April 2nd is National Peanut Butter Day – in the US Peanut Butter is a favorite of children and adults alike. There is nothing like a Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich to get you to drink your milk. When I was a child, it took lots of Milk to wash down the Peanut Butter and unlike most other kids, I was not a fan of Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches. Fortunately, for the Peanut Butter Industry, more people love Peanut Butter than dislike it. It’s not that I dislike it, it’s just that I have these childhood memories of not enough milk to go with my school lunch to wash down the Peanut Butter. Fortunately, I don’t ever remember my Mother packing Peanut Butter & Jelly Sanwiches beyond the first time she did it when I was in first grade. It has stuck with me ever since.
As an adult, I have a new regard for Peanut Butter and even will eat a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich occasionally. However, there are many other uses for Peanut Butter and Jelly and one of those is to make Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies. /cookies/peanut-butter-jelly-cookies/ These are really good! Even if they do not look beautiful.
Another use for Peanut Butter is to spread it on Hong Kong Waffles. Hong Kong Waffles are a soft waffle that can actually be rolled up. In Hong Kong, it is a street food which is spread either with Peanut Butter or with Nutella. Add a little bit of Jelly and you have a Peanut Butter & Jelly Waffle.
How many ways can you think of to use Peanut Butter & Jelly? Please let me know.
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Most people think of Sourdough as a Sour dough French Bread and yes, it can be. Sourdough can be traced back time many thousands of years and and as with many discoveries and innovations, it was most likely by accident that our ancestors figured out what to do with it.
Sourdough is a bread made from a fermented yeast mixture. Sourdough can be saved from one bread making day to the next. Those bakers who have a special sourdough starter, baby it and take good of it, feeding it almost every day to keep it ‘alive’. The Goldminer’s during Gold Rush Days kept their sourdough in special packets and used it on a daily basis to make their breadstuffs.
You can make your own Sourdough by combining Flour and Warm Water and leaving it out in a warm place uncovered so that it can catch the wild yeast in the air. And yes, there is yeast in the air, although if you leave your starter near an open window, it will ferment faster.
You can purchase a Sourdough Starter from on-line sources along with directions on how to use it and preserve it.
If you don’t wish to make your own sourdough and breadstuffs, you can just go down to the market and purchase a loaf of sourdough. Or go to San Francisco and buy some of their famous Sourdough Bread.
In addition to bread, Sourdough can be used for pancakes and waffles and biscuits and muffins. Since April is National Sourdough Day, you may want to think of ways that you can use Sourdough in your family’s meal. Many restaurants serve Clam Chowder or Chili in small Sourdough Bowls which you can purchase at some bakeries or markets.
Try the recipe below for Sourdough Starter. It can be used for Pancakes or Bread. You actually don’t need a recipe for bread; you just have to get the right proportion of ingredients (yeast/liquid) to achieve a nice soft and elastic dough.
1 ½ cups Warm Water
1 cup Flour
1 tsp. Yeast (optional)
- Combine the all the Ingredients in a glass bowl; cover with cheese cloth and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 3 days.
- Place in a sterile jar. (dishwasher clean is okay)
- Refrigerate until ready to use.
USING YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER
- Remove the starter from the refrigerator and measure out the amount of starter called for in the recipe. Set this in a warm 85 degree spot for 1 hour.
- Add enough warm water and All-Purpose Flour in equal parts to the remaining starter to bring it back up to its original level in its storage container. Stir it well and return it to the refrigerator.
- If the recipe calls for more than half of your starter and you desire to use the starter within the next week, it is recommended that the replenished starter be placed in a warm 85 degree spot for 8 to 12 hours before returning it to the refrigerator in order to restore its strength.
For a recipe for Sourdough Pancakes please go to the recipe section of this blog. breads/sourdough-pancakes/
It is nice to be aware of other people throughout the world and what better way to lelarn about them than to inform ourselves about their cultures than through Holidays and the food associated with them? Every culture in the world has their holidays and customs and food is almost always a part of them. A Holiday or Celebration occurs in almost every month of the year starting with January.
