How does that old curse go? “May you live in interesting times.”
And the times, they are interesting! With the advent of Covid-19, panic buying has emptied the grocery stores of products like toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, eggs, milk….and bread.
Well, here’s a recipe for making your own bread. It’s pretty easy, even for inexperienced bakers. And since many of us are on furlough from work, why not use that extra time by getting creative in the kitchen?
HOME-MADE FLATBREAD (Makes 6)
2 cups flour
1-1 1/4 cup of lukewarm water
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon oil/butter/shortening
Mix dry ingredients together and add 1 cup water. Mix.
Add additional water until it has the consistency of tacky pizza dough.
Knead for five minutes.
Let rest in covered greased bowl for 30-60 minutes.
Divide into six pieces and roll out on floured surface thin (tortilla thickness).
Heat griddle to 350F.
Cook until golden brown spots appear (1-2 minutes). Flip and cook for a couple more minutes.
The flatbread can be frozen for later use. It can be used as an accompaniment for soup or stew. It is also delicious spread with mashed pinto/black beans, shredded cheese, and salsa.
Bone broth is a nutritious product made by simmering poultry or beef bones for several hours, either in a slow cooker or on a conventional stovetop burner. Because so much of the nutrient in the bones and meat leeches out into the cooking liquid, bone broth contains significantly more protein than regular soup broth.
For those of us who do not have a lot of time to cook, many markets now offer both chicken and beef bone broth. I decided to try out a recipe using Trader Joe’s Chicken Bone broth, along with other prepared foods that can be stored indefinitely and used as needed. I should note that the Trader Joe’s bone broth contains 10 grams of protein per one cup serving.
This meal takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook.
MINESTRONE SOUP (4-6 servings)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 of a sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
1 tablespoon jarred minced garlic
1 teaspoon powdered oregano
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 pint carton of Trader Joe’s Organic Chicken Bone Broth
1 15 oz. can drained cannelli beans
1 1/2 cups frozen Italian-style vegetables (I used the Signature brand Tuscan vegetables, found at Albertson’s)
1 tablespoon dried celery flakes
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan.
Add the onions and saute for 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and oregano and saute for 1 minute more.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for one minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
SMOKED SAUSAGE AND TORTELLINI SKILLET (6 servings)
1 package Hillshire Farm Smoked Turkey Sausage, diagonally cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, 1/2 inch diced
1 package Fresh Cheese Tortellini, cooked according to package directions
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 jar marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a large 12-inch oven-safe skillet* over medium-high heat and add smoked sausage, cook until brown. Add garlic, onion and bell pepper. Lower heat to medium and stir until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in cooked tortellini, oregano, marinara sauce and one cup of cheese. Top with remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.
*If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, you can cook the sausage, garlic, onion and bell pepper on top of the stove, then pour all ingredients into a greased 9″x9″ inch casserole dish and bake per instructions.
My husband made this dish last week, and it was just delicious! I vacuum-bagged individual left-over portions and froze them. Although the pasta can be microwaved, my own preference is to reheat using my Hot Logic thermal mini bag. (See https://myhotlogic.com for further information about this amazing device.) I placed the frozen pasta and a vegetable side dish into the thermal bag and plugged it in. In two hours, the food was hot and ready to eat.
As mentioned in a previous article, January is National Soup Day. Therefore, I’m posting one last soup recipe: Chicken Pumpkin Soup. This is a reprint from 2018, but the dish is so tasty I think it’s worth another look.
CHICKEN PUMPKIN SOUP (2-3 servings)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
1 pound cubed uncooked skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes. *
1 cup (3 stalks) chopped celery, chopped
1/2 cup medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 15 ounce can of solid packed pumpkin
1 15 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream, warmed to room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Juice of one lemon
1. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil.
2.Add the next five ingredients and saute for five minutes.
3.Add everything else, except for the lemon juice, and mix well.
4.Heat until the mixture is bubbling. Lower to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
This dish is good with cornbread. It reheats well using the heating devices I have previously mentioned. (See “Equipment and Gadgets” under “Menu” section.)
*You can also use cubed pre-cooked chicken or turkey. Do not saute as in Step 2. Instead, add the meat at Step 4.
