Last Sunday was father’s day, Mike and Laurel came over which was all I really wanted. I can’t explain how proud of him I am he has done well just want it to take off for him so to speak he has so much to offer and does. Laurel brightens any situation she is always so up and being a foodie puts her in a special place in my heart. Since I got what I wanted and Mikie was not going to be around for Lyn’s birthday on the 29th I thought why not take advantage of this gathering and throw a surprise birthday party. Laurel, Mike and I thought about it and a new Nespresso maker that Lyn had been hinting about for years is what we decided on. Sunday morning I snuck out at 6:30 AM to pick up the Boston Cream Pie, her favorite, (I don’t bake) that I ordered from Ray & Dick’s Bakery. Then I thought to Facebook message a bunch of family and friends to have them text her Happy Surprise Birthday at 2 PM. It was success and for someone who normally does not get a lot of texts she was delighted. I love this woman and was happy to see her big fat smile for the text and the espresso maker. So enough of the mushiness. I cooked Missi’s Dill Chicken with Tomato-Dill Relish and ribs for Father’s day. The ribs I cheated bought pre-cook and wrapped in tinfoil with sauce and baked at 175 for hours and finished on the grill. Being a good father I cooked enough so that leftovers could be taken home which left me with this week of leftover meals. The ribs, I eat fatty meats very limited these days, I dove into on Monday only looking up to wipe my face when they were all gone. Lyn bought some macaroni salad for Sunday which I made a meal of the leftover and diced Dill chicken breast, the Blue Grass Coleslaw also from WholeFoods was added to my regular work lunch salad with chicken and 18 year old balsamic vinegar. That brought me to last night everything gone what to do. We had bought some ground bison and I had frozen two leftover patties so I defrosted them and add a few things to make a Stuffed red bell pepper.
- 1 red bell pepper slice in half length wise
- 1 carrot grated and minced
- ½ shallot minced
- A few cherry tomatoes chopped fine
- ¼ lb. ground bison
- Hoisin sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste – I used very little
- Red pepper flakes
- Grated cheese – whatever you have on hand – I had parmesan
Sauté the shallot and oils in a little butter and olive oil until shallots are slightly transparent
Add ground beef and a pinch of hot pepper flakes and cook until brown
Add tomatoes and about 1 tbs. Hoisin sauce
Stir to mix
Stuff the pepper halves and top with cheese
Roast in 350 oven for about 10-15 minutes until cheese melts
Then I ate! Was pretty good for a from the gut meal!
I go through spurts with cooking and have always tried to overcook, the amount not the food. I use leftovers as additions to my daily lunch salad, others freeze for another day in perfect one meal portions, while some I use for leftover meals, look at what I have and experiments on how to use.
Some of my best minced chicken lettuce wraps came about in this manner. This has come in handy recently especially with Lyn on her special diet. This is not to say I won’t cook during the week but I do tend to cook more on weekends. I think any Chicken or meat dishes freeze and reheats well especially the meatballs in or out of sauce.
After a while the freezer gets pretty full so I pull out my frozen menu for the week and place them on the frig shelf. It’s kind of fun when one can plan a week worth of meals just sitting there waiting to be reheated. Some things freeze and reheat well other do not American Chop Suey did not reheat well after freezing – the pasta got a little mushy but that Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai I made the other day did, I reheated in a fry pan added fresh peanuts and bean sprouts and a little more sauce mmmmm. Lyn freezes plain spaghetti squash but told me it is a little watery when reheated so I got my pan very hot and stir-fried until reheated this got rid of the excess moisture.
Freezer burn is not a food safety risk. It appears as grayish-brown leathery spots on frozen food, and occurs when air reaches the food’s surface and dries out the product. This can happen any time food is not securely wrapped in air-tight packaging. Color changes result from chemical changes in the food’s pigment. Although undesirable, freezer burn does not make the food unsafe. It merely causes dry spots in foods. Kind of looks like when you defrost in Microwave and some of the edges or thinner parts start to cook, I know you’ve been there.