April starts out with a bang on April 1st – ‘April Fool’s Day’ which is not really a Holiday but a day to play harmless pranks on your friends or relatives. It seems that April Fools Day or All Fools Day is observed in many countries around the world and actually goes back to the 14th Century. At least as far as we know!
Another day which is not really a Holiday, but still creates nice thoughts is April 3rd, ‘Find A Rainbow Day’. Wouldn’t this be fun to observe with your children by creating pictures of rainbows or to make food rainbows using vegetables of different colors? This would be a good way to get your children to eat their veggies!
Passover or Pesach begins at sundown on April 6th. Passover is the observance of the Jews Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Because only unleavened bread was eaten during the exodus, Matzos, which is unleavened bread is the only breadstuff eaten during the 8 days of Passover. The Seder which is a meal which includes the reading of the Passover Story and traditional foods which include Matzos, Bitter Herbs, Gefilte Fish and so on. It sometimes takes a little ingenuity to figure out a variety of things to do over the eight days of Passover. To this effect, Matzo Brie or Fried Matzo which is similar to French Toast has always been a popular favorite. Another thing that is fun to do with Matzo is to dip it in chocolate and make it a confection. Matzo and chocolate as unlikey as it seems do really go well together.
Easter is April 8th and even though Easter Eggs and Easter Rabbits really have no relation to the original meaning of Easter, they are still items that Easter is celebrated with, especially for children. The Easter Egg and Easter Rabbit are symbols of Spring and probably go back to Pagan Days when Mother Earth was worshiped. All the Christian religions observe Easter as the Day of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. Ham is a popular entrée for many Easter Dinners. Another popular items is to bake a break that actually has hard-cooked Eggs wound into the dough before it is baked.
Thursday, April 12, 2012 – Sunday, April 15, 2012. In Thailand, the New Year is celebrated as Songkran, also known as the Water Festival. There is a lot of celebrating done during this time and you have to to be careful if you do not want to get soaking wet as you walk down the street from the water guns that celebrants carry and use.
April 22nd is Earth Day and even though this should happen all year round, more attention is paid to what is happening to our planet. Recycling is encouraged and tree planting occurs. There are many more days in April, not all of them Holidays, but days with special meanings attached.
April 27th is Arbor Day and this day is usually observed with the planting of trees at various locations. It would probably be more advantageous to combine Arbor Day with Earth Day as similar events happen on each of these days.
There are many more holidays around the world in April; most of them are related to the country’s Independence or fallen heroes from past wars. For those who are interested in these days, just check out the internet or your local library and the information will be there.
We could go on and on with April Holidays, but most of us will mainly be interested in the days that relate to us or our culture. If your special day is not mentioned here, please let me know and I will include it next year.
In addition to the above Holidays there are many days that are dedicated to different things, such as National Cheese Day or National Pretzel Day. Almost every day in April is a National Food Day of some sort. For more information on these days keep watch on a daily basis for some interesting tidbits and recipes related to the Food Days.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 & Wednesday
Since my car is in the shop today, thought it would be a good day to get some cooking and baking done. (For a Change!) Removed one quart container of Chicken Broth from the freezer and cut up the center portion of a head of celery and put it into the broth to simmer. While the simmering was taking place, cleaned and sliced about half pound of mushrooms and sautéed 1/3 of them along with some leftover minced Onion in my Soup Pot that I would end up using for the Celery Soup.
While this was happening, decided to cook the Pasta Sauce that I was going to use for Cannelloni that I was planning on for our Dinner tomorrow night. Also defrosted the leftover Basil Pasta Dough that I had in the freezer.
Minced some fresh Oregano and Basil along with Garlic. Sautéed the minced Garlic along with some diced Onion in the Pasta Sauce Pan. While it was sautéing, add a sprinkle of Sea Salt to hasten the cooking and for flavor. When the Vegetables were sufficiently cooked and the Mushrooms were slightly caramelized, added some Marsala and reduced that. Once the Marsala was reduced, added a can of crushed Tomatoes along with some Black Pepper. Allowed to simmer for about an hour before adding the fresh Herbs.
