Grilled Egg Salad and Cream Cheese

Grilled Egg Salad with Cream Cheese

I love a grilled sandwich, especially on rye bread. Rye bread has such a rich, nutty taste and grilling only enhances that unique rye flavor. I buttered two slices of rye bread. I spread the butter as thinly as possible. I laid the two pieces of bread on a medium high griddle and toasted them on one side. While it the first side was toasting, I buttered the other side of the slices. I flipped them over when the first side was crisped and then grilled the other so they were both nice and crispy. I could have toasted the bread, but it would not have the same nutty flavor that gets brought out by grilling buttered bread.

Grilled egg salad

To make this sandwich filling, I chopped and mixed up 1 TBSP each of yellow onions, celery, red pepper, cucumber, 1/2 tsp of mustard, salt, pepper and just enough cream cheese to hold them together in a spread (about 1.5 TBSPs. This made a thick, creamy spread. I also sliced up two hard-boiled eggs. When the bread was grilled, I laid it on a plate, spread the cream cheese and veggies on one slice and laid some romaine and sliced hard boiled eggs on the other with a dash of salt and pepper.

To make good hard boiled eggs, put them in a cooking pot with about 1 inch of water over them. Bring them to a boil and remove from the heat, putting a lid on top to hold in the steam. Let them rest 6 to 11 minutes depending on how much you want them done. I like mine well done.

The crunchy bread and crispy celery with the creamy sauce, tender cucumber and eggs all mixed together in a wonderful blend of flavors and textures. Makes one serving.

 

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts

 

This was a simple sauté made to go with a small pork loin chop. I put a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan and heated to medium. I then added just a pinch of anise seed and let it heat until the perfume filled the air. I added 1/2 of a small leek, sliced thinly and chopped in half. I sliced 2 mushrooms, 1/2 a jalapeño and 1/4 of a red pepper and also added them. Lastly I added about 6 brussels sprouts sliced and chopped. I stirred the veggies together and when it was nearly done squeezed half a lemon on top. I served with a 2 oz piece of pork loin fried in another pan.  The veggie sauté  would work well with anything or on its own for a vegan meal.

This made one serving. It’s very flavorful with heat from the chili pepper, sweetness from the red pepper, umami from the mushrooms and tang from the lemon. The anise seed give it a rich aromatic flavor and the brussels sprouts add their hearty magic. If you don’t have leeks, just use onions.

 

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

I made the rice ahead using 1 cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water with a dash of salt. I rinsed the rice, added it to the water and brought it to a rolling boil in a solid saucepan. As soon as it hit a rolling boil, I put a lid on it and removed it from the heat. 20 minutes later it was done to perfection.

I put some peanut oil in a saute pan (I don’t have a wok.) and set it on medium heat. I added 2 TBSP of yellow onion, 2 minced cloves of garlic and about 1.5 inches of fresh garlic, minced. Next I cleaned and minced 1 jalapeño pepper. While they sautéed, I cleaned and sliced 2 mushrooms, 1/2 stalk of celery and 1/4 of a red pepper. I tossed them in. I then chopped a 6 oz piece of boneless pork loin and added that in to cook. I put a lid on the pan for about 2 minutes.

I had a container with about 1 cup or so of fresh pineapple. I added 1/4 cup of white vinegar and let it blend with the pineapple juice. I added 1 tbsp of soy sauce and swirled it around. When the pork was nearly done. I added the pineapple and liquids to the pan and stirred it all together. It took about another minute to warm the pineapple.

I dished up a half cup of rice and put half the sauté pan full of sweet and sour pork on it. This made two large servings.

I don’t like breaded, battered sweet and sour pork and don’t care for the sweet and sour dressing that tastes sort of like ketchup and honey. This is a very light taste of sweetness from the pineapple more than balanced by the sour of the vinegar and soy. There’s plenty of heat from the jalapeño and ginger. The strong flavors balance each other perfectly without dominating.

