Turkey meat-loaf bites & Cranberry dipping sauce

I’m going to be perfectly honest. This is NOT what I was aiming for. A few weeks ago, I was goofing with the kids telling them what I was going to cook for dinner. The random words that fell from my lips involved turkey nuggets and cranberry dipping sauce. Naturally, I thought this was going to be a brilliant idea. So. I was wrong, but it’s okay, because the dipping sauce was pretty good and I think it’d make a damn fine spread for a turkey sandwich. I’m giving the full recipe for both here because you could probably cook the meatloaf bites as meatloaf and top it with the spread. It’s in the realm of comfort food. Someday, hopefully, I’ll give the turkey bites another go and actually get them right. In the mean-time, here is what I came up with.

img_2080

Turkey meat-loaf bites:

What you need:

  • 2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Rosemary (crush if you can)
  • 1 tsp Sage
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 3 cups Panko crumbs
  • ½ C. flour
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Mix 1 ½ C. Panko crumbs with ½ C. flour with salt, pepper, a dash of garlic, and a dash of sage. This is going to be your breading. Mix the rest of the ingredients together, it should be a bit dry as if you’re going to make meatballs. Make little chicken-nugget shapes and roll in the breading, place on a well-oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 20min at 375, flip and bake for another 10 minutes.

Dipping sauce/turkey spread:

What you need:

  • 1 16 can jellied cranberry juice
  • 3 oz orange juice
  • ½ tsp Ground ginger
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • pinch sage
  • Pinch orange zest

Directions:

Whisk all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth sauce, serve at room temperature.

Advertisements

Basil chicken stir-fry

img_2065

First appeared in the Seward Journal Newspaper 02/22/2017

If I had my way, I would literally eat every meal directly from a can.
As much as I love good food, I hate dishes. This is even more true
when I’ve spent 8 hours working, 4 hours caught in traffic, an hour
cajoling the children into finishing homework and entirely too much
time shoveling the driveway, which still has me concerned
archeologists might very well find my desiccated remains at the bottom
of a glacier in a thousand years. Rather than giving in and having
‘everything from a can’ tacos, I rely heavily on stir-fry to keep
dishes to a minimum while still providing something vaguely like a
nourishing meal. That said, I can only get away with tossing the very
nearly expired vegetables with tofu and chicken with some some
‘stir-fry sauce’ from the bottle about once every other week. In order
to combat this prohibition, which my wife assures me is, in fact,
enshrined in our wedding vows, I have to get creative with the stir
fry. It turns out that if the flavor profile is different enough, even
if the ingredients really aren’t, it doesn’t count against the
stir-fry limit. So, here was this week’s version of stir-fry.

What you need:
Main dish:

  • 2Tbsp oil
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1Tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 Tsp Sage
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped – separate green tops from the white bottoms.
  • 1/4 Cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 Chicken breasts chopped into 1/2” – 3/4” cubes.
  • 2-3 Cups thawed or fresh broccoli florets
  • 2 small yellow squash

Rice:

  • 2 Cups jasmine rice
  • 1 Can of chicken broth
  • 1 C Water
  • 2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions:
Cook the rice as you normally would in a pot by bringing the rice,
chicken broth, water, and parsley to a boil. Once the rice is cooked,
add the oil, mixing it in well. You can use 1-2 Tbsp or so of butter
instead of olive oil, but we’ve got food allergies to contend with so
this is what I use, it still gave a buttery taste.

Pour a couple of tablespoons into a 14” wok and brown the chicken,
garlic and the white parts of the onion. Once the chicken is browned,
add everything else, holding back only the green parts of the onion –
add those right near the end. Cook over high heat stirring frequently.
The goal is to cook down the water. There will be a lot of water
because a lot of water will come out of the veggies. Once the
vegetables are cooked through serve over the rice.

Super awesome Steak and Potatoes

img_2064

A few years ago, which my belt insists was far too long ago, my family staged an intervention on my blood-pressure and Cholesterol. For a good long while after that, I exercised a lot and cut 90% of the red meat out of my diet. Hell, I cut out 100% of beer and even got close to being able to run a half-marathon. It was awesome. I felt good, my clothes fit nicely and I had lots of energy. Of course, what I didn’t have was much time. Fast forward to today, I killed my gym membership because I couldn’t make time to get down there and am struggling to get my ass out of the chair and, if nothing else, keep my weight from getting even worse.

