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!

Cheese Cloth wrapping step 1

Stuffed cabbage - servings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was chatting with a friend of mine about cooking ….surprise…..surprise…; she was telling me about an interesting dish her family and friends really enjoyed.

She kindly shared her recipe, so I finally had a chance to try it out, and share it with you.

The preparation process might look involved,  but it really isn’t bad.

The finished product looks impressive, especially before the stuffed cabbage head is cut up into serving sections.

Serving piece

 Ingredients:

  • 1 head white cabbage
  • 1.5 lbs. meatloaf mix meat (pork, beef, veal)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded on a large eye grater
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
  • 2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 Tbs. catchup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 sheet of cheese cloth ( easily found at your grocer)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cubes beef bullion
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot 1/2 full with water.
  2. Add 1 Tbs. salt, and bring to boil.
  3. Remove one layer of the outer leaves from the head of cabbage and discard. Trim the end of the core, but do not carve it out.
  4. Place the head of cabbage into the boiling water (core down), and boil for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn the cabbage head with the core up, and boil 15 minutes longer.Cooling the cooked whole cabbage
  6. Remove from heat, and submerge the cabbage in ice water for 15 minutes.
  7. Save the cabbage water for later use.
  8. Gently trim off some of the thick rib of the cabbage, from the core upward, but make sure the leaves remains attached to the core.Cabbage head ready for stuffing
  9. Gently unfold the leaves one by one, and spread them out to the side of the core. Don’t worry if they split slightly; it will be fine once the head is reconstructed.
  10. Repeat this process until you have at least 3-4 layers of leaves.
  11. Cut out the middle portion of the remaining tightly folded leaves (save for later use)
  12. Set the cabbage leaves aside for now.Sauteing veggies for stuffing
  13. Add oil to sauce pan, and heat it on medium heat.
  14. Add the chopped onions, and saute 5 minutes.
  15. Add shredded carrot and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  16. Add chopped garlic, and saute 1 minute longer.Stuffing ingredientsStuffing ready to use
  17. In a large bowl, mix the meatloaf mix with the sauteed onions, salt and pepper, paprika, Italian Seasoning, chopped parsley, egg, water, and catchup.
  18. Mix all to incorporate evenly.
  19. Spread the cheesecloth on a platter, and place the cabbage leaves over it.
    Stuffing step 1
  20. Make a large ball (size of a tennis ball) put of the prepared filling,  and place it in the middle of the spread out cabbage leaves.
  21. Bring up one layer of leaves, and fold over the filling ball, to enclose it.Stuffing step 2-3
  22. Spread a generous amount of filling onto the second layer of leaves.
  23. Fold them up towards the created filling ball, and carefully recreating the head of cabbage.
    Cheese Cloth wrapping step 1
  24. Repeat this process until all the leaves are used up.Cheese Cloth wrapping step 2
  25. Bring up all 4 corners of the cheesecloth, fit snugly around the stuffed cabbage head, and tie it all together at the top of the head.Cooking step 1
  26. Place the ball of cabbage in a medium pot.
  27. Mix 5 cups of cabbage water with beef bullion.
  28. Mix in 1/2 of the tomato paste.
  29. Pour over the tied cabbage head.
  30. Add bay leaves, and more water if necessary, so at least 2/3 of the cabbage ball is submerged.
    Cooking step 2
  31. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
  32. Remove cabbage head from the pot, and set on a serving platter.  Remove and discard the cheesecloth.
    Cooking step 3Cooking step 4
  33. Carefully place the cabbage head in an oven proof casserole dish, and set aside.
  34. Heat the remaining liquid in the pot, and cook to reduce to about 2 cups.
  35. Mix flour with a small amount of cabbage liquid, to form a smooth paste.
  36. Mix in  heavy cream, and remaining 1/2 of tomato paste.
  37. Pour this mixture into the cabbage water.
  38. Bring to boil and cook for few minutes to form a creamy sauce.
  39. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  40. Pour sauce over the cabbage head.
  41. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and bake it uncovered for 20 minutes.
  42. Remove from oven, and cut up into wedges (from middle top of the cabbage head toward the bottom).
  43. Serve it hot.

Enjoy and share comments.

 

 

 

Cream of Potato Soup 2During my childhood, soup was part of our daily menu.

Sometimes it was the only thing on the menu, especially at lunch time.

My mom would cook some kind of soup every single day, so we all grew up loving and craving soups.

Soups are actually very good for you, since they contain so much liquid, plus a variety of veggies.  Eating soup on a cold day makes you feel so warm and fuzzy, inside and out.  Don’t you agree?

Today I will share a recipe for a Cream of Potato soup, which for most part is based on a recipe from the The Pioneer Woman, but I doctored it a little, to suit our taste.

