Simple advice for a better life.

Birthday Party AppetizersWhether you are cooking at home, dining out, or ordering take out, there are almost always some leftovers to deal with after the fact.

There is nothing wrong with having leftovers.   After all, you spent time and money on this food, so you deserve to enjoy it to the last morsel.

Some prepared dishes are not suitable for later use as a leftover…they lose their taste and texture, so it is best to just part with them right there and then.

Numerous others, on the other hand, are still great for at least one or two meals, or even to be frozen for that rainy day when you have no time or desire to cook.

Some people do not like leftovers, and never keep them.  However, if you are like me, you don’t mind them, and feel that you get your money’s worth if you use them.

Most Europeans don’t believe in leftovers….maybe because they hardly ever have any.

They serve their meals already preportioned per plate, and make just enough to feed the crowd they accounted for.  The portions are large enough to satisfy the consumer, so there is no need, or room, for seconds.  Therefore, there are no leftovers.  Any remaining food on each plate, which hardly ever happens, is discarded.  It is almost impolite to ask for a “Doggie Bag”.

Here in the USA we have no problem asking the waiter/waitress to pack up our leftovers to take home with us.

It is very important to keep track of your leftover food in your fridge, which is one of my pet peeves.  I almost feel like I am a fridge police, whether it is at home or at work.

There is nothing worse than seeing “old” food sitting in the fridge way past its safe consumable time.

My personal time line for using up leftovers in up to 3 days…4 being the absolute max.

Now I will share my best way of using up leftovers, and keeping your fridge fresh, and ready for restocking.

Since most of us work full-time, and don’t have much time for cooking during the week, we prepare extra food on weekend, to hold us over for couple of days.  Then by mid-week, it’s time for some take out.  By Thursday we have leftovers to use, or lose.

I consider Thursday  a “Leftover Smorgasbord Dinner Day”.  We pull out all the leftovers from the past few days, and add something new if needed, and call it a day.

Everyone is to create their own plate of food from the smorgasbord spread available.  We also use disposable dishes and utensils that day, to save time on clean up effort.  Whatever food is remaining after this dinner, gets discarded for good.

This is the BEST way to free your fridge of leftover food, and to prevent any food from hiding in there for too long.

Since we have no dishes to wash on this day, we devote our time to cleaning up the fridge, and getting it ready for fresh food from Friday or Saturday shopping.

It works very well every time, and it also is fun, economical, and stress free.

I suggest you try it too, and share your comments.

Have fun!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Roasted turkey ready to servePumpkin-RollOrange-Apple-Cranberry sauce 2

It is time again to give thanks for all our blessings, and to spend time together with family and friends.

Thanksgiving holiday this year will be low key at my house, since all my children and their families, will be spending it with their in-laws.

I am counting my blessings, because we will be all together for Christmas!

Today I will not be posting any new recipes, but will provide links to my previous posts, for your convenience.

Roasted turkey ready to serve

Here is my favorite turkey roasting recipe.

stuffing ready to serve 2

Stuffing with Italian Sausage and herbs.

Orange-Apple-Cranberry sauce 2

Homemade Apple Orange Cranberry Sauce recipe.

Sweet Potatoes casserole - ready to serve

Sweet Potato Casserole.

I did not post a recipe, since it was a very simple process of cooking sweet potatoes, mashing them with a seasoning of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Then, placing the mashed potatoes in a greased casserole dish, covering them with a layer of miniature marshmallows, and placing them under broiler just long enough to form a golden crust.

Need to watch them carefully, since the marshmallows can burn VERY quickly!!

Pumpkin-Roll

Since I am not a big fan of Pumpkin Pie, I bake Pumpkin Roll as one of my Thanksgiving desserts.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DAY TO YOU ALL!!!

Standing Prime Rib Roast  - just roasted in a dutch ovenStanding Prime Rib Roast  -  just roastedStanding Prime Rib Roast  - sliced for serving

Prime Rib is one of my favorite “special occasion” dinner meats, because it is so flavorful, even with very little additional seasoning.

Prime Rib tends to be a little pricey, so I only make it once I find a nice piece reasonably priced.  You want to buy a piece with at least 3 ribs (6-9 lbs), which will generously serve 5 – 8 people.

Today I will share my Prime Rib roasting experience with you.

You will be quite surprised how simple it is to prepare, and how impressive and tasty is the outcome.

My dutch oven was a great vessel to roast it in, but any heavy pan will do.

Ingredients:

