This is not a recipe, but a food memory I wanted to share in extremely short story form.
A Little Taste of Hell
For some reason this morning I started thinking about the jar of pepper sauce that was always on our table during my childhood. At that point in my life, it was one of the hottest things I had ever eaten. Resting inside a lovely glass cruet with beautiful scrolled decoration and a glass stopper were little red and green jewels of fire my mother called ‘bird’s eye peppers’. These grew wild in our front flowerbed and she made ‘hot pepper sauce’ as she called it by boiling vinegar and a pinch of salt, which was poured over this fiery little balls.
This hot elixir was used to enhance the flavor of most Southern dishes on a daily basis. Especially any cooked green, but other veggies as well. Pot liquor from anything was made that much better by adding a few drops of this liquid from hell. It burned from tongue on down, but was addictive and I could not stop eating it as a child.
I don’t know what happened to that lovely little glass cruet but at some point it disappeared from our table, as the pepper plants disappeared from the flowerbeds.
Today is a cloudy, grey, cold, rainy spring day and I want some comfort food. In the flavors of my childhood mind, my mouth wants ham, potatoes and green beans with hot cornbread. Of course, in my mind that pepper sauce would be all over the ham, potatoes and beans. I have a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce, but it just is not the same as that hot tangy clear pepper sauce made with those fiery little jewels.
I often find myself needing bread crumbs for some recipe or another and find I have none in the pantry. Rather than panic, I have started making my own … which means I can have my choice of bread and seasonings depending on what I am cooking.
Today I need some basic crumbs for making salmon patties and the bread crumb canister in the pantry was more empty than full. I wanted a bit of seasoning in these crumbs … so this is what I did:
Garlic Parsley Light Bread Crumbs
1 slice artisan white bread
dried parsley flakes … eyeball the amount you want to use
garlic powder … again eyeball
dried onion flakes … about the same amount as parsley
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Crumble the slice of bread into a blender, food processor or I use my NurtiBullet … zap to the desired size you want for bread crumbs
Add the above dry seasonings … or anything that strikes your fancy
Melt the butter into a nonstick sauté pan and add seasoned bread crumbs.
Cook bread crumbs and butter on low for about 20 minutes until they are lightly browned, smell nutty, and slightly crispy.
You are ready to make your waiting creation!
This basic recipe can be used with any type bread, any combination of seasonings or just plain sautéed in butter or a high quality EVOO if you prefer.
Today I also made some Italian flavored bread crumbs using whole wheat bread for a recipe I have brewing in my brain! You are only limited to your imagination. The same basic principle can be applied to making bread cubes … just chop to the desired size and add seasonings; sauté!
*NOTE: I have been asked why I use unsalted butter in my recipes. The answer is … I like to be able to control the amount of salt I eat. Using unsalted butter I don’t overdo the amount in any recipe … you can always add a tiny bit more salt … you can never take it out!
1/4 of a Pablano pepper or pepper of your choice, chopped
1 large garlic clove
1 can Great Norther beans … or other white beans of you choice
Seasoning of your choice
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
A generous turn around the pot of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Water or stock
Chop onion, pepper and garlic
Saute in mixture of EVOO and butter until soft and fragrant
Add shredded ham to develop all flavors … let cook for a minute or two
Next, add the can of beans – undrained
Let simmer on medium for a couple of minutes and check for seasoning and thickness
Adjust seasoning if necessary and add a bit of water to adjust consistency of the soup
Let this simmer for 15-20 minutes
Option – Add a couple of cups of baby spinach or other fresh greens and let wilt just before serving
Serve with cornbread and a dollop of sour cream in the center.
Spicy Cheese Cornbread
Use one package of CornKits or favorite commercial cornbread mix. I like CornKits because it makes the crispy savory cornbread I grew up eating and was my Mom’s go to brand when she didn’t make cornbread from scratch. Sweet cornbread will not work in my family!
Preheat oven according to package directions putting your iron skillet with about a tablespoon of shortening in the pan to melt and have the pan hot and ready for cornbread — this creates the crispy brown bottom and edges that I love.
Add any spices of your choice … I am currently addicted to Cajun Seasoning mix … just eyeball the amount
Follow package directions for making cornbread mix
Last, add about 1 cup of shredded cheese if you choose.