 

Not a BLT Sandwich

Bacon, Roasted Pepper and Basil sandwich with Wheatberry Salad

So a friend posted this fabulous looking Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich the other day that made me want one so much. However, I only eat tomatoes when they are cooked or in an acidic dressing that breaks down whatever protein in raw tomatoes that I am allergic to, so BLTs are never on the menu. I decided, though, to try to make something that looked like a BLT.

So, for the red, I used a roasted red pepper. Now, if you have a bunch of red peppers, it’s easiest to roast them in the oven. But for just one, or in this case, just one slice of red pepper, it’s easier to roast it using your stove top burners. And yes, you can do it with an electric burner. Think of it as a game show and the smoke alarm is the buzzer, you want to turn your exhaust up on high. Using tongs, place the pepper directly on the burner turned up to high. It will begin to char and then the trick is to turn before it bursts into flame – kind of like roasting marshmallows. If it does burst into flame, just pull it off the burner and blow it out. It’s a good idea to remove any towels or paper towels from the counter by the stove before cooking the peppers just in case you are are easily startled and drop the pepper on the counter. If you keep a keen eye on the roasting, though, it won’t flame up, but even if it does, it’s simple to blow it out. The trick is to simply be calm, this is easier than roasting marshmallows since there’s no gummy, drippy stuff to drip onto the burner. Let it cool and peel the charred outer skin off. It should remove easily.

Then I cut three pieces of bacon in half. Two might have been enough, but I was making a generous sandwich. I put them in an iron skillet on med high to fry. Meanwhile, I cut a ciabatta bun in half and toasted it.

I took 1 small clove of garlic and minced it and stirred it into some mayo to spread on the bun. I washed and dried some fresh basil leaves and spread them on one side of the bun and placed the roasted red pepper on the other. I let the finished bacon drip dry on some paper towel and placed it on the bun.

I served with the wheatberry salad I like to make. I used a small bowl for the salad because I hate when salad dressing seeps over onto my bun.

Okay, this sandwich is dangerously delicious. Basil and garlic mayonnaise? Roasted red pepper? Honestly, it almost does not need the bacon! Almost!

Hearty Chicken Soup

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In a stock pot, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil and add

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

and saute until tender. Then add

  • 5 stems of fresh thyme
  • 3 dried bay leaves

Stir and add

  • Whole chicken, washed and any pieces inserted removed and tossed in separately
  • 2 quarters of water
  • Salt and pepper

Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for one hour until chicken is falling off the bone. Put a colander inside another bowl and removed the chicken into the colander to drain and cool.  Meanwhile, to the broth add:

  • 5 red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 pound small button mushrooms
  • 2 Carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

Simmer until fork tender. Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bone once it has cooled. Store the white meat in a container for use in salads and sandwiches. The liver, heart and kidneys can be pureed with 2 TBSP of broth for a tasty treat for your cat. Add the dark meat back into the soup, add salt and pepper to taste and it’s ready to serve.  This makes about 12 servings of soup, 1 serving of cat food and the reserved meat can make anywhere from 5 to 10 lunches.

It has a fabulous hearty flavor and the fresh thyme works the sort of magic that fresh thyme always conjures.

Chicken & Pear Salad

Chicken & Pear Salad

I chopped up 5 almonds and put them on a dry skillet to toast.

Into a large salad bowl, I added the following ingredients:

  • 4 leaves from a head of butter lettuce, washed and tore into medium size pieces.
  • Thinly sliced pieces of cucumber off one end of a cuke, about 1.5 inches of slices.
  • 2 TBSP of diced red pepper.
  • 1/4 of Anjou pear, cut one into pieces.
  • 2 oz of cold chicken, sliced.
  • 3 leaves of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 oz of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 TBSP or so of dried cranberries

I mixed  together and squeezed a bit of fresh lemon on top, added 1 tsp of olived oil, a bit of fresh ground pepper, salt and then tossed the toasted almonds on top.

It’s a fabulous blend of fresh lettuce and cucumber, tart lemon,  cranberries and basil with sweet pear and red pepper, sharp feta, hearty chicken and of course, the high notes of toasted almonds to bring it all home.