The one change I made that I’m holding pretty well too is the near complete elimination of red meats and far more careful intake of unhealthy foods. I’ve been slipping on he unhealthy food front, but I’m holding firm on red-meat. Of course, this is super easy to do when I walk into the grocery store and peruse the meat section. I just can’t justify spending $20 for a meal of red meat. I mean, hell, who can afford that shit? (If you happen to be one of those people, I don’t want to hear it.)

Anyhow, when we do eat steak, I generally don’t, except for Christmas dinner, in which I eat a 4oz portion. I even get turkey burger when we grill in the summer. It’s seems pretty unfair for my family to have to adhere to the same standards of food intake because they don’t have problems with high-blood pressure. That’s sort of a ‘me’ issue. A good work around thus far that minimizes my intake of red-meat, reduces the cost of red, meat AND gets my family a tasty steak and potatoes meal, PLUS (and this is the real bonus) It’s a one pan meal ONE PAN. One pan means less dishes, which, you know, my wife gets stuck with most of the time, but you know, I’m looking out for her too.

What you need:

  • 4-8 Potatoes, depending on size. I like the smaller Yukon gold, you’ll want to use upward of 8 of them.
  • 1 – 1 ¼lb Steak chopped into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Parsley
  • ½ Large yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp dill weed
  • 4Tbsp olive oil (or 2 Tbsp olive oil 2Tbsp lard)
  • 1/2Tsp Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2Tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 C. Red wine
  • 1 12-oz bottle Stout beer
  • 1 8oz package sliced mushrooms
  • Montreal steak seasoning (it’s got salt, pepper, dill seeds, and some other stuff in it.)

Directions

Rub the Montreal steak seasoning into the diced meat and brown in a well-seasoned 14” iron skillet with 2 Tbsp of olive oil or 2 Tbsp lard. Pull the meat off the skillet and set aside.

Dice the potatoes into relatively small pieces, roughly ½” or smaller. This will help them cook faster. Put them into a large covered bowl with onions, 2 tbsp oil, salt, pepper, and the dill. Mix well and put into the Iron skillet. Cook until the onions start to get a bit translucent. Add the Beer, red wine, Worcestershire sauce. Allow that to bubble off and once it’s cooking well again, add in the rest of the ingredients. Cook until the potatoes are soft, but not mushy, and the sauce has thickened into a gravy.

Pancakes and Opinions

img_2073

Somewhere earlier this year, I committed myself to writing a post a week on this site and also having guest blogs. Guess what I haven’t done? Why? No idea. None whatsoever. I write an article every week for the Seward Journal newspaper. It would literally take me an extra 2 minutes to paste it on to the website and share. Anyhow. I’m totally ready to fix that, starting TODAY! I’ll start by going back, at least as well as I can, to some of the recipes I’ve sent into the Seward Journal and to other random crap I’ve cooked up.

So, what is today’s adventure in undernourishment? How about something totally beyond mundane… Pancakes. Pancakes are easily recognized as one of the main staples in the standard dad cooking play-book. As such, we’ve all got pretty specific ideas about how to cook pancakes. There are two basic approaches, mine, and everyone else’s, which might possibly be like mine, in which case it’s correct. To start, the right way NEVER involves oil. None at all. Oil and pancakes are like oil and a grease fire. You would not add oil to a grease fire, so why would you add it to pancakes?

The best part of cooking pancakes like this is that it’s dramatically cheaper than cereal & milk. I think we’re pushing $5/box for the good stuff? Sure, you can get the cheap stuff for, um, cheaper, but the problem with that is that the cheap stuff tends to be less filling and so your children eat more, which more or less negates the cost savings. Plus, you can’t get around the volumes of milk needed to drive a cereal breakfast. If you triple this batch and refrigerate the results, it’ll keep three pre-teens fed for at least a week. Instead of spending $20 on three boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk, you’ve spent probably a total of $5 for the week.

What you need:

  • A pinch of salt, like less than 1/8th tsp.
  • 1 egg
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 ¼ C. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately with a whisk, then whisk them together. It’ll be a bit lumpy and that’s fine, so long as it’s not too lumpy.

Pour 1/8th-1/4 C. mix on to a hot, ungreased, non-stick grittle. I do mine at a medium-low, but it’s going to depend a lot on your stove top. Cook until the edges are dry and the bubbles on top are starting to pop, then flip. Cook for another minute or so. That’s it. You’re done. If the tops are too dark when you flip, turn the heat down, if they’re too pale, turn the heat up.