Save It for Later
Making meals in advance can be as simple as doubling a casserole recipe or tossing an extra meatloaf into the oven.
Before You Freeze
Before freezing hot food, it’s important to let it cool down. Heat will raise the temperature of the freezer; and the food will not freeze uniformly, the outer edges of the hot dish will freeze hard quickly while the inside might not cool in time to prevent spoilage.
There are just a few things to keep in mind:
- Cool precooked dishes as quickly as possible before they are placed in the freezer.
- For fastest cooling, place the pan of hot food in a sink filled with ice water (or in a larger pan of ice water). If you’re cooling a soup, stew, or sauce, stir occasionally to help it cool evenly.
- Once the dish is cooled, portion it into meal-sized containers or packages. Label and date the containers. Place them in a single layer in the coldest area of your freezer until completely frozen. Rearrange as necessary.
Tips for Freezing Foods
Poorly wrapped foods run the risk of developing freezer burn and unpleasant odors from other foods in the freezer. Follow these simple wrapping and container tips to ensure the quality and safety of your food:
- Use only specialty freezer wrappings: they should be both moisture-proof and vapor-proof.
- Leave as little air as possible in the packages and containers. When freezing liquids in containers, allow a small amount of head room for expansion. When using freezer bags, be sure to remove as much air as possible before closing.
- Wrap solids foods like meats and baked goods tightly in foil before you bag them.
- Use rigid containers with an air-tight lid and keep the sealing edge free from moisture or food to ensure proper closure.
- Secure wrapped packages and containers with freezer tape, and write the dish and the date on the tape with a marker.
- In many cases, meats and fish wrapped by the grocer or butcher need no extra attention before freezing. However, meat wrapped on Styrofoam trays with plastic wrap will not hold up well to freezing. If the food you want to freeze was not specially wrapped, then re-wrap them at home.
- Freeze in small containers with no more than a 1-quart capacity to ensure that freezing takes place in a timely manner (i.e., within four hours). Food that is two inches thick will take about two hours to freeze completely.
Thawing Frozen Foods
With the exception of muffins, breads, and other baked goods, do not thaw foods at room temperature. Bacteria can grow in the thawed portion of prepared foods, releasing toxins that are unsafe to eat even after cooking.
To ensure that your food is safe to eat, follow one of these proper ways to thaw:
In the refrigerator: This is the slowest but safest thawing technique. Small frozen items might thaw in a few hours, while larger items will take significantly longer–overnight and then some.
In cold water: Place the frozen food in a leak-proof bag and place in a large container of cold water.
In a microwave on the defrost setting: Plan to cook the food immediately after it has thawed in a microwave, because some areas of the food might have begun cooking during the defrost cycle.
Best if Used By:
Although freezing keeps food safe for an indefinite amount of time, eventually the flavor will be affected. If the food is obviously damaged (shriveled, with white or frosty spots) it should be discarded.
This chart lists recommended storage times for popular precooked foods–casseroles, soups, lasagna–to ensure high-quality results:
Type of Food
Tomato/vegetable sauces – 6 months
Meatloaf (any type of meat) – 6 months
Soups and stews – 2-3 months
Poultry and Meat Casseroles – 6 months
Poultry (cooked, no gravy) – 3 months
Poultry (with gravy/sauce) – 5-6 months
Meatballs in sauce – 6 months
Pizza dough (raw, homemade) – 3-4 weeks
Muffins/quick breads (baked) 2-3 months
Don’t Crowd the Freezer
A temperature of 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) is best for maintaining food quality. Proper air circulation is key to keeping your freezer operating at maximum efficiency.
Freezing does not kill bacteria, yeast and molds that might be in your foods–it merely holds them at bay by keeping them inactive. If the freezer’s temperature is disturbed often or altered for an extended period of time (such as a door left ajar or power outages) these microbes can compromise your food’s safety.