  • 7 lbs of Standing Prime Rib Roast (3 ribs)
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Black Pepper, ground
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Tbs. Kosher Salt (optional
  • 1 Onion, peeled and quartered
  • 10 Peppercorns
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 twigs of Rosemary (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove the meat from packaging, and rinse off, or wipe it down with damp paper towel (I always like to rinse my meat before cooking….just because…).
  2. Place the meat on a platter, on the counter, and leave it out for 2 hours uncovered,  (to get it to room temperature, and for the outside surface to dry up a little).
  3. Place the meat in a roasting pan, ribs down and fat side up (I used my Dutch Oven).
  4. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
  5. Using a basting brush, baste the olive oil all over the top and sides of the meat.
  6. In a small dish prepare the meat rub, by mixing together the Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Paprika, Black Pepper, Italian Seasoning and Kosher Salt (see TIP below).
  7. Spread the meat rub all over the oiled meat.
  8. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns (and Rosemary is using).
  9. Do not cover the pan.
  10. Roast the meat in a preheated over for 3-4 hours, basting from time to time.
  11. It is very important to have a good quality meat thermometer, to check the temperature of the inner part of the meat, to reach 125-130 degrees F.  Start checking the temperature periodically after 2.5 hours of cooking.
  12. If you like to have your meat medium done, remove it from the oven once the meat reaches 125 degree F, cover loosely with aluminium foil, and let it rest for at least 20 minutes or even an hour, at room temperature.  The resting period is very important, to keep the juices in the meat, making it very tender.
  13. Before serving, remove the aluminum foil, and cut off the ball of the meat away from the ribs, running the knife along the side of the ribs and meat.  Wrap the ribs and refrigerate for future use, to prepare Prime Rib soup stock.
  14. Slice the meat against the grain, into serving slices (thin or thick…your preference).
  15. Serve with your favorite gravy, incorporating the juices remaining in you roasting pan.
  16. My favorite is Au Jus  gravy , served with Prime Rib.

 

Enjoy!

 

TIP:  Some cooks prefer to omit the salt, because they feel it draws the juices out of the meat during cooking, but I like to flavor my meat with salt.  If you prefer to have a crusty top on your meat, you can first roast it at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then lower it to 275 degrees until done to your preference.   I prefer the meat being tender evenly throughout, hence cook it at the lower temperature from start to finish.

During the last hour of  roasting time, you can bake some russet potatoes in the oven, to serve with the roast.

 

Potatoes  Au-GratinI have been testing several different recipes in my Nuwave oven, and will be sharing some of them with you.

Today I will post a recipe for a vegetable dish, Potatoes Au-Gratin, which was very simple to prepare, and it turned out to be a delicious side dish.

This recipe was posted in the cook book enclosed with the Nuwave oven shipment, so I will post it for your convenience, in case you have not decided yet to add this kitchen gadget to your collection.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups small red potatoes, washed, and sliced very thinly
  • 1/2 cup red or white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (whipping cream)
  • 3 Tbs. Parsley, chopped (0r 1 Tbs. dried parsley flakes)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and slice the potatoes, and place them in the bowl.
  2. Add chopped onion, butter, cheese, cream and spices.
  3. Mix to coat the potatoes evenly.
  4. Scoop into a 10 inch baking dish, gently pressing them down into the pan.
  5. Place on 1 inch rack, and cook on HI power level, for 20 minutes.
  6. Let it rest for 2 minutes with dome lid on.
  7. Serve hot, as a side dish with your favorite meat.

Enjoy!

Antipasto SquaresMy family and friends often share recipes of their newest creations, since they know that I absolutely love trying these out as well.

Today I will share  a recipe for Antipasto Squares , recommended by a friend.

It is a very simple dish to prepare, and quite tasty, but I would not consider it light in calories.

Antipasto Squares make an interesting addition to a brunch menu, or as a Super Bowl party appetizer.

The original recipe calls for Salami and Olives, but since I do not like either of these ingredients, I added green peppers and tomatoes instead.  These ingredients can easily be substituted with your other favorite meats, cheeses and vegetables, or even make it a vegetarian dish.

My version of this recipe is posted below, for you to try out, and please share your comments.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Crescent Rolls ready-made crust
  • 1/4 lb. boiled ham
  • 1/4 lb. Provolone Cheese, sliced
  • 1/4 lb. Pepperoni, sliced
  • 1/4 lb. Swiss Cheese, sliced
  • 1 large Red Pepper, roasted (I used 1 jar of Pimento, sliced to strips)
  • 1 large Green Pepper, roasted, cut to strips
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced
  • 5 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Basil Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, ground
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • Pam cooking spray, or Crisco shortening, to grease the pan

Directions:

  1. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with Pam cooking spray, or Crisco shortening, and set aside.
  2. Open one package of Crescent Rolls dough, and unroll onto the bottom of the greased pan.  Pinch dough together at perforations, to form a solid bottom layer.
  3. Layer ham evenly over the dough.
  4. Place Provolone cheese slices over ham.
  5. Layer Pepperoni over the Provolone cheese.
  6. Place Swiss cheese slices over Pepperoni.
  7. Top off with Red and Green Pepper strips.
  8. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning, Basil and Onion powder.
  9. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. of Parmesan grated cheese.
  10. Spread sliced tomatoes, then sprinkle with ground Black Pepper and Garlic Powder.
  11. Pour beaten eggs over the top of the casserole.
  12. Top off with 3 Tbs. Parmesan grated cheese.
  13. Cover with second sheet of Crescent Rolls dough (no need to pinch dough at perforations, to help the steam to escape during cooking)
  14. Cover with aluminium foil.
  15. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  F, and bake 25 minutes.
  16. Uncover, and bake 13 minutes longer, until the middle is set, and top is lightly browned,
  17. Cool to room temperature before serving.
  18. Also suitable to store in a refrigerator for a day or so, or wrap it well and freeze it for a later use.
  19. To reheat, use regular oven, toaster oven, or even a microwave.

Enjoy!

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