 

Biscuits and Gravy

img_1980

Good morning & Merry Christmas. I went to bed last night cooking my rear off in order to feed everyone last night and also make sure everyone is fed today. The one advantage is that I didn’t have time to watch too much TV and get all ‘festive’ meaning that today’s headache is fully related to sleep deprivation. Before I go on, I just want to be clear, I AM NOT ALONE! My wife is also cooking her ass off as well, there’s just a shitload to be done. So, if you happen to be a husband reading this and you’ve spent your morning playing vintage NES. You need to get off your ass and fucking help. This shit is hard.

To start off my day, after opening 3 bottles of whiskeys that etiquette suggests I can’t drink for some 12 hours  yet, I launched into breakfast mode. With egg and dairy allergies, my go-to egg mash-up is completely off the table. What wasn’t off the table is biscuits and gravy. So, what’s the status of that? Well, the biscuits weren’t quite right for this and the sausage gravy is basically perfect.

For your biscuits, use literally anything. I used the royal baking company’s oatmeal biscuits. these are sweet and would work well in something like a strawberry shortcake, but they did make for a nice contrast in this one.

  • 1 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Royal Baking Company Baking Powder*
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 6Tbsp shortening
  • 1 1/3 C. Cooked oatmeal (steel cut or something – NOT instant!)

I used egg substitute, which generally works fine for baking. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients then mix them together. If by some miracle, you manage to get a dry enough dough to roll out and cut, do that. Otherwise, pour into a clean, well seasoned, and well oiled cast iron skillet. Put into the oven for ~30-35 min at 350. Even when the fork comes out basically dry, it’s going to come out of the oven pretty soggy, it’s largely due to the moisture content of the oats, it should be fine, if a bit thick.

img_1979

For the sausage gravy:

  • 1 Lb breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 C. flour
  • Lots of milk (I used Almond/Cashew)
  • Pepper to taste – Use a lot, like a whole Tsp, probably.

Brown the sausage and slowly add in the flour while stirring the browned sausage. Once all of the flour is coating the sausage, start pouring in milk at about 1/2 C. at a time, allow it to thicken and add more until you have a nice thick gravy. Add your pepper and maybe a hint of salt. If you add too much milk, let it cook a bit, it should thicken, if not sprinkle just a bit more flour on.

img_1978


* To make Royal baking powder sift together 2T Cream of tartar, 1T cornstarch & 1T baking soda. This is a baking powder without the aluminum phosphate and can be used on a lot of vintage recipes.

Easy Enchilada Casserole

By Fred Tice

** This article first appeared in the November 30 Issue of the Seward Journal Newspaper**

Rather than serve up the usual fare of ‘leftover turkey’ recipes,
which you’ve undoubtedly already worked through, something not-turkey
and also easy seemed in order. Fred Tice came to the rescue with this
gem:
img_1820
There are two methods I use to determine the bona fides of a Mexican
restaurant. The first is when I sit down. A pitcher of margaritas
should appear instantly, as if by magic.

OK, no, not really.

The first is the chips and salsa. If the chips are stale, or the salsa
thin and weak, that doesn’t bode well.

The second, far more important test is how well they make enchiladas.

A really good enchilada is a culinary work of art, a thing of beauty.
Have you ever tried to make them, complete with the presentation of a
first-rate Mexican eatery? I have, and rolling those things up without
destroying them is darn near impossible, not to mention time
consuming. That’s why I use the recipe that follows. Total prep time
is about 1½ hours.

Ingredients:

A package of around 20 or so small flour or corn tortillas. (I like
flour, but corn is healthier and lower calorie. The diameter isn’t
important, it’s just that corn tortillas usually only come in
six-inch.)

2 pounds ground beef or turkey

32-oz. can enchilada sauce, green or red, chef’s preference

1 to 1½  pounds grated cheese (depending on the cheesiness of the
cook). I like to mix ½ pound mozzarella and ½ pound Monterey jack, but
whatever you have on hand is fine.

16-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained. I like the ones w/ oregano, basil
and garlic already in the can; this is optional.

Spices as desired.

½ tablespoon cooking oil

8-oz. can of sliced black olives for garnish (optional)

In a large skillet, brown and drain the ground meat. Mix in the
enchilada sauce and tomatoes. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat
and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until a fairly thick consistency is
reached. Mixture should not be too soupy. Season to taste with cumin,
salt, pepper, chili powder, and/or paprika.