Once the Celery had cooked sufficiently and the Chicken Broth had reduced, I used my Emulsion Blender to puree the Celery/Chicken Broth mixture and then poured it through a strainer to remove any remaining strings or pieces of celery. Added the strained Broth to the pot with the sautéed Mushrooms and Onion and then allowed it to cool down. Decided that this was going to be for dinner tomorrow night and that the Pasta would be for night. A method to my madness here. The past dish was enough for two meals and I figured that if we had it tonight it could then be used again on Thursday night for dinner.
While the Sauce and Soup were cooking, I prepared the Ricotta Cheese filling for the Cannelloni. Into a pint of Ricotta Cheese, I added two Eggs, 1/2 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan, some Salt and White Pepper to taste and some freshly minced Basil.
I laid out the Pasta Dough (it was already cooked) on my largest cutting board working with the pasta strips in a lengthwise fashion, I scooped a portion of cheese onto the short end, about 1″ from the edge. Folded the Pasta over the Cheese twice, cut off the remaining Pasta and placed the Cannelloni in a 9 x 12 Baking Dish. Repeated the procedure until the dish was full. I managed to make 10 Cannelloni from the Cheese Mixture and still had a small portion of pasta leftover that I can use another time. (Froze it again)
Placed a light layer of Sauce over the Cannelloni, covered it and refrigerated it until about an hour before dinner when I will remove it from the fridge to warm up. I transferred the cooled Celery Soup to the Quart container that the Broth was originally in and refrigerated that for the final cooking tomorrow’s dinner.
In addition to the above, I made a Baby Mozzarella Cheese Salad for dinner. Drained the liquid from the Mozzarella balls, cut them in half and then tossed them with freshly minced Basil and Oregano and Garlic along with some aged Balsamic Vinegar, Black Pepper, Sea Salt and Olive Oil. Returned them to the carton and refrigerated. At dinner time, will transfer to a serving dish and surround it with sliced Tomatoes. A very tasty first course that will go well with the Cannelloni.
Since Ev is out of Chocolate Chip Cookies, I also made his weekly ‘Chocolate Fix’. This week it is Brownies which I made with Cocoa Powder instead of Baking Chocolate. Just replaced 1/4 cup of the Flour with the Cocoa. In addition, tried something new by adding about 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon to the Batter. We’ll see how that comes out.
PS The Cinnamon taste was very subtle while it still enhanced the flavor of the Chocolate
It is not 5:06 and the dishwasher has been emptied and all the pots and pans and bowls that I used today have been washed and put away The Cannelloni is sitting out to warm up and will go into a cold oven in 9 minutes. The reason it goes into a cold oven is that the pan I am using is not metal and therefore would be liable to break if put into a hot oven. This way by the time the oven warms up, the pan will have warmed up too.
While the Cannelloni are cooking I will plate the Salad and slice the Tomatoes that goes with it.
This is all the Cooking that I am going to do for this week as I have other events planned. Quite enough though, for one week! Albeit, it has all taken place in two days. One great thing about making dinner early or days in advance, is that I do not always feel like making dinner at dinner time and it is nice to be able to take the dinner out of the refrigerator and just heat it up!
Sunday – 3/25 – Looks like this Sunday is another day filled with cooking and baking which is the perfect thing to do in rainy weather. Started the Day with making Ebelskivers and Sausage for Breakfast. My Ebelskivers actually have apples inside (as the name proclaims). We had them with a Mixed Berry Syrup.
