Monday, September 30, 2013

Homestyle Meatloaf Monday

This is truly homestyle meatloaf.

No one taught me to cook. Basics is where we all begin. I don't have any data, but if you still eat meat, you probably eat meatloaf every once and awhile. Most people I know seem to prefer a cold meatloaf sandwich. I sliced this up with one of my serrated steak knives which chews up the cut edges a bit but I don't like things to look too perfectly sliced when it comes to homestyle. Of course, ketchup is the most popular topping—I also added a few green peppercorns for the fun of it. If you want to cut a few calories, skip the bread. A serving of three skinny slices is very satisfying. As I said, no one taught me to cook...this hardly classifies as anything special but it does fall into the comfort food category at diners. Anyone can do it. A small side added to this and you have a nice meal.

The ingredients are simple. Hamburger, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, ketchup, and a bit of salt & pepper. If you want something else added to the mix, well that's good too.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Using Shredded Chicken as a Main Ingredient

Chicken, Vegetable Rice and Cheese Quesadilla

Chicken Veg Rice and Cheese Quesadilla
One thing I like to keep on hand is shredded chicken. It works for so many different dishes and if you make a batch, put some portion packs into the freezer, it's there when you need something quick to fix. Last night I made a quesadilla with some veggie rice and cheese, but this is just one example. It goes great on a salad, added to soup, in a sandwich, in a casserole, in a gravy over biscuits, in a potpie, with hot wing or BBQ sauce, you name it, chicken works. Since chicken does not have too much flavor, adding different herbs and spices creates a whole new dish. Depending on what you want to make, you can pre-cook your shredded chicken with different flavor adds or keep it simple and add the flavor later. Thyme, rosemary, and sage impart a delightful aromatic infusion, but there is almost no limit to what you can do. This is shredded chicken breast, but it's a good idea to roast a whole chicken and use both the white and dark meat. Keep them in separate packages and label them with the contents.
Shredded Chicken Breast on White Plate
TIP: This is yield from one medium chicken breast. A good amount to pack and freeze.

Portion of Chicken plate
I like to get a nice crispy roast on the chicken to give it a little extra texture for the mix.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Glorious Art of Salad Gallery

Art of Salad
Food is so beautiful. I get a little caught up in just how amazing it is. It's definitely a love affair with details. Having these earth gifts packed with nutrition is one thing, but composing them into artful arrangements, appealing to the eye, is quite another...for me, it happens naturally. I seldom style the plate. I let it style itself. Yes, I do have some sense of what is going on in-process but I want the food to look natural. I used to be really finicky about cutting everything exactly the same size with laser precision and although I have deep respect for this disciplined looked a bit too staged. I now prefer a more homestyle cut and when dressing the plate, I let things fall naturally.

Once I finish, I photograph it. Not too unlike the original plate, I don't generally want to mess with what it really looks like. Today I changed my mind and threw a photo filter on these images. It's still the original lighting and everything else but it accents the edges. Other than that, it's the original shot crop.

Salad plate with Crispy Tortilla Bits
My appreciation of nature and its personal expression started when I was very young. I remember walking home from school and picking honeysuckle off the fence—looking at it from every angle before I ate it.

When you love and appreciate things on this level they feed you for life. They are intimate moments with yourself that you savor. Who you really are on a soul level comes to the surface and you feel at one with life.

I hope you'll find some of those moments today and hold them close to your heart. They are a reflection of your own beauty just waiting to be discovered.
Standing ovation romaine and carrots
This image astounded me with its simple grace.
Art of Salad Full Plate
Then of course, you get to enjoy eating the art on your plate...or serve it to someone who will feel the joy and nourish themselves with delight.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Easy Skillet Dinners

Skillet Dinners Curry Chicken with rice, carrots and peppers

Dinners are easy when you cook everything in a skillet.

