Tag Archives: quick recipe

Sweet Sauté

3 May
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Yes please! YUM!

Cooking up something fresh is divine. And in this case, quick and easy. There is nothing like the golden bliss of sautéd onions. The house becomes wrapped in the scents of oniony deliciousness wafting through the air. That, my friend, is an epicureans dream.

When cooking onions, cook up a big batch. Why? Well because of their versatility and their big flavor pop. They last for a couple of days in the fridge, and freeze beautifully for 3 months-always ready to pull out and jazz up just about anything,

For this recipe, the onions need to be uniformly sliced. A mandolin makes quick work of slicing onions, and a cast iron skillet practically does the rest of the work for you. First, get everything ready and you can zip through this recipe in no time.

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Just a few simple ingredients to yummy sautéed onions!

Get your skillet warmed up over a slow low heat while gathering prepping ingredients. You will need a couple of sweet onions (I prefer vidalia), butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Time to peel and cut the onions. After your onions are free from their papery outer layer, a mandolin makes slicing the onions a snap, and they will all be the same width. Perfect for sautéing. But if a mandolin is out of the question a good sharp knife will work just fine.

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Slicing vegetables is so easy with a mandolin-a very useful kitchen tool.

After the onions are ready for the pan, turn your heat up to medium. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Let that heat up, and then gently slip in the onions. Drizzle the oil over the onions and stir.

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Slide those onions gently into the hot skillet.

Just listen to that sizzle as you add the onions! Oh yes, this is simple but special. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over these guys, give them a stir, and let the hot pan do its job.

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Just a dusting of salt and pepper is perfect for these onions.

Salt and pepper is perfect for these sweet onions, but if you are feeling moody or sassy, go ahead and add more spice, like red pepper flakes. That will kick these fellas up a bit! Give this a stir and let the cast iron skillet and heat do the work.

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A quick stir and you can sit back for a bit.

The onions can sizzle on medium heat for about 10 minutes before moving them around the pan a bit. If they seem a bit dry, go ahead and drizzle a bit more olive oil into the pan.  These little beauties should be getting brown-and getting sweeter.

The scents floating though the kitchen when these are cooking are so enticing. Just imagine what you can put these on (a big ol’ sandwich), or into (a succulent rice dish), or along side (a zesty barbecue chicken thigh) or layer onto (a pizza)! Just sayin…

When the onions are sweet, brown, and ready to come off the heat, its time to finish this off right. Grab your balsamic vinegar and layer on some more flavor. Just a bit will add nice balance to these onions.

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A little bit of acid finishes these onions off perfectly.

And Voila! In a snap you have a glorious onion dish. Use them as you wish, and if you have leftovers, they keep in the freezer beautifully for 3 months. Whatcha doing with your sweet sautéed onions? Let me know!

Amys Sautéed Sweet Onions

  • 2-3 sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 2 T. high quality butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat pan to a medium heat. Place butter in pan, and when melted and bubbling hot, add onions. Stir and add olive oil over the onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir. After 10 minutes stir again. When limp and golden brown, turn off heat, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, adjust seasonings and remove from pan. They are now ready to enjoy!

 

 

 

Pimiento Perfection!

5 May

Pimiento Cheese. I’d never heard of it till a vacation in Florida. It was there, on Marco Island at age twenty something, that I first tasted the savory deliciousness that was pimiento cheese. It was good. Really good.

It was store bought. And come to find out my grocer at home didn’t carry it. Longing for that flavor of vacation, I decided to make it from scratch. I started with a recipe. Over the years I have added my own twists and flavors. Now I’m hooked. You will be too.

Grab your box grater and let’s toss this together. It is super easy to make. In my fridge I had some smokey gouda cheese but only about 3 ounces, so I also grabbed a hunk of cheddar. That is part of the beauty of this recipe-you can really customize it to your taste and what you have on hand.

Besides the cheese, I also pulled out mayonnaise and a jar of pimentos. A dash of vinegar will give the cheese a punch. Next I got a big mixing bowl out and start grating.

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I put the freshly grated cheese into the mixing bowl. It was large enough to do some robust mixing.

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Next I simply add some mayonnaise, the drained jar of pimiento, and a dash of vinegar. And, of course, a little salt and pepper too. Some folks like to use some cottage cheese with their mayo, and others opt for a little sour cream.

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Then I blend, fold and scrape my way to a lovely delicious mixture.

