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!

Party-foodsParty-Time-Appetizer-table

 

 

 

 

The hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping is over for most of us (many Ukrainians will still celebrate Christmas on January 6th and 7th), so now it’s time to plan the New Year bash.

Since I will not be hosting  New Year  party this year, and not preparing anything exciting, you may click on the highlighted links to my previous posts with many fun party foods.

Also, I pinned a lot of interesting party foods on my Pinterest board, which you are more that welcome to check out, and test them out.

H A P P Y   N E W  Y E A R!!!

MAY YOU ALL BE BLESSED

WITH GOOD HEALTH,

LOVE,

PEACE,

AND PROSPERITY.

 

Stuffed Dumplings - Turkey stuffing 3These dumplings are almost a complete meal in itself, since you have the potatoes, the meat, plus add your favorite gravy, or a savory tomato sauce, and dinner is ready.

My sister shared a bunch of new recipes with me, so I will also share them with you, as soon as I test them out, and include some pictures to show them off.

These dumplings are very tasty, and the leftovers are great reheated in the microwave.

You may serve them with your favorite gravy, sauteed onions in butter, sauteed bread crumbs in butter, or a savory tomato sauce.

I made my own tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes from my garden.

This recipe yields 32 dumplings, slightly larger in size than a golf ball.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 3 cups mashed potatoes (about 10 medium size potatoes)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Wondra flour
  • 2 Tbs. corn starch
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. Canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Ingredients for the stuffing:

  • 1 lbs. ground meat (I used turkey for this recipe, but chicken, beef or pork may also be used)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp. Sage
  • 1/2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Basil
  • 2 Tbs. Flat Leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 4 Tbs. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions for the stuffing:

  1. Add 1 Tbs. butter to a frying pan, and saute the chopped onions for 2 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute longer, stirring often.
  3. Add the ground meat and continue to saute, until fully cooked, stirring continuously to break it up.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley and sage.
  5. Remove to a medium bowl, and mix well with 1 egg and bread crumbs, to make stuffing.
  6. Set aside to cool, then form into 32 meatballs, about the size of a walnut.

Directions for the dough:

  1. Peel the potatoes, cut in chunks.
  2. Rinse and place in a pot of cold, salted water.
  3. Bring to boil and cook until done (about 20 minutes).
  4. Drain the water, and add 1 Tbs. butter.
  5. Mash well, until smooth, and not lumpy.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Place the mashed potatoes on a floured work area.
  8. Mix the all-purpose flour with the corn starch and Wondra.
  9. Make a well in the middle of the potatoes, and add the flour mixture.
  10. Add 1 egg, one egg yolk, salt and oil.
  11. Mix it all up, to create a soft and satiny dough.
  12. Let the dough rest 5 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  13. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a long rope, about 2 inches in diameter.
  14. Use a sharp knife, and cut the dough rope into 32 slices, about 1/4 inch thick.
  15. Using floured hands, and working on a floured surface, form each slice into a thin circle (less than 1/8 inch thick).
  16. Place one prepared meatball in the middle of the circle and bring edges together to seal, then roll between the palms of your hands to form a ball.
  17. Set aside on a floured surface and repeat the process until all the dough and filling are used up.
  18. Meanwhile, fill a pot with salted water, and bring to boil.
  19. Place several dumplings (no  more than one layer once they float up to the top) into the boiling water, and gently stir with a wooden spoon, or spatula.
  20. Bring to boil again, and once they float to the top, cook for at least 8 minutes.
  21. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl of cold water, and leave them in there for few minutes to cool off. Then pour out into a colander, to drip off.
  22. Repeat the cooking process for the remaining dumplings.

 

Stuffed gnocchi  - with sauteed breadcrumbsStuffed gnocchi  -  with sauteed onions and butter

Stuffed gnocchi  - seved with mushroom sauce

Serve warm with your favorite gravy (mine favorite is mushroom – center picture).  The above serving suggestions also include sautéed bread crumbs in butter, garnished with chopped parsley, or sautéed onions in butter, garnished with chopped dill weed.

 

 

 

Caprese Chicken with Bacon – Recipe

Another wonderful, and simple, chicken recipe to prepare for your family and friends.

One of my co-workers enjoys cooking and sharing recipes, hence this recipe for Caprese Chicken with Bacon.

She found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine.  She was very pleased with the preparation simplicity, taste of the dish, and wonderful presentation, so shared her experience with me ( the word is out that I love trying new recipes….).

I followed the original recipe, but decided to pound the chicken breasts lightly, to make them thinner, and cut them in half to form smaller portions.

I personally prefer to start my meal with smaller food portions on my plate, and have the choice of having a second helping if I choose to do so.

You, however, might decide to keep the chicken breasts whole, to have larger portions.

Ingredients:

  • 8 bacon strips (I cut mine in half after baking)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I pounded mine, and cut each in half, making 8 portions)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (my addition)
  • 1 plum tomatoes sliced (I used large tomatoes)
  • 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced (I used 10)
  • 4 slices fresh Mozzarella cheese (I needed 8 slices – 8 oz ball of fresh mozzarella)
  • Olive oil to brush tops of chicken

Directions:

  1. Place bacon in an ungreased  backing pan 15 x 10 inch (I used glass Pirex casserole dish)
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and bake it for 10 minutes, without turning it over.
  3. Remove bacon from pan and set aside (I used kitchen scissors to cut my bacon strips in half, as I needed more pieces of smaller size).
  4. Place chicken breasts in an ungreased 13 x 9 backing pan (I used the same pan I was baking the bacon in, but used paper towels to wipe off the bacon grease, before placing the chicken in it).  I placed the chicken with the skin side down (the skin was removed of course).
  5. Brush chicken breasts with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  6. Place a slice of tomato on each meat portion, and sprinkle with chopped basil leaves.
  7. Place the bacon, side by side (as I did), or crisscross as they suggested, if you have whole breasts and whole bacon pieces.
  8. Bake it uncovered at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, or until the inner temp of the meat reaches 165 degrees F.
  9. Top each meat piece with slice of fresh mozzarella, and bake for a minute longer to partially melt the cheese.

 

Serve hot.

Enjoy!

 

TIP:  This dish is best served fresh, but leftovers are still good, warmed up in the oven.

 

 

Chicken is known for being one of our healthier meat choices, and there are myriad of ways of preparing it.

I prefer chicken meat over turkey, as you already know from my previous posts, and am always searching for new recipes to try.

A friend shared this recipe, so I am not sure of its origin, but you will LOVE it…it’s so moist on the inside, yet crispy and crunchy on the outside.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large chicken breasts, boneless, cut in half
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups Panco crumbs
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbs. parsley, dried
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Get three medium bowls, and fill one with milk, one with cheddar cheese, and one with Panco crumbs.
  2. Line a baking sheet (I used a glass one 10 x 13 inches) with aluminum foil, and coat it with cooking spray.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Dip each piece of chicken breasts (8 pieces in all) in milk, then pat it on all sides with cheddar cheese, then dip it in Panco crumbs.
  5. Arrange coated chicken breasts in the baking pan.
  6. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and parsley flakes.
  7. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven.
  9. Let it rest in the pan for few minutes before serving.
  10. For best results and crispness, serve it soon after cooking.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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