While enchilada sauce is simmering, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly oil a large casserole dish (approximately four quarts). Line
with tortillas. When ready, ladle on a layer of sauce, enough so
tortillas are just barely visible. Then add a layer of grated cheese,
approximately ½ inch thick.

Add another layer of tortillas, then more sauce, and another layer of
cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used, making the top layer
cheese. Garnish with olives if desired.

Place in preheated oven and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until
cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven, allow to cool until top layer of
cheese stops bubbling, and serve. Refried beans make a good side with
this recipe. Another bonus – great leftovers. This is one of those
recipes that is better after it sits in the fridge all night, then
microwave for breakfast. Yum!


Special thanks to Fred for submitting this article. Image shown is Dave Koster attempting to make both a green batch and a red batch for a school potluck – it went over well.

Some Kinda Chicken Thing

img_1805

I’m starting to think that Sunday is really the only day I’ve got the stomach or attention span to cook. Not that I don’t have the stomach or attention span to eat the rest of the week, it’s just that when you’re in a household with children and two working parents, there just isn’t time to enjoy cooking, or cook, or think about what to cook. Most days you roll in the door at quarter after 5, and set to getting something resembling a meal on the table by about 6. That’s like 45 minutes to actually prepare. I’m not even sure you can routinely get a batch of hamburger helper to cook up in that span of time. Do people still eat that? It was basically a child-hood staple for me and I haven’t eaten it in over 20 years.

I can almost always have dinner on the table when it’s plain noodles – which my children and wife are generous enough to allow me to pass off as a perfectly acceptable option. It gets dicier when I try to get fancy. In the summer, I’ve got the luxury of tossing some chicken on the grill and nuking some canned green-beans, that goes over reasonably well because I can alternate between barbecue sauce, various non barbecue marinades, or olive-oil and spices. Winter is a little more difficult. I can still get away with chicken in the oven, but it takes a lot longer and roughly 94.2% of the time, I’ve forgotten to either pull the chicken from the freezer or ask my wife to before she leaves for work. Without defrosted chicken, it’s either Dave’s special ‘Damn-near everything from a can’ tacos, or plain noodles, which you can only do once a week each.

Last week was no exception to this rule. I cooked ham on Sunday, spaghetti on Monday, fast-food on Tuesday, Wednesday was crock-pot day, so my wife threw leftover ham and beans into the crock-pot, and Thursday I didn’t even bother with a meal. So, today, I decided that we needed something approximating nutrition, or at least a dinner that resembled a home-cooked meal. Unfortunately, I also wanted to wallow in self-pity over my failure to get a book published, avoid house cleaning, and play a bit of classic video games. The obvious way to manage all of these, and still end up with good food at the end, is the crock-pot. I selected a recipe from the chicken book, modified it to include only ingredients I have on hand, adding a few others for good measure, and converted the whole thing into a crock-pot meal. Here is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • A bunch of chicken (I used like 5 Thighs and about as many drumsticks)
  • 3 cans of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup pitted & quartered kalamata olives
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup wine (use a nice one, I prefer Black Box)

Directions:

Throw all that stuff into the crock pot, I didn’t even bother defrosting the chicken. Cook on low for 7.5 hours and serve over jasmine rice. That’s it. It took longer to work out what ingredients we had than to prepare and cook it. Cheers!

When the kids get old enough

Today I totally forgot to pull anything from the freezer for dinner. If it weren’t for the two very nearly expired packages of tofu and a huge bag of stale rice, we’d have all starved. Well not really, the kids would have eaten marshmallows and I would have counted the 500 or so calories contained in a beer sufficient for a meal.

In addition to the tofu, we also had some veggies. Veggies + rice + tofu, topped with whatever sauces came out of the Asian section of the grocery store = Stir Fry.

Literally the hardest part of cooking stir fry is cutting stuff up. But!!! My kids are now old enough to be handed a knife and pile of veggies and told to proceed in whatever fashion they deem sufficient. Victory. All I had to do was fry the tofu and poof cut up zucchini, peppers and squash magically appeared on the cutting board.

It really feels like all those nights of cutting up pork chops into pieces so small they require an electron microscope to actually see have finally paid off. Best part – they didn’t bitch about dinner. If only every night could turn out so well.