Home-made Flatbread

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)


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1 1/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil/butter/shortening

Directions:

  • 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.

Cooking with Bone Broth: Minestrone Soup

Minestrone, made with Trader Joe’s Chicken Bone broth

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)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Cooking directions:

  • 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.

Delicious with crispy French bread.

Smoked Sausage and Tortellini

One of the great things about most pasta dishes is that they freeze and reheat well for leftover lunches. With that in mind, here is a delicious dish from the Hillshire Farms website, under https://www.hillshirefarm.com/recipes/dinner/smoked-sausage-and-tortellini-skillet/

SMOKED SAUSAGE AND TORTELLINI SKILLET (6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  • 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.

Smoked Turkey Sausage and Tortellini with a side dish of Trader Joe’s Frozen Rainbow Cauliflower

Chicken Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Chicken Soup

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.

Whole Wheat Ramen Soup

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).

Hakubaku Organic Ramen

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.

Making Soup Out of Salad

Cabbage and Kale Salad Soup

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……

Bagged salad

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.

Cottage Cheese Salad

Cottage cheese salad

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.