I recently discovered that January is unofficially National Soup Month. How appropriate that practically all my posts this month have concerned soup! And today won’t be any different, as I’ll be offering a whole-wheat ramen soup recipe.
I grew up eating Top Ramen soups for lunch, dinner, and snacks. It’s really tasty stuff, and economical too. Unfortunately, the product does not offer much in terms of protein or fiber.
So I was delighted to find a protein-rich ramen product at my local World Wide Market (also known as Cost Plus).
The whole-wheat product you see here contains 9 grams of protein per 3.5 oz. serving. In addition, it contains 3 grams of fiber. The company also makes organic udon (thick noodles) and soma (very thin noodles used in cold Asian-style salad).
Here’s what I made with the ramen:
ORGANIC RAMEN SOUP (1-2 servings)
One 15 oz. can chicken broth (I used chicken bone broth, which provides additional protein)
One bunch baby bok choy, chopped
One bunch green onion, chopped
3.5 oz. Hakubaku Organic Ramen *
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
Soy sauce to taste
Two hard boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
1.Place broth and vegetables in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Add ramen. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 4 minutes.
3.Add sesame oil, and soy sauce to taste. Garnish with hard boiled egg.
The noodles are a little chewier than regular ramen, but they taste good. This dish can be placed in frig and re-heated in a microwave or any other devices mentioned on this blog. In addition, it stays hot in a metal thermos.
*Hakubaku Organic Ramen can be purchased at the World Wide Market and on amazon.com. I also noted that it is sold through Whole Foods. If you have trouble obtaining this product, substitute 3.5 oz. Barilla ProteinPLUS Thin Spaghetti, which can be purchased at most supermarkets. Like the ramen, this product is also protein-rich and contains 7 grams of fiber per 3.5 oz. serving. You will need to boil the Barilla pasta for 10 minutes until done. I would suggest bring the spaghetti to a boil and cooking it for 5 minutes. Then add the vegetables, bring to a boil again, and cook for 5 more minutes.
I recently went to Walmart in search of a healthy salad to offset the fatty holiday fare I’d eaten. But it was a cold day, and none of the selections looked especially inviting to me. Suddenly, I got a bright idea……
CABBAGE AND KALE SALAD SOUP (3-4 servings)
2 tablespoons butter
1 bag of Walmart’s Market Side Sunflower Bacon Crunch Salad (only use the vegetables, which include green cabbage, romaine lettuce, kale, red cabbage, carrots, green onions)
1 medium sweet videlia onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh dill, minced
2 tablespoons dried celery flakes
2 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1.Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the vege’s from the salad bag and the chopped onion. Do NOT add the salad dressing, bacon crumbles, or sunflower seeds!
2.Saute the vege mix and onion for about 5 minutes.
3.Place the vege’s and onion in a crockpot. Add dill, celery flakes, salt, bay leaf, and water.
4.Cover and cook on High for 3 hours.
5.Remove the bay leaf. Puree the mixture using a food processor or hand immersion blender.*
The butter gave my soup a rich flavor. I added a little extra salt, but you might not want to do so. This soup freezes well and can be heated at work using a microwave or one of the portable devices I have previously recommended. (Check out the “Menu” for this blog and look under “Equipment and Gadgets.”)
*Several months ago, I purchased a Cuisinart immersible hand blender from amazon.com. It cost about $50, and was worth the money. The device has a detachable blade and is much easier to clean than the traditional blender or food processor. You just stick the blade end into the cooking vessel, push the button, and the device does its work within a minute. I will be demonstrating the usefulness of the blender in future articles.
During the last several decades, cottage cheese took a backseat to the exotic yogurt products that sprang up in supermarket dairy sections. A pity. Cottage cheese is tasty, full of protein and calcium, and it takes absolutely no time to prepare.
Instead of just plopping a scoop of cottage cheese in a bowl, try adding flavor and texture using this recipe, created by my husband, Peter.
COTTAGE CHEESE SALAD (1 serving)
One cup cottage cheese
One medium vine-ripe tomato, sliced
One tablespoon bottled balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon chopped green onions
One tablespoon packaged bacon bits (found in the bottled dressing section)
1.Slice tomato and place in a plastic lunchpail container. Drizzle with one and a half teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
2.Place the cottage cheese on top of the tomato. Drizzle the rest of the balsamic vinegar over the cottage cheese.