After going out to the market to pick up a few things we came back and I decided to cut up the Chicken for Dinner tonight. Since it was a whole Chicken and I was only going to use the Breasts for our Dinner, I froze the Legs, Thighs and Wings for another meal. I used the Back and some other Chicken parts I had in the freezer to make a stock along with some Onion, Celery, Parsley and Carrots. That has been cooking for most of the day so far (it is now 4:06 PM)
I cut up the Breasts into bite-sized pieces and then coated the pieces with the Sauce Mixture for Cashew Chicken. Next, I made a sponge for the Rye Bread that I was planning to make for tomorrow.
After eating lunch and then being reminded by Lesli’s post on Facebook that she had made Cinnamon Bread I remembered that I was going to make ‘Grandma’s Rolls to take up to Joel and Nesbyth next weekend, so I went back to the Kitchen and made up a double batch of the dough so that we would have some here at home and still have enough to take with me next weekend. (These will be frozen)
Around 4:15 I went back to the kitchen and rolled out and shaped the Cinnamon Roll Dough. Half the batch was made into Cinnamon Rolls and the rest into Grandma’s Buns. The portion made into Grandma’s Buns was frozen, unrisen. This way, I will take them out of the freezer either the night before I leave or the morning of the day that I leave, will thaw them and bake them so the rolls will be fresh when I bring them. We are having Cinnamon Rolls for Breakfast tomorrow morning!
After finishing the rolls, I then made Bao Dough (trying out a new recipe for the Dough) and made the filling for the Bao. The filling was made from the leftover Tofu from the Stir Fry we had on Friday Night. Added some Green Onions and minced Ginger Root to it. Rolled out the Dough and cut circles and made the Bao and put them in the steamer.
Boiled some water for the Rice Noodles that we were having with the Cashew Chicken. Cleaned and sliced some White Mushrooms and sautéed them with Green Beans. Shut off the heat and set aside to reheat just before dinner.
Turned the heat on under the steamer and started cooking the Bao. When the water boiled for the Noodles, I put them in the Boiling Water for 2 minutes and then started heating the wok for the Cashew Chicken. Drained the Noodles and put them in cold water and sautéed the Green Onions for the Chicken. Added the Chicken and sautéed for about 5 minutes and then added the Cashews and cooked another minute. Removed the lid from the steamer to slightly dry the Bao and then we were ready to eat. The Bao were our appetizer and I served them with Hoison Sauce.
After dinner, I loaded the dishwasher and ran it; I still had an amazing array of bowls, pots and pans soaking in the sink. You would never know that only two people were eating here tonight.
Next, I strained the Chicken Stock, retaining only the broth and discarding the bones, skin and vegetables. Put the Stock in plastic containers and froze it for later use. I have about 6 cups of stock which will come in handy for cooking or making soup, if I decide to do that.
Once I had the dishwasher running, I removed the Rye Bread Sponge from the refrigerator and made that Dough. Set it to raise and heated the Pizza Stone to bake it on. An hour and 15 minutes later the Bread had risen, so I turned it out onto the peel, brushed it with Egg White (Whoops! Forgot to slash the top. Hope that didn’t affect the outcome. Will know tomorrow when we eat it)
Had to mist the oven 3 times, 5 minutes apart while the bread was baking,(Misting helps to form a nice crisp crust) then turned down the oven to 375 degrees and baked for 20 minutes more. Then I turned off the heat and left the bread in the oven for another 5 minutes just to make sure it was done.
Next I washed most of the bowls and pots and pans that were in the sink. It is relatively easy to wash them, if you soak them with hot water and a little bit of dishwashing liquid. For really hard and cooked on food, soak them with Dishwasher Detergent. It really gets the hard stuff off easily! That is it for today, except I need to go and wrap the bread once it cools off. This was a busy day, but accomplished a lot, including writing all this down.
Monday – 3/26 – Monti’s BD, but can’t make him a BD Cake because he is not in town. This AM we had the Cinnamon Rolls for Breakfast with Cream Cheese Frosting. Ev had Blueberries with his. Lunch for me was the leftover Bao and Cashew Chicken from last night.