First, I pan seared the chicken breasts and then added curry powder to simmer a nice slow cook with the peppers. Once that was in a nice juicy state, I added water before tossing in the jasmine rice and carrots. For a little color contrast I sprinkled in a few wild rice grains. When you cook rice this way it takes a little longer but the juices get soaked up into the grains and give it a robust flavor. Add enough water to keep some of the curry sauce in its liquid state. I also break the chicken up a bit with a fork about half way through to let the juices in through the seared top.  What you get is deliciously tender chicken and perfectly cooked rice and veggies. Serve either on a plate or in a bowl depending on your preference.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's Chili Time

Chili is one of the easiest meals to prepare and serves a hearty helping of heat on a chilly day. Everyone has their own idea of what chili should include and it sparks strong debate. I don't have a standard chili recipe...sometimes I add different ingredients depending on how hot I want it. When making chili for kids, I don't add a lot of heat ingredients. I keep to some basics, although I do use two kinds of beans. Kidney and black beans. I like the size and flavor variation. I also use diced tomatoes not tomato paste. Most of the time I add salsa. If you don't want meat, double up on the beans and you won't know the difference. I also add my veggies in after everything is already cooked. If you are making a big pot and will be reheating, I recommend doing the same. They add a nice semi-soft crunch. Toss them in while you reheat and they will cook to perfection and keep their nice bright color. I especially like corn and peppers.  If you like, top with some cheese, sour cream, pepper and a little sriracha. 

The fun thing that comes with this serving of chili is that I lined the bowl with a small corn tortilla and then crisped up another one in the oven for a few festive accents. I like using a red serving dish to brighten the presentation.

However you make your chili, it's sure to please everyone. Make it ahead of time and put some in the freezer. Then when you need a delicious hot meal in minutes it's right on hand.

TIP: Any leftovers can go into lots of other dishes. Chili nachos, chili fries, inside quesadillas, over eggs, over can even make a chili pizza. Little ones like chili on bagels warmed up with some mex-mix cheese...try it.

I've included a link below that has all kinds of history on chili if you want to know more. Some fun facts everyone will enjoy.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bring out your Fall Plates and Reframe some Fantastic

Sausage Pizza with side salad on Rustic plates

It's time to bring some warm colors to your table.

If you don't have a variety of plates to choose from, now is a great time to go out and start your collection. The settings don't even have to match. You can get plates from a vast number of sources at very affordable prices. These were $3.99 from my Home Goods store. Antique stores, flea markets and even second hand stores have some fun finds if your are willing to take a little time looking for the gems. Some textural design element to the plate gives it a richer feel if that's what you like. These plates have both a high gloss and a un-glossed stoneware rim. The contrast is both elegant and earthy.

If you have a restaurant, cafe or bistro—you might think about a changing of the plates to match seasonal transitions. White restaurant tableware is traditional, and a great mainstay, but this brings a little freshness to the plate...especially to your regular customers. Even if you are presenting the same food, it looks new with a new frame. That's what a plate is, a frame for your delicious, artful presentation.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sloppy Joe-Joe

Sloppy Joe on Sesame Bun and Cheese Topping
When Sloppy Joe's were on the school lunch menu, I did not pack my lunch. I seldom wanted what was on the monthly menu, but for some reason...Sloppy Joe's were a good thing. I still love them and although I only eat them once or twice a year, they bring back all kinds of yummy memories. No one really knows where the name came from, or when it was first invented...but I think when you discover something delicious and satisfying, it doesn't matter who invented it. How come Sloppy Joe's aren't on the menu everywhere? It's a humble sandwich, but if you add some interesting toppings it could be amazing, and kids love them.

Second to this is another childhood favorite, Girl Scout Goulash. Both of these foods are great for a campfire cookout and I hope you will enjoy one some time soon.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Toast to Toast and Toasters

A healthy alternative to jamming your toast with calories. Lightly toasted bread with peanut butter and grape slices.  A few fresh grape slices add a bit of festivity and the kids will love it. If you don't like peanut butter or have peanut allergies, go for a nice spread of honey on your bread. Equally delicious!

Art of Toast with peanut Butter and Grape Slices

Peanut Butter Toast with Grape Slices with a bite out

Life made easier...