Cook according to package directions and enjoy with this soup,
I know … it has been ages since I posted. No excuses … but I am the Lazy Cook!
A cold front snuck in during the night and I needed comfort food. We had been teased for weeks with warm weather and today was a slap in the face when I went out just before dawn when I fed barn cats. My brain started clicking through what was in the fridge and what would warm me up today. When I got back inside and had my first cup of coffee it was decided … Veggie Stew with Kielbasa.
I had both kale and collards that needed to be cooked or the birds would have a feast. Fresh organic carrots, purple topped turnips, and about half of a sausage that was used earlier in the week. So … breakfast done, websites and email checked so it was time to chop. Below are the ingredients and how I built the layers of flavor for this stew.
1/4 chopped white onion
1/4 chopped Pablano pepper – but use what you like
1 small shallot
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, diced
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1 can of chickpeas, reserve juice
2 pieces of bacon – left over from breakfast, crumbled
1/2 Kielbasa, diced
3 leaves of kale, stemmed and chopped
4 leaves of collards, stemmed and chopped
1/2 tablespoon unsweetened butter
2 turns of the pan with extra virgin olive oil
1 cup concentrated chicken stock
Chop all veggies … I even chop the stems from kale and collards. They add a wonderful texture and additional flavor as well as being nutrient rich.
I keep frozen chicken stock at all times since I cook a whole chicken every other week for my cats with sensitive tummies. I placed this frozen block of golden goodness in a medium sauce pan to melt while I chopped the veggies. But use canned stock, veggie stock, or chicken bouillon and water to used for cooking the veggies.
In a saute pan, add butter and olive oil. When butter is melted add onion, shallot, and pepper. When onions are translucent add garlic so it will cook without burning. Let these veggies cook until fragrant and flavors are blended.
Add in half the mixture of greens and let them wilt in with the sautéed veggies. When there is room, add the remaining greens and continue to wilt.
To about 1 cup chicken stock, add carrots, turnip, stems from the greens, and your choice of seasonings. Add enough additional water to cover veggies. I have become addicted to using Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning because it has just the right amount of heat for my taste buds!
Let the veggies come to almost a boil and reduce heat. Add sautéed veggies and cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
When greens are almost tender, add chick peas and sausage.
If additional liquid is needed, add the reserved juice from the chick peas.
Just before serving crumble in bacon.
To make this vegan or vegetarian, omit butter and sausage.
This stew works with any greens you like, I just happened to have both kale and collards in my fridge.
Wow … where does the time go … it has been a long time since I posted to this site. I have been doing a bunch of cooking, but not posting. I promise to do better from now own!
This morning I needed something that is hearty, filling, warm and comforting. While it is sunny and clear today, we have a brisk north wind that blew in over night dropping the temps close to freezing this morning.
I had all of the ingredients on hand so this is what I threw together and have simmering on the stove right now. The picture is actually of the simmering pot! I need to get my wonderful photographer friend Shelly to teach me how to make gifs!
Below is my tasting sample to decide if any seasoning adjustments need to be made. Still deciding, basic seasonings are all good, but I may need to add a bit of spice to kick it up a notch as Emeril would say … I think a good large spoonful of salsa.
Now for the Ingredients:
1/2 pound ground meat – browned and not drained
1 small shallot – finely chopped
1 large garlic clove – finely chopped
1/4 green pepper – chopped
About 20 cherry tomatoes – chopped
1 can mixed vegetables – undrained
Barley – about 2 ounces or a little more
Season to taste
Water to cover
In a medium sauce pan, brown ground meat to desired degree of doneness. I gave a good shake of my S&P mix as well as my garlic & onion powder mix for seasoning as it browns.
Add shallots and green pepper and cook until soft and fragrant.
I keep a container of caramelized onions mixed with sautéed mushrooms in the fridge at all times … I added about 2 tablespoons to blend with meat and veggies … this is optional, but I like the added flavor.
Add garlic now and cook briefly to release flavors but not too long to prevent bitterness.
Add chopped tomatoes and stir well.
Next, add the undrained can of mixed veggies and check seasoning … adjust as needed.
Add enough water to cover everything well and let simmer a couple of minutes.
Check for seasoning one more time … adjust as needed.
Now add the barley; stir well and add more water if you think the barley will need it.