Tonight’s dinner is going to be an easy one. Corned Beef from the Deli with Sauerkraut, Pickles and Homemade Potato Salad. We will make Corned Beef Sandwiches on the Rye Bread I made yesterday. Have to take it easy sometime. Dessert for Ev will be the last of the Chocolate Chip Cookies and Lemon Cookies for me. Tomorrow will have to make a new Chocolate Dessert for Ev.
Sunday, March 18 – 2012:
Today is David’s Birthday and since I invited him for dinner I also asked him to choose what he would like for dinner. He had lost 30 lbs. since December and thought this would be a good day to indulge himself, just this once! So Dinner was Lobster Lasagna, a Pineapple and Artisan Lettuce Salad with (the dressing is going to remain secret) and Sweet Potato Beignets for dessert. I added rustic Olive bread to the menu.
#1: Peeled and cubed the Sweet Potato and cooked it along with 6 ounces of Butternut Squash in salted Water. Once it came to a boil, I shut off the heat and let it sit, covered, on the stove until I needed to use it.
#2: I had some last minute shopping to do, so went to the market and got back by 9:30 and immediately continued with the food prep which went as follows:
#3: Using the Food Processor in a sequence designed to avoid repetitive washing, Shredded the Parmesan Regiano, then sliced the fresh Mozzarella with the thick slicing blade. (Fresh Mozzarella does not shred well unless it is half frozen. Processing it with the slicing blade, ends up with it being half sliced and half shredded which is perfect for Lasagna.
#4: Made the Basil Pasta Dough and wrapped it and set aside to rest.
#5: Made the Olive Bread Dough and placed in greased bowl with plastic wrap in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk.
#6: Made the Dough for the Beignets, covered it with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator for the dough to raise up.
#7: Removed the two Lobster Tails from the shell (froze the shells for later use to make seafood stock), cut up into bite-sized pieces and then marinated with Garlic, Basil, Lemon Juice and Olive Oil. Covered with plastic wrap and placed in refrigerator. (Never marinate seafood for more than 20-30 minutes max!)
#8. Brought in my old Kitchen Aid and attached the Pasta Roller; placed a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil and set out some clean dish cloths, one of them dampened.
#9: David came over and we started rolling out the Pasta Dough, one fourth of the recipe at a time.
#10: While David was running the Pasta Dough through the first 2 numbers on the Pasta Machine, I started sautéing the Lobster. Once that was done, I placed the cooked Lobster meat in a covered dish and proceeded to help David with the Pasta.
#11: We decided that it was easier to roll all the Dough one number at a time rather than having to keep changing the numbers. Once we got to #4, we cooked a small piece to test it. It was not thin enough so we went to 5, repeated the test and then settled on #6 for pasta thin enough not to obscure the sauce, but thick enough to hold up under the sauce and through cutting and serving.
#12: While David rolled, I cooked and placed the cooked pasta on clean dish towels. Fresh Pasta is cooked when it floats to the surface of the boiling water. This took about 20 seconds, as opposed to the 10-12 minutes that dry pasta takes to cook.
#13: We wanted the Lasagna to have enough layers to give each person a substantial slice and to be able to taste the lobster, so I decided to use just a 9 x 12 lasagna pan.
#14: Once the Pasta was cooked, it was time to finish cooking the Sauce for the Lobster. Using the same pan the Lobster was cooked in and with the remnants of the cooking liquid, I heated the pan and added ¾ cup of Madeira Wine to the pan, and over high heat reduced the liquid to about one/fourth of its original volume. I then added 1 ½ pints of Heavy Cream and cooked it over a medium-high heat until it reduced by approximately one- fourth. I then added approximately one cup of Parmesan Cheese, cooked it until the Cheese blended in and then added back the Lobster Meat.
#15: We assembled the Lasagna with alternating layers of Pasta, Lobster Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese. We alternated the direction of the Pasta strips so that the Lasagna would stay together when we cut and served it.