Bacon, Beef Tongue and Barley

Bacon, Beef Tongue and Barley

The first thing you have to do is cook the beef tongue. Put the tongue in a pressure cooker, add water until it’s just covered with liquid. Add 1 onion, about 5 cloves, a cinnamon stick, a few cloves of garlic and salt. Cover and pressure cook for 35 minutes. Leave the lid on while it cools, when the pressure has dissipated, you can remove the lid with no pop of steam, but the tongue will still be warm enough that your can remove the outer skin easily without burning yourself. You don’t want to try to remove the skin when it’s cold – it will be far too difficult.

I cooked the barley. I generally use a 4 to 1 ration for barley. I wanted one cup of cooked barley so began with 1/4 cup of dry barley and cooked it in 4 cups of water for about 30 minutes. If you like barley as much as I do, you could make it big batches and keep in the fridge for salads, breakfast barley porridge and for casseroles. It’s far cheaper than rice or pasta and has more toothiness when you eat it and a much nuttier flavor. It’s also more nutritious besides being tastier. Seriously, you can get a bag of barley for a dollar or less – and you can’t beat the flavor.

When the barley was nearly done, I cut up and sauteed a two slices of bacon with a chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, I added 1 chopped red pepper and cubes of the beef tongue (4 ounces). I then added 1 chopped tomato and stirred, cooking until everything was done and served on a bed of barley. This makes two servings, so I set half aside for the next day.

Corn Chickpea Confetti

Corn & Chickpea Confetti Casserole

I drained and washed a small can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and lightly toasted them in a skillet. While it was toasting, I cut up a small onion, 4 oz. of roast beef from a roast I had made a zucchini, a summer squash and a red pepper. When the chickpeas were lightly toasted, I set them aside for a bit in a bowl, while I added a teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and tossed in the onions and let them soften. I then added 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Corn Salsa without Tomatoes and the other vegetables and the beef I had cut up and gently mixed together and continued to let them cook with the lid on until the veggies were cooked tender. I added the chickpeas, stirred together and served. This made 4 servings as it seemed silly to use only a quarter of a can of beans.

You can easily leave the beef out and make this a vegan side dish.

Chicken Wraps & Cheesy Sauteed Zucchini

You can make the chicken salad while the veggies cook. First chop up one clove of garlic and 3 thins slices off a large onion (about 3 TBSP) and soften in 1/2  TBSP of olive oil. Add 3 finely slice mushrooms and cook for a few minutes before adding 1 zucchini sliced fine. When it’s nearly done, add 1/4 of a Roma tomato chopped up, toss in 1 TBSP of dried dill weed and cover. Just before serving sprinkle 1 ounce of shredded or finely sliced cheddar cheese and cover for 30 seconds.

The salad is made with 2 ounces of cooked chicken (reserved from soup I made earlier) and 2 ounces of diced pink lady apples. I added 1/2 of a stalk of celery, 1 TBSP of sweet onion and about 2 tsp’s of diced red pepper and a sprig of cilantro. Then I squeeze 1/2 a lemon on it, some salt and pepper and 1 TBSP of plain yogurt.  I took 3 leaves of romaine and put them on the serving platter and heated them for 15 seconds in the microwave  so they would be flexible enough to be salad wraps, but still have fresh crunchiness in the texture.  I sliced wedges of the remaining apple and served on the side.

 

Cuban Bean Salad

Okay, this is not my recipe and not a single serving. I use the Kraft Cuban Bean Salad recipe and just cut the dressing in half. They make too much dressing and it’s a bit oily with all the olive oil. By cutting the sauce in half, I get a tasty salad that is not overdressed.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup  chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp.  white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1   fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups  chopped Dill Pickles
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 can  (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
  • 1 stalk  celery, sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 2   green onions, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
Mix oil, cilantro, lemon juice, vinegar, cumin, jalapeno pepper and oregano in large bowl until well blended. Add the other ingredients, stir and refrigerate. You can serve in a couple hours, but it gets better and better. Makes about 3 pounds of salad. You can double the beans and still have a tasty salad.