A beautiful quick snack or breakfast, this toasty treat is courtesy of our toaster. Early bread was toasted on a long-handled toasting fork cooked over a fire or grill. The first electric toaster was created by Alan MacMasters in Edinburgh, Scotland. US Patent application and use of a new type of wire, called chromel, invented by George Schneider in 1906, changed electric heating appliances forever. Other brands came to market in 1909, one by General Electric, hailed as 'the first commercially successful electric toaster.'
The automatic pop-up toaster was patented in 1919 by Charles Strite and went on to become know as the Toastmaster. Advanced technology has toasters doing some pretty amazing toasting a weather prediction onto your toast, while another has a color sensor that allows you to get the exact shade of brown you like...what's next in toasters? I can't wait to see...I have a few ideas of my own.

But for today, I'll serve you a new slice of flavor to consider. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

For the Love of Far Niente

One of my favorite wine crates has been outside too long. As you know, the crates are perfect when you buy the wine. Then you want to save them, but this one got outside and aged to a silverish tone and the logo is almost gone...but today I saved it. It's been moved a to house, yard to yard, and in honor of all things as delicious as Far Niente...I say, thank you for your loving contribution to the many gatherings you have made extraordinary.

Aged Far Niente Crate

Napa Valley Crate

Monday, September 9, 2013

Egg Soup Fantasia Galore!

Egg Soup Fantasia Galore! Earlier today I did my post and was not hungry after I made it. So, tonight I turned it into soup. Tossed all the ingredients into a sauce pan, added a little water, salsa, and a spritz of vinegar...cream would have been awesome, but was keeping it as light as possible. It was the most delicious, original tasting soup I've ever eaten. Amazed at how all the plated ingredients merged into infused magic. WOW!WOW!WOW!

Here ya go.

Fantasia Egg Soup with Veggies, Hash browns and Salsa Cream

Delicious Variety. Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.

Sometimes I wonder why...why do I think of these things and then feel compelled to put them on the plate. But, here I go again...Asiago cheese crisp rounds with cheesy scrambled eggs in a red pepper slice. Hard cooked eggs on the side with hash browns strips and snow peas. A few red pepper accents and a tiny dollop of sour cream and salsa on the egg slices. Seriously, I sketched this out before I shopped and cooked it up. Is that crazy?

Maybe, but when you have stuff dashing around your brain, saying 'please...plate me up'... well, I do it.

Perhaps you will enjoy trying it yourself. Even if you only get to the Asiago Cheese'll have enough to put a smile on your face. You do have to keep your eye on them so they don't burn.

Everyones oven is different. Try 350 for about 8 minutes...but again, keep checking for your desired bubbly browning taste. I used Martha Wrap (Foil & Parchment in One) to make sure nothing sticks to the sheet pan. You can use other baking sheets too, but this works well. Let them cool for a few minutes before using your non-stick spatula to ease them off. Don't rush it. They are perfectly lovely but delicate.

Simple breakfast variety late Eggs, Peppers, Cheesy Asiago Rounds and Snow Peas

Saturday, September 7, 2013

52 Foods for your Face

Today I did some research on foods for your face and it was interesting just how many foods are natural support for good skin care. You pretty much have a spa in your kitchen. There are lots of websites that will give you the recipes, so I am not going to go in to all of that, but here is a list of foods for your face. These are all foods you apply to your skin for a natural beauty treatment without chemicals. The cost savings is evident and the aromas alone make this a delicious way to treat yourself to a bounty of benefits.  

Whether you want to sooth puffy eyes, refresh your skin, shrink a zit, get rid of under eye darkness, reduce pores, exfoliate, or nourish and tone, these face foods will help you look and feel better.

It is recommended that you treat these ingredients the same as you would anything new, try it on a small area first, because some allergic reactions can occur. Use good hygiene, a clean, sanitized work space and containers, when using water, choose distilled or filtered water and last, as with all food…it’s best if prepared fresh and kept refrigerated.