#16: After the Lasagna was assembled, covered and refrigerated, David did the accumulated dishes and ran the dish washed while I punched down the Bread Dough and shaped it into loaves which I then set aside to raise until doubled in bulk. Since it was warm in the kitchen, I knew it would not take long for the Bread to rise, so while the bread was rising, I heated the Oven with the Baking Stone in it. The stone takes at least 30 minutes (preferably longer) to heat up at 500 degrees.
#17: At this point, David had to leave to get some things done and I decided to take a short rest.
#18: Sprinkled Cornmeal on the Peel (wooden paddle for bread and pizza) and placed the first loaf of bread on it and then slid it into the oven to bake. When the first loaf was done, I then baked the second loaf.
#19: Around 3 PM I cooked the Shrimp for the appetizer and then washed the vegetables for the Salad and made the Salad Dressing. This Salad and Dressing was so unusual, that I cannot divulge the ingredients or the Dressing here because I am going to save it for a future class or maybe a book or magazine article.
#20: Trimmed Asparagus and placed in baking pan with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and freshly chopped Basil.
#21: Cleaned 1 ½ lbs. Brown Mushrooms, quartered them and sautéed in Garlic, Olive Oil and Basil then set aside for a quick re-heat to serve at dinner.
#22: Around 4:30 PM Ev set the table and I made the Dip for the cold cooked Shrimp that was our snacking Appetizer and I removed the Lasagna from the refrigerator to warm up. I finished the Salad Prep, leaving the Dressing to go on at the last minute.
#23: People started arriving around 5 and we set out the Shrimp and Beverages. The Lasagna went into the oven.
#24: The Lasagna came out of the oven at 5:45 and the Asparagus went in. Bread was then sliced. We served the Salad and fresh Olive Bread and when that course was completed the Lasagna, Asparagus and reheated Mushrooms were brought to the table and everyone indulged in this extremely satisfying meal, even though it was loaded with calories. Because it was so rich, the pieces were cut into moderate sizes, allowing those who wanted more to have seconds and those who always ate less to have their smaller portions.
#25: When the main portion of the Dinner was finished, we cleared the table, Tina did the dishes, Arthur wrapped the few leftovers there were and I heated the Oil to cook the Sweet Potato Beignets.
#26: The Beignets were served with French Vanilla Ice Cream and a Cinnamon/Anise Sauce to drizzle over the Beignets. We all had a good time and everyone thought the food was delicious. Tina said that she wanted a Birthday Dinner just like this one. Hers last year was Mushroom Lasagna made with Crepes instead of Pasta.
We put a Birthday Candle in David’s Ice Cream and sang Happy Birthday to him. Everyone had a good time and David said he had a great day! It was fun making dinner together. It creates camaraderie and bonding and every family should try it!
Mushroom Barley Soup
Saturday, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day and many of us will be making Corned Beef and Cabbage for the Green Event. Almost always when Corned Beef and Cabbage is prepared for dinner, there are bound to be leftovers. The usual leftover fare for Corned Beef and Cabbage is Corned Beef Hash or Red Flannel Hash as it is known in the New England States. Corned Beef Hash is a very good breakfast or supper item when served with poached eggs on top. However, if you are tired of this version of Corned Beef leftovers try my latest creation “Mushroom Barley Soup”. Mushroom Barley Soup is usually made from Lamb Broth but the cooking liquid from the Corned Beef serves as a perfect vehicle for this hearty Winter fare.
When you have finished cooking and serving your Corned Beef Dinner, skim off any meat particles or fat residue and cook the Barley in the same pot as the Corned Beef was cooked in. Set aside the leftover meat and vegetables and cover and refrigerate them. Follow the directions below and you will have a hearty meal for your family.
MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP
1 medium to large Onion (yellow or white)
2-3 ribs Celery
8 oz. Mushrooms
Cooking liquid from Corned Beef
1 cup Barley
1 Qt. Chicken or Beef Stock, as needed
Leftover Vegetables from Corned Beef & Cabbage (not potatoes)
2 large additional Carrots
Salt and Pepper as needed
- After you have removed the Corned Beef and Vegetables from the cooking liquid, add 1 cup of Barley to the pot with the liquid still in it.
- Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the Barley has softened.
- Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature; place in a covered container and refrigerate, being sure to retain as much liquid as possible.
- When you are ready to make the soup, remove the leftover meat and vegetables and the cooked Barley from the refrigerator.
- Cut the Vegetable up into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Clean and slice 8 oz. of Mushrooms and dice 1 medium Onion.
- Using a large pot, cover the bottom with a thin layer of Olive Oil or melt 4 Tbsps. Butter; add the Onions and Celery to the heated Oil or Butter and sauté until they start to soften.
8. Add the Mushrooms and continue sauteing until the Vegetables begin to caramelize or start to turn
a light brown.
9. Add the Barley and its liquid to the pot; add more water as needed or 2-4 cups of Chicken or Beef Broth.
10. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes (add more liquid if needed) and then add the remaining Vegetables and the leftover Corned Beef, if desired.
11. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary by adding Salt and Pepper as needed.
12. Serve hot in large soup bowls with Rustic Bread and a Green Salad.
Yield: 6-8 Hearty Servings
- NOTE: The Vegetables that I used in the Corned Beef and Cabbage dish were: Cabbage, Carrots, Golden Beets, Baby Red Potatoes (did not use the potatoes or cabbage in the soup)
How many times do you think, “Oh, if only dinner was already made. We all get in that position sometimes, especially if you are a working Mother, Housewife or Father in charge of meals. One solution to this is to take a couple of hours over the weekend and prepare a few meals ahead of time. There are many food items that can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. And while you are busy preparing these food items, did you know that it doesn’t really take any longer to make double the quantity. Half can be for current meals and the other half can be wrapped and frozen for use at a later time.
Our dinner tonight was Cheese and Mushroom Enchiladas which I made yesterday and refrigerated for heating tonight. Since there were only two of us eating dinner tonight, we did not need the dozen Enchiladas that I could have made from the recipe below. What I did was to make six Enchiladas for dinner tonight and with the remaining ingredients, I made a stacked Enchilada Casserole. The ingredients were the same, but the assembly was much simpler. When we do eat the Casserole, I will marinate and grill some Shrimp to go with it. Shrimp only need to be marinated for about 15 minutes (never longer than 20 – they will get mushy otherwise).
For tonight’s dinner, I made mexican-rice/ and a Green Salad with Thousand Island Dressing to go with the Enchiladas. Mexican rice is simple to make and only takes about 20 minutes to cook.
Enchiladas can be made from Chicken, Beef, Cheese or even Seafood. If you have leftovers from a roast or chicken these can be utilized in the Enchilada Production. The recipe below is for Cheese Enchiladas, but you can certainly substitute almost anything else that you wish. You can either use the Sauce recipe or you can purchase canned Enchilada Sauce. The Sauce Recipe below will actually make more than you need for the Enchiladas you will make. You can freeze the leftover sauce and defrost and use it another time.
½ lb. Jack Cheese 8 Corn Tortillas
½ lb. Cheddar Cheese 1 cans ripe Black Olives
1 bunch Scallions 2 cups Enchilada Sauce
- Shred the Cheese and mix together; place in a bowl.
- Wash, dry and slice the Scallions into very small pieces; place in a small dish.
- Drain the Olives and slice thinly; place in a small dish.
- Brush each Tortillas with a small amount of Oil; stack the Tortillas together (6 in a package) and wrap in plastic wrap. Heat in the Microwave for 60 seconds.*
- Heat the Enchilada Sauce just to warm it.
- Dip each warm Tortilla in the warm Enchilada Sauce; coat both sides well.
- Add half the sliced Olives and Scallions to the Shredded Cheeses; divide the mixture among theeight Tortillas.
- Lap the sides of the Tortillas over the Cheese Filling and place each of the Enchiladas, lapped sidedown in a greased, shallow baking dish.
- Garnish the Enchiladas with the remaining Olives and Scallions.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the Cheese is melted.
