable to me. Sitting down at a set table and eating a well prepared, home cooked meal is pretty close to heavenly. It warms the cockles of my heart hearing: “I’ll have another helping of sweet potatoes” or “Wow, these carrots are good, can I have more?” or “pass the grated cheese.”

 

I could tell you studies show that kids who regularly sit down to a meal with their families are more well-adjusted than kids who don’t. I could point to research suggesting children who eat at home with their families have better grades and get into less trouble. I could ask you if you knew eating meals at home protects girls from anorexia and bulimia. But what I really want to tell you is how much fun it is to eat together. How great it is to cook together in the kitchen, and carry the platters out to the table.

 

Watching cooking on TV is fun. I do it all the time. But cooking at your own stove is more fun. Trust me. Shopping at the supermarket should be a wonderful sensory experience. There are red, round, ripe tomatoes waiting to be sliced and added to a sandwich. Yum. Anyone can do that. There’s a package of chop meat that would make a few hamburgers to share with family and friends and they won’t taste like the cardboard burgers you get at a fast food place. Put it on a good roll you got in the bakery section and plop one of those fresh cut tomato slices on it. Then eat! Eat! Enjoy the people at the table eating with you. After all, community starts at the dinner table.


Sauteed Fish ~ killing belly fat is murder

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“Baked fish again! That’s so boring,” ~ is the dieter’s lament, but it doesn’t have to be a breaded fish fry either. If you’ve cut waaay down on starch and carbs it’s essential to stay away from the dredging flour and bread crumbs.

Even if you’re not watching your waistline, it’s a good thing for every cook to have a basic sauteed fish recipe in their arsenal.

If I were to make a literary comparison, this would be a sub-genre, rather than a specific story.

  • Fish
  • Pan Fried Fish
  • Sauteed Fish

Rather than a specific recipe, it’s a way to cook no starch, low carb sauteed fish. If you’re like me, every time you make it, the dish will be slightly different. This depends upon your whim and what ingredients you have on hand.

You want flavor, so the first step is to saute some veggies and garlic. I took a small tomato chopped coarsely, two sliced cloves of garlic, and 1/8 to 1/4 C coarsely chopped red onion. Saute until tender in olive oil or canola oil. I stirred in a handful of fresh basil leaves. [But, you could just as easily add some coarsely chopped red, orange, or yellow sweet pepper, or use oregano instead of basil. Or anything else you’ve got on hand.]

I have a secret seasoning (so please don’t tell anyone). I use an old Mrs. Dash shaker and mix together 1 Tbs garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp celery salt, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, 1/8 tsp chili powder. I love garlic, but if you don’t, when you saute the veggies, use one fresh sliced clove of garlic instead of two.

Sprinkle the secret seasoning to taste (here after called SS) on one side of four average size fish fillets. I often used flounder. Turn that side down in the pan. Do this with all four fillets. Make sure the heat is on medium to medium low, so you don’t burn the fish. Make sure you have enough oil so that you don’t burn the fish, but it shouldn’t be swimming. [Get it…fish swimming. Just a wee bit of humor, very wee.]

Sprinkle SS on the other side of the fish while they are in the pan. It only takes a minute of two for the fish to cook. Turn them once and cook another two minutes. Handle as little as possible, or the fillets will fall apart.

I arranged all four fillets on a plate for the photo, but when I serve I use a spatula and place two fillets on a plate, serving two people. Obviously the recipe is easily doubled or tripled. I serve this with steamed broccoli or with a fresh garden salad.

This is a recipe my heroine Veronica Ingels, gal PI, would like. As my contemporary series progresses, she gets more and more into healthy eating (all while hunting bad guys). However, this dish is good for anyone, but is especially good for those of us in mid-life who are heart-smart and waist conscious.


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