3.Sprinkle with green onions and bacon bits. (For vegetarians, substitute one tablespoon low-fat feta cheese for the bacon bits.)
4.Cover container and place in frig overnight for a tasty brown bag lunch!
This salad works as a main or side dish. Delicious with crackers. Great on a hot day when you don’t feel like cooking. In addition to tomatoes, try adding canned asparagus and/or drained canned kidney beans for more color and flavor.
Chicken adobo, a classic Filipino dish, consists of chicken simmered in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. It is easy to make and reheats well. Perfect for a brown bag lunch, along with a salad. If you do not have a microwave at your workplace, please check the menu on this blog and look up the “Equipment and Gadgets” category. There you will find descriptions of portable heating devices. I would recommend both the Crockpot Lunch Warmer and Hotlogic thermal bag for reheating this dish.
Here’s a recipe that I tried just yesterday. It turned out great!
CHICKEN ADOBO (6 servings)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
6 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
1.Place the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves in a large saute pan. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, into the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and then cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
2.Uncover the pan, and then increase the heat to high and return the sauce to a boil. While occasionally turning and basting the chicken, continue boiling the sauce, uncovered, until it is reduced by half and thickens slightly, 5-7 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice.
The site from which I obtained this recipe indicates 332 calories per serving. (Not counting the rice.)
For those of you who have access to a Trader Joe’s, here’s a nutritious and delicious item that you only have to assemble to enjoy. You will find the ingredients in the produce and cheese section of the store. The dish is great as a vegetarian entrée, or as a side dish for a meat entrée. It’s ideal as a brown bag item.
I should mention that I obtained this recipe from Celine Cossou-Bordes’ excellent book, “Cooking with Trader Joe’s.” (I have substituted low-fat feta for her recommended full-fat goat cheese. Also, bottled vinaigrette to save prep time.) You can buy Coussou-Bordes’ book on amazon.com.
LENTIL & BEET SALAD (4 Servings)
One pkg TJ’s refrigerated Steamed Lentils
6 pearl tomatoes, cut in wedges
One pkg TJ’S refrigerated Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets
6 oz. low-fat feta cheese, crumbles
3 oz. bottled vinaigrette dressing
Place lentils in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beets.
Pour vinaigrette over lentil mixture, stir to combine, then sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
It’s mid-August in California, and the temperature has been pretty high. So my appetite runs towards something cool and a little salty. How about some home-made onigiri?
According to Wikipedia, Onigiri (or omusabi) is a rice ball made from white rice which is formed into a triangular or cylindrical shape. It can be filled with pickled plum, salmon, tuna salad, or any other salty or sour ingredient. The dish is eaten at room temperature or cooled. It is ideal as a brown bag side dish.
Onigiri is usually made with top-grade sushi rice. (Please see my post titled, “Let’s Here It For Haiga,” dated March 13, 2019.) However, in this blog I will share a recipe using Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice, which can be microwaved. It makes the process much easier for those who don’t have much prep time. You can find Annie Chun rice in the Asian section of your grocery store. You might even find it in the rice/grain/bean section. I bought my last batch at Sprouts Market.
Please see the nutritional data for the sprouted rice below. The product is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and contains more protein and fiber than most sushi rice.
I’m going to deviate somewhat from the classic ingredients for this dish in that I will add rice wine vinegar instead of salt. I just think it tastes better.
Place cooked rice in a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Add vinegar and furikake.
Fill two 5.8 cent. x 3.5 cent. rice molds with the rice. Make sure you really pack the rice in. But don’t put so much in that you can’t seal the molds. You will probably have a little rice leftover.
Place sealed molds in refrigerator. *
Serve with soy sauce or soy sauce mixed with wasabi. (You can get tubes of wasabi from the Asian section of your local supermarket. I got mine at Sprouts.)
*It is recommended that you consume the rice balls no later than the day after you have made them. Otherwise, the rice will dry out. Also, do not remove the rice balls from the molds until you are ready to eat them. The molds will retain moisture and texture for better mouth feel.
This side dish is good with cold teriyaki chicken, cold teriyaki salmon, or cold breaded chicken fingers. Make sure to pack some of that soy/wasabi sauce!
“Onigiri” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 August 2019. Web. 24 August 2019.