I picked the first of what I hope of dozens of cherry tomatoes yesterday. I have one plant in a container on the deck and two other grape varieties in the bed. I am hoping there is not a repeat of the chipmunk and ground-hog war that we suffered last year there don’t seem to be as many this year. Famous last words. Anyway I love this fruit and when they first start to ripen they very seldom make it into the house Pop Pop oh what a treat they are.
Here it is, isn’t she a beauty? This one made it in to the house but did not last long, I blinded it with the camera flash grabbed it and popped. Oh that what Lyn I blinded not the tomato.
Growing Trouble-Free Cherry Tomatoes
KitchenGardener Magazine, archive
Cherry tomatoes are easy-going fruits, which, if grown right, will yield basket after basket of flavorful harvests. They are less prone to many of the problems that plague larger-fruited varieties and they often produce fruit early.
My 96-year-old grandmother, Jinx, when asked the secret to her longevity, advises: “Never say can’t, try everything once, and make one new friend each year.” She should add growing cherry tomatoes to her litany. Other than walking the dog or taking a language class, I’ve found that the best way to increase my circle of friends is to grow cherry tomatoes. When they start ripening in late July, I place small baskets of these multicolored sweets around the office. Without fail, people I’ve never met before approach me to say how much they enjoyed a particular variety, and I invite them to visit my garden for more.
Wild cherry tomatoes are the grandmothers of most tomato varieties we enjoy today. Native to the South American Andes, they traveled north through Central America to Mexico, where they were domesticated and cultivated before the arrival of Columbus. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors returned from Mexico with the seeds of small-fruited tomatoes, as well as those of larger, irregularly lobed cultivars.
According to Andrew F. Smith, author of The Tomato in America, many European varieties were derived from crosses between these different forms. A related species, the tiny-fruited currant tomato (Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium) is native to the western coastal areas of Peru and Ecuador, where it grows as a sprawling weed.
Because of its resistance to diseases like fusarium and bacterial wilt, as well as its habit of producing fruit in long trusses, the currant tomato has been crossbred with other tomatoes, producing many modern cherry tomato varieties.
Chose varieties for your region
At a market garden I worked for in Germany, we would sprinkle a few gold tomatoes in each box of Sweet 100s, just to highlight their glowing red color. Imagine what you could do with today’s array of cherry tomato colors and shapes…. Read more
We were at Wholefoods today to pick up some yogurt and bone in chicken split breasts on sale, needless to say the two bags I brought in with us were not enough, we have to stop walking the isles. Hey, just trying to get our steps in! I’m all for the 10,000 steps a day diet check it out. There are arguments for bone in and bone out I recently went back to bone in and found that it cooks juicier and with more flavor. You may disagree but that is just how I feel this week. Anyway we picked up about 8 lbs., hit the food saver on our return and I decided to leave a couple out. I made a quick brine of kosher salt and a little raw sugar let the chicken in sit in it for about 1 hour in the frig.
I had seen these FLAVORWOOD smoke in a can things asked Lyn the next time she is on Amazon to pick up some. She gets free shipping cause she shops so much. After paper towel drying I let sit covered to get closer to room temp. Once the grill heated up that little can was smoking up a storm there is this little hole on the top and the smoke comes billowing out. Either oil the grates or chicken and put skin down over hot fire for about 2-3 minutes until the skin starts to slight brown and bubble, oil the other side and flip for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off on one side of grill spread the chicken with Rufus Teague BBQ sauce about 1/3 cup,
cook 15-25 minutes cover both side with another 1/3 cup and continue to cook skin side up on the cold side of grill. Cook until it reaches about 160 degree, remove from grill cover loosely for about 10 minutes. While this was resting I grilled some fresh asparagus. Did you know that asparagus are better for you when eaten raw? Try it they are good, I julienned and used in coleslaw and in my minced chicken lettuce wraps.
So we both like this meal hence it goes up on the site. Plus the bones gave me something to suck the last of the sauce off of, the cashier today said that the sauce was awesome and she was right.