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When you make it, put this in the fridge for a bit before digging in. That way the flavors have time come together and balance out. If you are feeling a bit sassy,  add some diced jalapeño peppers. The heat that the peppers bring to this delectable treat is heavenly.

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That is all there is to it. Get ready for some major YUM!

PIMIENTO CHEESE RECIPE

  • 8 ounces cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 jar chopped pimiento, drained
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl. Refrigerate until use. Spread on crackers or celery.

By the way, if you have some pimiento cheese left tomorrow, use it to make an out of this world grilled cheese sandwich!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Basics

12 Feb

If you don’t have one, run out and get one. What in the world am I talking about? A cast iron skillet. It is a kitchen must have. A basic. But don’t go to an expensive kitchen store to get one. Go to your local hardware store. You will find the best brand at your good old hardware store-Lodge.

As I love to cook, I have a couple cast iron skillets. One  of my favorites has ridges to sear a lovely tenderloin, grill some delicious hamburgers. or make a creamy warm panini. There are a zillion ways to use your cast iron skillet. If you keep it seasoned, it will also become something you can hand down through the generations. Here is one of my well seasoned cast iron skillets.

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How do you season it you ask? It is easy. But remember, you need to continue to season your cast iron skillet every so often. Here are some tips to season your skillet:

  • Wash the cookware with hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse and dry completely.
  • Apply melted solid vegetable shortening (or cooking oil of your choice) to the cookware inside and out. Too much oil will result in a sticky finish so keep your application thin.
  • Set oven temperature to 350 – 400 degrees F.
  • Place cookware upside down on the top rack of the oven to prevent pooling.
  • Bake the cookware for at least one hour. After the hour, turn the oven off and let the cookware cool in the oven.
  • Store the cookware uncovered
  • Repeat as necessary
  • When I use and wash my skillet, I dry it not with a towel but over low heat on a burner.

I recently used this skillet to sear some zucchini for dinner. I simply split the zucchini lengthwise, and sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Next, I got my cast iron skillet good and hot on the stove. Then I seared the zucchini halves with the flesh side down first.

Grilled zucchini in my (very inexpensive) cast iron grill pan.  It was sizzling and searing.  Yum! I seared it much like a piece of meat. After searing one side, I turned it over and seared the second side. I flipped the fleshy side of the zucchini up and put a little freshly served parmesan on top. Ooh! So yummy!

I flipped the fleshy side of the zucchini up and put a little freshly served parmesan on top.  Ooh!  So good!

This recipe is a keeper.  It was super quick, hardly any ingredients, and so very tasty!  It was beautiful on the plate as well.  So look for variety not only in your food, but in ways to prepare them.

 

 

 

Soup Time!

30 Dec

Cold weather is soup weather. When the chill sets in, the soup goes on. I decided to try making a soup I had never made before. And I wanted to make it from scratch. My darling Denis talked about his sister Kathy’s Italian Wedding Soup. He remembered it being quite delicious. Decision made.

Italian Wedding Soup has meatballs, so my first order of business after finding a recipe that I could start with (while making it my own) was to make meatballs. I used a couple of types of ground meat, bread crumbs, a beaten egg, and some italian seasoning. While some epicureans fry their meatballs, I bake mine. I cooked up a big batch so there were extra to put into the freezer for another day.

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While the meatballs were cooling, I assembled the rest of my ingredients. Cooked meatballs, chicken stock (both homemade and store bought), shredded carrots, celery, arugula and spinach, orzo, eggs, parmesan cheese, and finally salt and pepper were set to come together in one magnificent soup. The homemade chicken stock was loaded with succulent herbss-and would perfectly season the soup.

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Next I started chopping. I like everything ready when I begin making something, It just makes it easier to assemble.

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Just a little FYI…when I use celery in a recipe, I use both the outer stalks and the leafy insides. I don’t waste any flavorful tidbit when I cook.

Next I sautéed the carrots and celery in a little butter. Then I added the stock. My first  ever soup kettle of Italian Wedding Soup was underway. The tantalizing aromas floating through the house brought my darling Denis to the kitchen. One of the many things I love about cooking…the kitchen becomes an impromptu gathering place.

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The soup was bubbling away, and the scents wafting through the house made the frosty day outside fade away . Next, more building of the flavors when the chopped arugula and spinach went into the broth.