- If desired, additional Cheese can be spread over the top of the Enchiladas before baking them.
Yield: 8 Enchiladas
* You can eliminate this step and just soften the tortillas in the sauce.
1 clove crushed Garlic Pinch of Sugar
1 ½ Tbsps. Vegetable Oil 1 tsp. Salt
4 cups Chicken Stock ½ tsp. Oregano
¼ cup ground Chili Powder 6 Sprigs fresh chopped Cilantro
6 oz. Tomato Paste
- Using a 2 quart saucepan, cook the Garlic and Chili Powder in the Hot Oil with 3-4 Tbsps. ofthe Chicken Stock. Stir constantly over medium heat for 3-4 minutes; be careful not to burn theChili.
- Stir in the Tomato Paste, remaining Chicken Stock Oregano, Salt and Sugar. Simmer about 15 minutes, then stir in the Cilantro. This Sauce may be refrigerated for several days.
* Commercial Enchilada Sauce may be used instead.
There are actually many types of Tubular Pasta. There is Penne, rigatoni, ziti and more. Penne is my favorite of the Tubular Pasta. Rigatoni are so big that for my taste there is just too much pasta to bite into at one time. Penne are considerably thinner than Rigatoni, but they are still tubular and hold a lot of sauce. One of my favorite uses for Penne is a Tuna Noodle Casserole, one of my husband’s favorite dinners. So, every now and then I will indulge him and make it for dinner. Usually there is leftover so he then can eat it for lunch in the next day or two.
To make a Tuna Noodle Casserole rich in creamy cheese you will need the pasta, 2 cups shredded cheese (your choice, but cheddar or jack is a favorite). I used a blend of Cheddar & Jack. You will also need 2 Tbsps. Butter and Flour and approximately 1 ½ cups of milk. The instructions following will make enough for 3 hearty servings; for a larger amount, just double the ingredients and follow the same instructions. The doubled amount will feed a family of four with leftovers or five to six for one meal.
The pan I used is a stainless steel casserole and is my favorite for just about everything. If you have a large family though you will need a bigger pan and a large oven-proof casserole to put the finished product in.
I also use diced Onion in my casserole for added flavor. Following is the list of ingredients for the smaller dish. For more, just double the given amounts and adjust the cooking equipment to fit the ingredients.
2 cups Penne Pasta
½ cup diced Onion
2 ribs celery, diced
2 Tbsps. unsalted Butter
2 Tbsps. Flour
2 cups Milk
2 cups shredded Cheese
1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. ground White Pepper
1 (5 oz.) can Tuna, packed in Water, well drained
2 Green Onions, minced
½ Red Bell Pepper, diced
- Fill a 4 Qt. Saucepan with Water and add at least a teaspoon of Salt; bring to a boil and then add the Pasta. Stir to separate the Pasta and then cook for 11 minutes or until the Pasta is al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium skillet or the same pan the pasta was cooked in, melt the Butter and then add the Onion and Celery. Cook until the Onion begins to brown and the Celery is softened.
- Stir in the Butter until a paste forms; slowly add the Milk, stirring constantly.
- Continue cooking until the mixture thickens; add the Mustard, Salt & Pepper.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the Cheese just until it melts. Taste for seasoning. If desired, add a splash of Tabasco® or your favorite Hot Sauce.
5. Flake the Tuna and add it to the Cheese Sauce mixture. ( The Tuna can be doubled if you wish)
6. Add the drained Pasta to the Tuna/Cheese mixture and carefully fold in, making sure all the Pasta is
covered with the Sauce.
7. Transfer the entire mixture to a buttered oven proof casserole; top with the minced Onion and
diced Red Bell Pepper.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until all the ingredients are hot and the top is slightly
Yield: 3-4 large Servings
Note: This is a great dish to make early in the day, refrigerate and then just heat it up before dinner. If you are a working Mother, then you can make it the night before and when you come home, just put it in the oven, make a salad and dinner is ready!