Simmer for 20 minutes until barley is well cooked and stew thickens to your desired taste.
I can’t believe it has been forever since I made a post. Life sometimes takes unexpected turns and cooking took a back burner to other things. However, yesterday I needed comfort food and Chicken and Rice soup with veggies was what I was craving. Having cooked a whole chicken to feed my cats who have tummy issues, I had wonderful chicken stock and I usually the breast for me when I cook for them. So … I grabbed pots and ingredients and had this soup in a bowl in no time flat!
About 1/2 cup chopped chicken
A cup of chicken stock plus enough water to make the soup
1 can mixed veggies
1/4 cup uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped canned green chilies
Seasoning to taste
About 1 – 1/2 teaspoons butter
In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and toast rice until it smells nutty. (I begin all rice I cook this way to add depth of flavor!)
Add the chicken stock and water; cook rice until nearly done.
While rice is cooking, add both peppers to infuse flavor into the stock and rice
When rice is almost done, add undrained mixed veggies and chicken
Add seasoning of your choice to taste and simmer until everything is heated through.
If needed, add more water to make the soup your desired consistency.
I saw a wonderful crock pot recipe for a southwest stew and this recipe is my version with what I had on hand. I have been awake since 2 am and I am posting at 7 am … so the stew is almost ready to eat … I have had a couple of spoonfuls already … quality control!
*About a pound of hamburger … cooked with favorite seasonings … I used my S&P blend with my garlic blend and chili blend. Some day I will reveal the chili blend … but not right now!!!
*1/4 small onion, chopped
*1 clove garlic, chopped
*About 2 tablespoons chopped Pablano Pepper
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 can pinto beans
1 can shoepeg corn
1 can petite diced tomatoes
After meat is almost done, add in chopped onion, garlic and Pablano peppers and continue to cook until all are fragrant.
Put this mixture into the crock pot and add …
Add enough water to make the mixture to your desired thickness … I used all the liquid from each canned item and did not add any additional water.
Pop on the lid, turn to high and let the crock pot do its magic!
I plan to serve this with a dollop of sour cream and a wedge of cornbread later today. It is all I can do to keep from eating a bowl right now for breakfast…but I will be good!
Here is something you can do with some of your Thanksgiving leftovers. I call it ‘redneck’ because I didn’t use the classic arborio rice. This works with left over turkey, left over steamed broccoli and even left over rice if you had any of these for your Thanksgiving feast.
*About 4 cups of good chicken stock. I always have it on hand because I cook a whole chicken once a week and keep the stock to use for lots of yummy things.
*Two stalks of broccoli cut into bite size flowerettes, steamed
*3/4 – 1 cup of rice
*Seasoning to taste
3/4 – 1 cup of chopped chicken or turkey
*1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheese
Add about a half tablespoon unsalted butter and seasonings of your choice to a large sauce pan. When butter is melted and seasoning incorporated, add rice and let it toast slightly … I do this for any rice dish I cook … this step adds a layer of flavor.
I added all the chicken stock at once … also ‘redneck’ since traditional risotto is a longer cooking method of adding warm stock and letting the rice absorb … repeating until rice is cooked. Bring the rice and stock mixture to a simmer and cook until nearly all the liquid is absorbed.
Now is when I add the cooked broccoli and let it mix well with the rice.
Add chicken and stir … check for seasoning
5. Remove from stove top and stir in grated cheese
BTW … I made this about 7 am this morning … was wonderful for breakfast! Might try with a sunny side up egg sometime!
I promised to post this yesterday, but life has a way of taking over sometimes. I am a hummus junkie … I love all flavors and all brands … even my on limited attempts at making my own.
When I did my weekly shopping earlier this week, the diary manager of my little rural grocery was shelving the weekly special, Hummus. Now, in sheep and goat country people don’t have a clue what hummus is, but this guy like me loves it and took a chance. Thinking the Jalapeño flavor might draw the more adventuresome folks to try this delight, he took a leap of faith and bought it for the weekly special. We stood talking about our favorite flavors and he said it would start bringing in more varieties with future orders. He was not familiar with the particular brand, but he did like this one he ordered. I assured him that all the flavors were really good. Hopefully, those dairy shelves will soon be stocked with more than one flavor at a time!