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Then it was time to froth up the eggs. When I add eggs to any recipe, they sit on the counter for about 20 minutes to come to room temperature before adding them to a recipe. Eggs work better in recipes when they are room temperature.

 

After whipping the eggs, I stirred the soup and slowly drizzled the eggs in-they cooked slowly as they were added. The soup was coming together beautifully.

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The house was filled with the warmth of bubbling soup.

In went the meatballs. They just had to be heated through and the soup was complete. Time to dig in!

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Freshly grated parmesan garnished the soup. Cripsy garlic bread completed the meal. While it was chilly outside, inside it was warm and oh so delicious.

Soup lends itself to personal csutomization. It can be easily tailored to taste. Love pepper? Grind some flavorful heat into the soup. Want more veggies? Chop them up and toss them in. Is vegetarian soup your preference? Use tofu and vegetable broth. Easy Peasy. Let your food express your personality and have fun!

 

Roasted Veggies 3 Ways

23 Dec

The other day I had two things:  a lot of good fresh vegetables and a little extra time.  So why not roast up those vegetables! I started peeling, chopping and layering.  This was going to be a big honking batch of veggies!  Mushrooms, bell peppers, squash, onions…Yum!

A big batch it was. My largest kitchen bowl was full of colorful vegetables. What next? I dusted the vegetables with salt and pepper. I sprinkled basil and parsley on the vegetables as well.

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Olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar completed the prep work.  After a good healthy stir, I poured them onto a lined baking dish and placed them in a preheated 400 degree oven.  Almost immediately, warm succulent aromas began to fill the air.  My mouth began to water with those decadent scents wafting from the oven.

I checked the vegetables after 15 minutes in the oven and couldn’t resist sneaking a taste. What a delicious bite!  Back into the oven for a few minutes, and then they were ready.  The roasted veggies were delicious that night for dinner with lovely grilled salmon.

Did I mention that it was a big ol’ batch of roasted veggies?  And that I love leftovers?  Did we ever have leftovers! And like spaghetti, the vegetables were better the next day. How did they get used up?

Leftovers day one: Roasted veggies made an amazing addition to an omelet the next morning.

Leftovers day two:  I cooked quinoa to mix into the vegetables.  That created  a protein and nutrient dense powerhouse that were perfect after a workout.

Leftovers day three: Roasted veggies piled on a turkey sandwich.  Who needs mayo?

And that is what you do with leftovers my friends.  When you have a bit of extra time, cook big. Then enjoy good food and time savings later! Let me know what you do with your leftovers!

Snap

13 Jun

Want dinner in a snap?  I think it is possible to put a healthy dinner on the table in less time than going to the drive thru.  Yes, a healthy dinner can be on the table in about half an hour.  With planning.

Sure it takes planning.  But that can be done while standing in line, waiting for a dentist appointment, or waking up with that morning cup of coffee.  It can be as simple as jotting down notes.  I use my smart phone to make my grocery list, and that advance planning helps me get through the store in a snap.

Sometimes planning is just a simple trip to the freezer to pull something out in the morning to cook in the evening.  Let me tell you how simple planning helped me with a healthy home cooked meal last week.

In the morning, I pulled some chicken out of the freezer and popped in the fridge.  By the time I came home from work, the chicken was thawed.  I fired up the grill, lightly seasoned the chicken, ans tossed it on the grill to cook.  The chicken breasts were thinly cut, so I knew they would cook quickly.

In the meantime, I put a pot of water on the stove for some pasta.  Angel hair pasta cooks quickly, so I pulled that from the pantry. It would be perfect with the leftover pasta sauce in the fridge  I took some frozen asparagus from the freezer, and thought it would round out dinner nicely.

The pasta cooked in about 5 minutes.  I also tossed frozen peas (I warmed them with the sauce) into the pasta for a little color. The chicken was done in about 20 minutes.  I let it rest for a few minutes, then sliced the breasts thin.  (Culinary side note:  meat is more tender when allowed to rest.  I time my proteins to be done 10 minutes before everything else.  I then drizzle olive oil over the meat, cover with foil, and let rest). The asparagus went into the microwave.

With a little planning, I had a healthy dinner on the table on a weeknight in about 30 minutes.  what can you make with little time on a weeknight?

Dinner in a snap.  Grilled chicken, angel hair pasta with cheese pea sauce, and asparagus.  YUM!

Dinner in a snap. Grilled chicken, angel hair pasta with cheese pea sauce, and asparagus. YUM!