Brown Sugar
Coffee Grounds
Baking Soda
Green Tea
Wheat Flour
Heavy Cream
Chamomile Tea
Coconut Oil
Coconut Water
Olive Oil
Peanut Butter
Egg Yokes
Tomato Pulp
Baking Soda
Almond Meal
Almond Oil
Raw Potatoes
Lemon Grass
Sea Salt
Apple Cider Vinegar
Black Tea

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pizza Bites alla Bolognese

Pizza Bites alla Bolognese as an appetizer snack
alla bolognese is Ragoût, from French ragoûter “to stimulate the appetite.”

Cut up pizza slices and a meaty bolognese sauce make a quick serve to hungry customers. Lots of restaurants serve bread before the meal service but this is a new twist.

At home, almost everyone likes pizza but what do you do with the extra slices the next day? I happen to have both leftover pizza and a meat sauce this week, so this is what I did to clear out the fridge and enjoy another mama mia! treat.

You can serve it hot or cold, with or without freshly grated parmesan cheese. I usually add some red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper at serving.

The thing about ‘leftovers’ is they kind of get a bad rap and you do have to eat them within a certain time frame to make them work, but reconstructing ingredients can be just as fun as making the original dish. So before you toss things out, think about how they can be repurposed to create something new. This is a match made in heaven if you like Italian food.

If you prefer, keep the pizza bites separate and put the dipping sauce on the side. If you have people who do not prefer meat, serve a side of traditional red sauce.
The portion size is up to you.

Pizza Bite Yumm
Pizza Bites alla Bolognese as an appetizer snack with parmesan on white plate

Monday, September 2, 2013

Innovative Fun with Leftovers-Stuffing Buns

This week there has been some press for ramen buns. Sounds interesting but I think this tops that idea.

Oven toasted stuffing buns. I took some leftover stuffing and formed it in to patties and popped them in the oven to get a nice crisp. Then I topped them with left over chicken and a little sriracha. The side salad is so wonderful.  A small bite of red pepper with some mixed greens and ranch dressing. It's a nice departure from all the other salad presentations I see. I think this would be awesome with a fried or poached egg. Let me know what you think.

Stuffing buns with side salad plate

Pepper boat salad

Stuffing buns ready to crisp on sheet pan

Truly Original Table Setting Art

This is not my creation. I have no idea who did this, a friend sent it to me along with some other amazing images but while I was sorting though my computer images I ran across it...don't you love it? There are so many talented people on this planet. When I look at Pinterest my head spins in awe. To all of you who create, stop and appreciate your specialness. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cheese Please

Cheese of Cheddar Type

American Deli Slice sandwich

I grew up eating Kraft American Singles. The individually wrapped formed cheese. Not my favorite, but it was all I knew.

First introduced by James L. Kraft in 1911, American Cheese is really a processed cheese made from whey, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate and salt. 

Though it was originally made from Colby and Cheddar, this new version of cheese cannot be called cheese. 

Kraft uses the term American Singles while others use the term American Slices, American Cheese Food or American Cheese Product. 

The last two are products like Velveeta or Cheese Whiz. It is also referred to as Classic or Traditional. And lastly, some products may not even have the word cheese included on the packaging.

I still eat this ‘Cheese of Cheddar’ type that I get from the deli—which is less processed and it’s best on burgers or a quick cheese sandwich, grilled or not. Truth is, I grab a slice of cheese on a regular basis to fill in when I have not eaten and need something fast to curb hunger. It is not a low calorie snack…every time I eat a slice, I think to myself that’s not very smart. Not much food and it comes in at about 100 calories per slice. But, I still have it as a staple in the kitchen. It’s a bit of a throwback to my childhood.

I love high quality cheeses of all types and enjoy them whenever I can, especially when I am cooking a nice meal or topping a salad. They can be quite expensive but so worth it when you have something you want to make truly delicious. Good cheese makes a big difference.

During the Summer of 1942, May 4, through August 1, there were severe restrictions on the consumption of cheese in an effort to conserve during wartime. Only American Cheese was allowed. By August the ban was lifted due to British importers sighting it was damaging to the morale in both countries.

It’s a holiday weekend where many of you may be having cheese on your burger, so enjoy this little slice of heaven that melts perfectly for what it is. A crafty little imitation of cheese that does a good job of making things yummy.

American Deli Slice sandwich with toppings
Grilled burger with American Slice