Jalapeño Hummus Toast with Sweet Peppers and Hash Brown Scramble
I love avocado toast and thought with my new Jalapeño Hummus it would be perfect on toast with a good scramble. So, this is how the recipe came to life!
1 container of hummus … your favorite flavor … or make your own
1 slice toast per person
3-4 sliced mini sweet peppers … use the different colors to add interest
Your choice of grated cheese
Your favorite hash browns – I used something my little grocery store calls SPUDS that are a cross between hash browns and spicy tater tots … laced with cheese and jalapeño peppers … I have a slight addiction to these little jewels.
Make toast by your favorite method … for me that is skillet toast using unsweetened butter.
Chop peppers while toast is doing its thing getting all brown and crunchy.
Add more butter, seasoning of your choice and sauté peppers.
While peppers are cooking, spread toast with about a tablespoon of hummus … or more!
Just as peppers reach the desired doneness for your taste, toss in the hash browns and continue cooking until they are brown and crispy.
Break in an egg, add seasoning and scramble with peppers and hash browns. Top with your choice of grated cheese.
This morning was the coldest yet this Fall. I needed comfort food, but most of all I need high protein comfort food. My body operates at it’s best when I begin the day with good quality protein and I had been neglecting it lately. The protein push began yesterday and will continue until I get my machine back in proper running order.
My friends…please, please, please listen to your body and treat it like you would any high performance machine. If it is not fueled properly, it will tell you in a variety of ways if you will only pay attention and listen to its needs.
In my other life, I taught high school and middle school home economics for many years. During that time, I taught some wonderful young men who wanted to learn to cook and loved food … who doesn’t. One young man in particular too extra special care of me. His mother made killer potato, egg and cheese breakfast tacos. This young man had a prime breakfast taco business going daily during the school’s morning 15 minute break for staff and students. I always was given one every day and when I tried to pay like his other customers he refused because he said I took care of him…but that is another story.
So… this recipe has its origins in his mother’s breakfast tacos. Try as I might, I could never make them as good as his mom and gave up trying. Everything is cooked in the same skillet allowing the flavors to build as you go. I think you will enjoy this high protein comfort food breakfast!
This is a dish that can be used for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a light supper. Just add a side salad and fruit and you have a perfect light meal.
Ingredients: (per taco)
1 egg, scrambled
1 half slightly under ripe avocado, cubed
A couple of slices of fresh firm tomato
1-2 Tablespoons chopped onion
2 mini potatoes or 1/4 small tomato, cubed
2 slices of pepper jack cheese — or your favorite
1 Flour tortilla per person
EVOO or unsalted ‘real’ butter … that petroleum-based margarine stuff is banned from my kitchen
Seasonings to taste – I keep a 50/50 salt and pepper blend on my stove. I also used my on personal chili pepper blend — would have to kill you if I gave that out! I also keep a blend of onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper blended in a shaker … 1/3 of each … next to my S&P shaker.
You favorite salsa, optional
Cube potato and rinse well to remove extra starch.
Add them to a small skillet with your choice of seasonings and about a teaspoon of EVOO or butter
Sauté until soft and crispy.
Use a couple of slices of onion from a medium and chop these while the potatoes are cooking.
When potatoes are almost to your liking, add the onions with a bit of extra garlic powder.
Warm a flour tortilla over this mix as it finishes cooking until the tortilla is soft and will be easy to roll.
Remove tortilla to a warming plate, top with a couple of slices of pepper jack cheese … hang over heat will begin melting the cheese.
Put sautéed potatoes and onions in a bowl to stay warm.
Quickly sear tomato slices in the same skillet … season to taste.
Cut the avocado in half, twist apart and slice the part without the seed into cubes still in the skin. Using a large spoon, scoop out avocado cubes into the same skillet you used for potatoes and onions … drizzle a bit more EVOO and chili powder over avocado cubes … sauté on medium until slightly softened and brown on the edges…remove to a bowl.
If needed, add a bit more EVOO or butter to the skillet and scramble egg to your favorite stage of cooking … for me it is a soft scramble. Season as you choose.
Build the taco … top tortilla and cheese with sautéed potatoes and onions. Top with scrambled eggs … more cheese if you like. Salsa if you like. Then roll loosely with the seam side down on the plate.