Seven Super Spices-Mission Accomplished!

29 Dec

Busymomswellnesss has been on a mission to get more spices in use in our kitchens.  The benefits of spices are undeniable, and hey…who doesn’t need a kick in the wellness pants every now and again?  Spices, all plant based, provide a wonderful flavor punch to food, are loaded with beneficial antioxidants, and they have medicinal healing properties.  Adding spices to our food can have a big impact on overall good health.

Cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, turmeric and sage have been covered in this series of super spices.  Time to move along to the seventh and final spice.  Remember, though, while these spices are fantastic, do not be limited by these seven.  Use them as a springboard to inspire planning, cooking, and discovering new flavors.  Allow these seven fabulous spices to expand the palate and mind.  That said, the seventh super spice to discover, rediscover, and use is…clove!

For quite some time I thought clove was either an “artsy” cigarette that was super cool (what can I say?  I have never been a smoker!) or something poking out of a ham.  Yikes!  Did I really just admit to that level of ignorance?  Ugh!  Good news though.  I have now moved far beyond that in the quest to increase wellness through an in-depth second look at super spices.

Cloves, like all spices, have positive effects on wellbeing.  How so?  Cloves have been used for healing in Indonesian and Chinese medicine for centuries, a tradition that continues today.  Cloves have been attributed with the ability to relieve everything from an earache to toothaches.  They are great for gastrointestinal disorders and upset, such as nausea.  They reduce hypertension.  Cloves can he;p reduce inflammation related to arthritis.

From a nutritional standpoint, cloves are a good source of fiber.  They are also rich in vitamin C, important for tissue repair in the body, and vitamin K.  Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting.  Cloves are a great source of manganese, which is beneficial for bone health, regulating blood sugar, and helps thyroid function.  The list goes on.   There is no downside here folks.

Cloves are buds from an evergreen tree that is indigenous to Indonesia.  They are available to use in three forms:  whole, powder, and oil.   As you can imagine, they have the same benefits but are used differently.  Whole cloves are woody and used in many dishes, but often removed prior to consumption.   Cloves in powder form are often added to sweet dishes, such as muffins, and savory dishes like sweet potato casserole.  Clove oil is a natural remedy for infections and pain.  It is widely used, but since oil is concentrated, it must be used in moderation.

To get started, try this simple stewed fruit recipe. 

Stewed Fruit

  • 2 apples or pears, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 3-4 cups water

Place the chopped apples or pears, sugar, cloves and water in a medium-sized pot and cook on medium heat till the apples are soft. Drain and remove cloves.   Toss them warm onto oatmeal for a hearty breakfast or allow them to cool and add them to your favorite low fat low sugar yogurt.  Isn’t it time to see what wonderful dishes you can discover with cloves?  Bon appetite!

Here comes the sixth super spice!

22 Dec

Spices have wonderful medicinal healing powers.  The benefits are undeniable.  There is no reason to leave them out of our home cooking.  Don’t like heavy flavors?  No problem. Use them lightly.   Spices, even in small amounts, have healing properties.

So far, we have looked at cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, and turmeric.  Next comes sage.  This is a real brain booster so lets start adding it to our wellness improvement program!

In my past, I associated sage with pork breakfast sausage.  And I heard that some folks added it to their thanksgiving stuffing.  My mom was not a fan of sage, so I wasn’t familiar with it as a child.  And while she may not have liked sage, my mom gave me a creative spirit, a love of cooking, and a deeply ingrained value of family and togetherness, so I discovered sage on my own cooking for my kids.  I gotta say, I am digging it!

We have been discovering sage together as a family.  With the flavors and positive health  properties in mind, I purchased a bottle of dried sage.  We all opened the bottle and smelled it.  I talked about the recipes and flavor profile with my family.  I also reached out to others to get another point of view on sage.  Off we went.  Sage has been a wonderful addition to our culinary palate.  The medicinal properties are an added bonus.

Herbalists will likely recommend sage for an upset stomach or sore throat relief.  Stories abound of monks in the middle ages using sage leaves to make a healing syrup for easing symptoms of bronchitis and coughs.  Rumor has it that opera singers gargle with sage tea to reduce voice strain.  Sage is also credited with boosting memory and increasing attention span.  Hey, I will try anything to decrease my occasional brain fog and reduce my brain farts!

Ready to try sage?  It really is wonderful.  Liking bottled sage, I have graduated to using fresh sage leaves sometimes.  I have a wonderful recipe to kick off your experience with sage.  It is a simple pasta sauce.

