Monthly Archives: August 2015

Ten Minute Omelet

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When you are rushed and want a quick yet nourishing meal, think omelettes. Or omelets. However you spell it, you can whip up one in about ten minutes. Eggs are an inexpensive protein. Mixed with vegetables or leftovers and a bit of cheese, eggs can produce quick and satisfying dishes. 

Vary the ingredients. Here is one version of a quick omelet.

Hasty Tasty Herb Parmesan Omelet
Serves Two

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 5-6 leaves fresh basil, sliced into tiny ribbons 
  • Nonstick cooking spray 

Directions:

  • Preheat an 8″ covered skillet over medium-low heat (I use cast iron). Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Whisk together 3 eggs, milk, salt and pepper.
  • Pour egg mixture into heated skillet. Cover and time for five minutes.
  • As mixture firms, gently lift with a spatula to drain uncooked egg into the skillet to cook.
  • Flip the omelet, sprinkle with fresh basil and shredded cheese, cover the skillet, and turn off the burner. Time for four minutes.
  • Fold the omelet in half and cut into two equal servings.

Cooking times may vary.

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Filed under Healthful Eating

Easy Grilled Salmon

The best meals are often the simplest. Take grilled salmon, for example. When my husband and I want to splurge on a meal to celebrate, we browse the seafood counter at Publix and select something extravagant. We’re still paying only half what the meal would cost in a restaurant, and that’s not including tips or cocktails. ☺

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RECIPE

Grilled Salmon Fillets for Two

Ingredients:

  • 2 salmon fillets, approximately 5-6 ounces each
  • 1 zucchini squash cut into ribbons (I use my SpiraLife)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • ¼ sweet onion, julienned
  • 1 sweet pepper, julienned
  • 1 Tbsp. Herbes de Provence
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • (optional) fresh basil sprigs

Directions:

  1. Place zucchini, onion, and pepper in a small (1-quart) saucepan over low heat. If you aren’t using waterless cookware, be sure to add at least a Tbsp. water. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook 10-15 minutes.
  2. Preheat cast iron grill pan over medium heat.
  3. Combine olive oil, herbs, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Rub both sides of each fillet.
  4. Place fillets in preheated grill pan and immediately lower heat. Position the thinner portions of each fillet toward the edge of the pan, farther from the center of heat source to avoid overcooking. Time for five minutes.
  5. Carefully turn each fillet using a spatula. Time for an additional five minutes.
  6. After five minutes, check the thickest part of the salmon for doneness. Do not overcook. If the fish has turned a lighter shade of pink, immediately remove pan from heat. If the middle appears raw, cook for a couple minutes more, taking care not to overcook the salmon.
  7. Remove zucchini mixture from heat. Using tongs, divide the vegetable noodles and place on two plates.
  8. Plate the salmon beside the “noodles.” Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil if desired. Serve immediately with your choice of roll and beverage.

I recommend buying wild caught in USA salmon rather than farm-raised.

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Filed under Fish, Salmon

Make Your Own Tortillas

We love Mexican food and Tex-Mex, much of which involves tortillas. I always bought ready-made tortillas until I watched an episode of  Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS in which Pati Jinich assured the audience how easy it is to make your own. Following a Twitter exchange with Pati (She’s very approachable and helpful), I ordered an inexpensive press and bought ingredients for corn tortillas.

There are a couple of tricks you need to know, but Pati’s right. It is easy to make your own tortillas. I may never buy ready-made again. I also may buy a larger tortilla press. 😉 But in the interest of full disclosure, you need to know there’s a learning curve. With practice, though, you’ll be turning out tortillas like some people turn out homemade bread or pasta. I’ll share with you the lessons I learned that helped me improve.

Instead of a recipe, it’s more of a method to making tortillas. Here’s how to make enough for dinner tonight. Mix 2 cups Maseca with 1½ cups water, stirring until blended. Scoop approximately 1 ounce dough for each tortilla.

Lesson One: Keep a full can of nonstick cooking spray handy.

All you need to make corn tortillas? Water, maseca, and cooking spray

All you need to make corn tortillas? Water, maseca, and cooking spray

Lesson Two: Parchment paper works best. The directions that came with my tortilla press suggested wrapping the plates in plastic, but I couldn’t make that work. Next I tried waxed paper, with mixed results. Parchment paper worked best. Spray both sides of each sheet with every tortilla pressed to prevent tearing of the delicate tortilla in its uncooked state.

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Parchment paper and cooking spray prevent sticking

Lesson Three: Position the ball of dough off-center, away from the handle. Press should work easily. Do not force. The dough spreads thinly and makes a delicate tortilla. Handle gently.

Gently press dough. If dough is too stiff, add a tiny bit more water.

Gently press dough. If dough is too stiff, add a tiny bit more water.

Lesson Four: Don’t try to remove the tortilla from both sides of the parchment paper. Allow cooking to begin before peeling back the paper. Then spray and reuse the paper.

Allow dough to cook approximately 30 seconds before peeling the parchment paper.

Allow dough to cook approximately 30 seconds before peeling the parchment paper.

Lesson Five: Don’t spend a lot of money on a tortilla press. I bought a cast aluminum for around twenty bucks. Works fine. If your dough is the proper consistency, you won’t need a rugged, heavy-duty press.

Cook turning every 30 seconds, 3 X per side.

Cook turning every 30 seconds, 3 X per side.

Lesson Six: Use a griddle or large skillet. I used an 8″ skillet, which restricted my movement in turning the tortillas. Next time I’ll use a griddle to allow more maneuvering room.