- Healthy Eating: Chicken barbecue doesn’t have to be bad for you (triblive.com)
- BBQ chicken (pmetro.wordpress.com)
- BBQ Chicken (recipekingnw.wordpress.com)
- Raspberry BBQ sauce Stevesacooking.com
- Root beer BBQ sauce Stevesacooking.com
Another Lyn free meal that she found on Pinterest. We love spaghetti squash there is just so much you can do with it. It is wicked easy to prepare then you just get inventive. This recipe is adapted from Dr. Mark Hyman site. Just a few additions and some substitutions and there we had it, one of my favorite meals but no noodles
In this classic Thai dish you can maximize your nutrition by trading carbohydrate-rich rice noodles for low-glycemic and vitamin-A- rich spaghetti squash. You’ll find Thai fish sauce in your local Asian or natural food market, or in the international aisle of most large supermarkets.
1 Large spaghetti squash halved and seeded
1/4 Cup peanut oil – I substituted with Canola oil normally I would have used peanut but my cupboards were bare.
1 Tablespoon thai fish sauce . I can’t get past the smell of fish sauce so I used Hoisin sauce instead.
2 Teaspoons reduced-sodium, gluten-free tamari sauce – used low sodium Soy sauce
1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Large egg beaten
2 Cloves garlic minced
4 Ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts roughly chopped
1 Pinch sea salt
4 Ounces raw shrimp peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped – did not have the shrimp so doubled up on chicken
2 Large carrots peeled and shredded
2 Cups mung bean sprouts – or any bean sprouts you have on hand.
6 scallions finely chopped
1 lime halved
1/4 Cup roasted peanuts chopped, for garnish – I also added the zest of one lime to the peanuts
Preheat the oven to 400°F
Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Place the squash, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and roast for 30–40 minutes. The squash is cooked when a knife easily pierces through the skin and flesh. Let cool, use a fork to shred the flesh into spaghetti-like strands, and set aside.
In a small bowl stir together the fish or hoisin sauce, tamari, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large wok or large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the egg and cook until scrambled, 30–60 seconds, breaking it up. Transfer to a plate and reserve
Pour another tablespoon of the oil into the wok and stir-fry the garlic until aromatic. Season the chicken with a little salt and add it to the pan. Stir-fry the chicken until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Push the chicken to the side and add the shrimp in the center of the pan. Stir frequently until the shrimp are pink and firm, about 3 minutes
Toss in the carrots and stir-fry them for 1 minute. Transfer the contents of the pan to a platter.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the wok, spread the squash strands out in the pan, and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Flip the pile of strands over and brown them for 2 minutes on the other side.
Pour the sauce into the wok and add the chicken-shrimp mixture, egg, bean sprouts, and scallions. Gently toss to heat through, and squeeze the juice of one lime half over all. Garnish with the peanuts and serve with the other half lime available for table-side squeezing. Any leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
The spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) (also called vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, spaghetti marrow, and squaghetti) is an oblong seed-bearing variety of winter squash. The fruit can range either from ivory to yellow or orange in color. The orange varieties have a higher carotene content. Its center contains many large seeds. Its flesh is bright yellow or orange. When raw, the flesh is solid and similar to other raw squash; when cooked, the flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or strands like spaghetti.
Spaghetti squash contains many nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. It is low in calories, averaging 42 calories per 1-cup (155 grams) serving.
- Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Lime Peanut Sauce (hugsnkitchen.com)
- Spaghetti + Squash – Carbs = Spaghetti squash (madbela.wordpress.com)
- Just tried yummy spaghetti squash! (chatterboxsisters.wordpress.com)
It’s been 2 years since the hurricane came through and took down the big tree at the same time we cleared some of the trees along the side of the house they were beginning to become threatening and we became proactive. There was a small spill water stream beside the house and now that the sun no longer hindered by the trees and wild grape vines can get through a new view of ferns and smaller plants has changed the stream into a river of green. I know these pictures don’t do the view justice but it is in my mind and next year it will be another view as nature takes over.