This recipe makes a large pot of soup; about 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon, cut to small pieces (I used Oscar Mayer center cut)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, cleaned and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (used my favorite gadget)
  • 6 medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 32 oz Chicken Broth (I used Swanson)
  • 4 cups of water, mixed with 3 chicken bouillons
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1% fat)
  • 1/2 cup cream (I used Half & Half)
  • Salt and Black Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 2 Tbs. fresh Parsley, chopped (my favorite is Flat Leaf Italian Parsley)
  • 1 tsp. fresh Dill weed, chopped
  • Grated cheese or dollop of sour cream for garnish (optional…I used grated Swiss)

Directions:

  1.  Heat up a large soup pot, add chopped bacon, and cook until all fat is sizzled out and bacon is crispy.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon bits and set aside.
  3. If you have a lot of bacon fat, remove most of it, except for 2 Tbs.
  4. Add chopped onions, carrots and celery to the fat and cook, stirring often, until veggies are translucent (5-10 minutes).
  5. Add chopped garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the chopped potatoes, and cook 5 minutes longer, stirring often so veggies do not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Pour in the broth, and water/bouillon mixture.  Mix well to loosen up the bacon particles off the bottom of the pot.
  8. Add bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Cook until the potatoes are almost done (10 minutes)
  10. Pour 2 Tbs. of milk into a cup, add the flour and make a paste.  Mix in the remaining milk, and add to the soup.
  11. Cook for 5 minutes.
  12. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  13. Using a slotted spoon, remove about 3/4 of the veggies from the soup, into a blender or food processor, and process to form a creamy paste.
  14. Pour this puree back into the soup pot, to combine with the rest of the soup.
  15. Add the paprika, and additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  16. Stir in cream, 1 Tbs. of Parsley and dill.  Save 1 Tbs. of Parsley for garnish.
  17. Serve hot soup in bowls, garnished with Parsley, bacon bits, and some grated cheese or sour cream (optional).

I liked the crispiness of the bacon bits in this soup, used for garnish.

Nice piece of fresh bread makes an excellent accompaniment to this delicious, creamy potato soup.

Yum!!

Sweet Italian Sausage - Nuwave oven recipeFreshly made Italian Sausage is the second best sausage choice next to Ukrainian Pork sausage (Kovbasa), at least on my list of favorite sausages.

I love shopping at the Dutch Country Farmers Market, in Middletown Delaware, for fresh  meat products made daily by local farmers, as well as locally grown fruits, vegetables, freshly baked goods and homemade Amish foods.

This week I purchased fresh Sweet Italian Sausage, Sage Sausage, and Fresh Polish Kielbasa (Sausage).

The Nuwave oven came in handy for preparing the Sweet Italian Sausage for a quick dinner tonight.

Yields 3-4 servings.

Ingredients:

  •  2 lb. Sweet Italian Sausage (2 long links)

Directions:

  1. Cut each sausage link into 3 equal section.
  2. Flatten slightly, or easier handling and cooking.
  3. Place the Nuwave oven rack on the 4 inch height.
  4. Place the sausages on the rack (as close to the middle as possible).
  5. Place the side cylinder over the base, fasten the lid in place, per manufacturer directions.
  6. Press the Power button once (this sets it on High).
  7. Set cooking time to 12 minutes and start cooking.
  8. After 12 minutes, carefully remove the dome of the Nuwave oven, and set aside.
  9. Using kitchen tongs, turn over each sausage.
  10. I also moved the sausages from the middle toward the side, and the side ones to the middle, for even cooking.
  11. Place the oven dome over the food.
  12. Press the Power button once again, and set cooking time for another 12 minutes.
  13. Once done, let sausage rest for 2 minutes, before removing oven dome.
  14. Serve as links, or slices, as I did in the above picture.

I served my sausage with steamed green beans, and summer yellow squash sautéed with Italian spices, olive oil, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, previously prepared in my Nuwave oven.

All vegetables were freshly picked from my garden.  How convenient and rewarding, for having my own veggie garden.

Barbeque-Back-RibsJello-CheesecakeSweet-and-Sour-Coleslaw-

Independence Day in the U.S. is always celebrated on July 4th.  Many businesses are closed that day in observance of this holiday.

Families and friends get together for a cook out, outdoor fun.  In the evening everyone is looking forward to an exciting display of fire works, usually prepared by a local fire department.

My contribution to this celebration will consist of links to some of my previously posted recipes, which you may wish to prepare for your guests.

Barbeque-Back-Ribs

These  Pork Ribs with Bourbon Whiskey Barbecue Sauce take little more time to complete, but are awesomely delicious, and the meat, literally, falls of the bone.

Vegetable-Platter-

For the vegetarian guests, this easy to assemble Vegetable Platter will be a hit, for sure.

Sweet-and-Sour-Coleslaw-

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw is another vegetarian choice, as well as an excellent side dish to accompany your barbecue meats.

Broccoli-Salad

Delicious and healthful Broccoli Salad.

 

Jello-Cheesecake

Your gusts will just LOVE this easy, no bake Low Fat Jello Cheesecake.

This dessert should be made a day ahead, or several hours before serving, to give it a chance to firm up.

Jello-Mold-

If you are looking for much simpler dessert recipe, nothing will take less effort than this Strawberry Cream Cheese Jello Mold.

Enjoy your Independence Day party, and stay safe!

 

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