Sage Pasta Sauce

  • 8 ounces Pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup stock (I use chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, added when pasta is done
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  Whisk gently to incorporate.  Add sage leaves and lemon juice and zest.  Whisk gently.  Set aside while the pasta is cooking.  Put sauce back on a medium heat after the pasta is done and drained.  Bring to a gentle simmer.  Add the stock and pasta cooking water.  Gently simmer for 5 minutes.   Add the cheese, toss with pasta and serve.

There you have it.  Now start creating!  Be inspired! Get healthier!  Let spices do their thing and start enjoying better health in a simple manner.  Bon appetite!

Simple side

17 Sep

Fall is in the air, but I am still savoring the end of summer.  I have made one last big batch of summer barbecue  and slaw, but I could not resist adding a twist to my tried and true barbecue menu.  It was so delicious and refreshing that I am now adding it to my list of favorite simple sides.

Fresh delicious side!  Loaded with flavor, packed with nutrition!

Fresh delicious side! Loaded with flavor, packed with nutrition!

Just look at that!  Beautiful on any picnic table, dinner table, or brunch table!  It was a snap to make, and a healthy side dish.  I like crisp textures, a visually appealing presentation, and natural pure  tastes.  Here is my recipe:

Amy’s Fresh Greek Melon Salad

  •  1/4 of a watermelon, about 2 cups,  chopped
  • 1/2 cantaloupe, about 1 cup, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, chopped
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 T. chopped mint

Keep ingredients refrigerated in separate containers until serving time.  Just before serving, toss together.  Serve.  It is that easy.  And this is a fantastic recipe to adjust to what you have on hand, to fit into a certain budget, or for the personal taste of who will be eating it.

Personally, i enjoy the taste of fruits and vegetables together,  There is nothing like a good fall lettuce salad with chopped apples or pears.  You may not think that you will like the cucumber mixed in with the melons, but cucumbers are mild and sweet, and the pairing just works.  Give it a go, add your own flair, and enjoy!

What’s for dinner? (the next night!)

6 Aug

Think you don’t have time to cook?  Think again.  I truly believe that a well planned nutritious meal can be on the table in less time than going to the drive thru.  Sure it takes some planning, but running a good meeting, a good press conference, a well run home takes planning.  If I can do it, anyone can!

As most of you know, meals made from my fridge are among my most creative, flavorful, and easy.  I am a busy working mother, so time is my most precious commodity these days.  I need to use every moment to my best advantage to get things done.  Spending 5 minutes digging things out of the pantry, fridge and freezer, and another couple of minutes cooking is a great way to bring a budget friendly meal to the table.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I took a minute and grabbed a pork tenderloin out of the freezer.  I put it on a plate, popped it into the microwave, and started defrosting it.  When I left for work, I took it out of the microwave and put it in the fridge to finish defrosting.  It was going to sit in there all day, so it had plenty of time to finish defrosting.  It was ready to use when I got home.

Fast forward to 6:00.  I came in from work and started to oven, setting the temperature to 400.  While chatting with my children, I grabbed an oven safe  skillet, sprayed a little non stick spray in it, and turned the burner onto medium high.  I took the tenderloin, drizzled it with olive oil, salt and pepper, then quickly browned it up in the skillet.  I sprinkled it with a little herb de Provence as it browned.  Then I popped it into the hot oven.  It would only need about 20-25 minutes to cook.  Next,  I poured a glass of wine and changed into comfortable clothes.

Now relaxing, it was back to the kitchen to start some wild rice.  I added 2 cups of vegetable broth, 1 cup of wild rice, and a little pepper to a sauce pan.  I put it on  a high heat until it started boiling.  Down to a low simmer, lid on, that would be ready in about 15 minutes.  Now for the vegetable.

I like to keep frozen and canned vegetables handy to use when time is short.  This was such an occasion.  I got a family size bag of frozen broccoli/cauliflower out of the freezer and put it in the microwave to begin cooking.  The tenderloin came out of the oven.  I put in on a plate and tented it with foil.  It is critical to tent meat and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.  The juices flow back into the meat, assuring it will be juicy.

The rice was ready, the tenderloin had rested, and the veggies were good and hot.   The children had set the table while dinner was cooking, so onto the table it went.  We were having a wonderful family dinner in no time!  Simple, fun, and delicious!