Lesson Seven: Remember Lesson One? Use the cooking spray generously. It helps hold the parchment paper in place, and it helps crisp the tortillas without added grease.

As you cook the tortillas, wrap them in a napkin to keep them warm. Or allow to cool completely and store in a plastic food storage bag in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Keep corn tortillas wrapped in a napkin in a basket

Keep corn tortillas wrapped in a napkin in a basket

Remember to practice. I discovered tricks to timing the 30 second intervals. While the tortilla cooked, I prepped the press with more spray. Then I flipped the tortilla. Then I scooped dough and placed on the press. Then I flipped the tortilla, and so forth. You’ll develop a rhythm and crank out a set of tortillas just like Pati Jinich. Or close. 😉

Next I plan to master flour tortillas. Stay tuned.

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Filed under bread, cooking, Pati Jinich

Thanksgiving in August

My husband’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because his favorite food is turkey. He is a turkey junkie of the highest order. He’d eat turkey every week if he could. But we live in Florida, and I’m not overworking our A/C while a turkey roasts for hours in the oven. It’s a cool-weather thing, or at least it was until I figured out a way to give him his bird and heat it, too. 😉

The answer is in slow-cooking a turkey breast. While I have successfully prepared a turkey breast in the pressure cooker, I prefer the slow-cooker method. I can, as author Phyllis Good says, “Fix it and Forget It.” I’ve collected all her Fix-it-and-forget-it titles and now own three different sizes slow-cookers. I’m a convert. If you haven’t any of her cookbooks, start with her latest, Fix It and Forget It Slow Cooker Magic: 550 Amazing Everyday Recipes.

The bonus in slow-cooking a turkey breast is the homemade stock. One 6 pound turkey breast produces about a quart of rich stock (I don’t add any liquid to the pot). I strain and skim fat from the juices. Then I use it for sauces, gravies, soups, or seasoning vegetables. Stock freezes well, too.

This recipe is my usual except I’ve added a butter/hot sauce rub. (My husband loves spicy cuisine. If you don’t, simply skip the rub step and season as usual.) With this recipe I paired the flavors of Buffalo wings with roasted turkey to serve both his flavorites in one meal. Regardless of how you season your turkey breast, the slow-cooking method is the same.

RECIPE

Slow Cooker Turkey Dinner With a Kick

Serves 4 + leftover turkey for future meals

Equipment: For the full meal recipe, you will need a six-quart slow-cooker. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 6 lb. turkey breast, thawed
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 cup hot sauce, your choice
  • 1/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 carrots, whole
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and halved

Directions:

  • Spray the inside of the slow cooker pot with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In the bottom of the pot, arrange the potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.
  • In a measuring cup, combine the softened butter with the hot sauce. Add salt and dried thyme.
  • Rub the turkey breast thoroughly with the butter/hot sauce mixture, carefully lifting the skin and getting the mixture beneath it.
  • Position the turkey breast over the vegetables so that the slow-cooker lid will fit. Cover.
  • Cook on the highest setting for two hours.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium or medium/low (depending on the controls of your model slow-cooker) and continue cooking for at least five more hours. If you lift the lid to view the turkey breast, you may need additional cooking time.*
  • After a total of six hours of cooking, check the turkey for doneness using a poultry thermometer (or meat thermometer with a poultry setting). Remove turkey from the slow cooker when it’s done and allow it to rest on a carving board. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Carefully remove the potatoes and carrots to the serving platter. Strain and reserve the broth from the pot for gravy or flavoring stuffing mix. Broth also freezes for future use.
  • Slice the turkey breast meat into serving pieces, arrange on the platter with the carrots and potatoes, and serve with other side dishes of your choice.

*I put my turkey breast in the slow cooker at night, switching to low after two hours and allow it to cook overnight.

Now if we want a turkey dinner in August, we have it. And I don’t turn on the oven. 

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(Photos depict regular turkey breast without the Buffalo rub)

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Filed under poultry, stock, Turkey Recipes

Your Garden-Variety Dinner

Some of my fondest memories of my father are of our runs together. One day, a couple of years before he died, we stopped near the end of our run at a neighborhood produce stand. Dad bought an assortment of fresh vegetables grown right there in the man’s backyard. I promised to cook whatever he bought. He spent about six bucks, total, and my family sat and ate as if it was Thanksgiving dinner.

We love vegetables, especially locally grown, fresh produce. Our favorite summer dinner is a fresh-from-the-garden vegetable plate. If you haven’t taken advantage of the produce grown in your area, now is the time to indulge.

Don’t restrict your menu. Plan your meals around what looks good and fresh, even if you have two or three green veggies. Corn on the cob, Squash, potatoes, beans, broccoli, tomatoes…it’s all better when fresh-picked. Steam, grill, roast, sauté, or all the above. It’s healthy, tasty, and good for the local economy.

Green beans, roasted potatoes, and vegetable medley, served with a whole wheat roll.

Green beans, roasted potatoes, and vegetable medley with a whole wheat roll.

KITCHEN TIP: Add a little bit of butter for flavor. A tiny amount goes a long way. I freeze butter and use a hand grater to add it to cooked vegetables. Isn’t that a grate idea? 😉

Grate cold butter for easier seasoning.

Grate cold butter for easier seasoning.

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Filed under cooking, corn on the cob, Green Beans, Healthful Eating, onions, Quesadillas, Roasted Vegetables, Salads, spinach, tomatoes, Vegetables