Nori's Stuff - Gardening, quilting, cooking and dogs

Archive for February, 2013

Recipes

February 27, 2013

Healthy and easy casserole

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Tomato, onion, green and red pepper, broccoli and carrot.

Tomato, onion, green and red pepper, broccoli and carrot.

This is an easy and delicious way to get a mess of vegetables in an easy potentially low fat prepare-ahead meal. This recipe can easily be multiplied to feed more people. It’s an awesomely delicious and healthy lunch or dinner that I can prepare way ahead of time.

I don’t know if it’s fair to call this dish a casserole as it’s just veggies and a frank. You could make this with any kind of sausage or hot dog. I use Painted Hill’s Natural Beef Franks but it would be lovely with other types of commercial cured sausage.

Rough chop half a tomato and put it in the bottom of an individual casserole dish. Make sure you use the tomato. It provides the moisture and the acidity that will balance the dish and make it delicious.  You can use a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.  If you do, add a half-cup of water for the moisture.

Layer a selection of vegetables on top. I’ve used onion, potato, broccoli, green and red peppers, carrot, celery, zuccini and use a different variety as the mood strikes.  You can even use potato, just cut it in smaller cubes so it cooks thoroughly.

Whatever vegetables you add should equal four or five times the volume of the meat.  Place your choice of vegetables on top of the tomato. Cut the sausage or frank up and put it on top and put the cover on.  This is the absolute perfect dish for a toaster oven, which is what I’ve got.  Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes.  Once the dish has cooled enough to eat, pull the lid and enjoy!

Recipes

February 25, 2013

Korean beef

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This is an adaptation of a Korean rice bowl recipe I found online. The first time I made it I followed the directions which called for cooking the meat first, then adding the veges but the very lovely beef I used came out so overcooked and tough I never did it that way again.

The original recipe called for a lot of stuff and I like fairly simple but great tasting food so I made some . . . uh . . . adjustments.

Make a marinade –

  • 1 or 2 crushed/minced/finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (I use tubinado instead – healthier)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (I use coconut aminos instead)
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (leave this out if you want – it’s a make-you-fat thickener)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry (optional but tasty)

Chop the beef in relatively small pieces and stir into the marinade until well coated.

Prep whatever veges you want. Cut the denser veges in smaller slices/pieces to even out the cooking. Use a carrot or two, a stalk of celery or two, some red pepper, some green pepper, a zuccini if you’ve got one, some broccoli if you’ve got some, half an onion. Pea pods would be good as would bean sprouts but add the bean sprouts right at the end when the veges are added back to the pan with the meat or they will overcook.

If you’re a minimalist, feel free to just use onion and peppers.

Stir fry the veges in a bit of olive oil. When the veges are not quite done, lift them out and add the meat reserving the marinade for later. When the meat’s is almost done, add the marinade sauce and layer the veges over the top.  Wait a bit to stir it all together. When the marinade has finished thickening and the meat is done, the dish is done.

Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on the top. Serve over rice if you like.

Recipes

February 24, 2013

Easy and tasty almond chicken for two

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This is my go-to recipe for just-for-me food.  It’s not super-quick to fix (about 20 minutes) but it’s delicious, packed with flavor and veges and, for the nutritional value in the meal, it’s uber-healthy.

I buy chicken thighs in the family pack size and zip them into sandwich bags, put them into a gallon zip bag and chuck them in the freezer.  I pull a thigh out in the morning and toss it on the counter.  By lunch it’s thawed and ready to use.

Skin and debone one chicken thigh per person. Slice the skin in strips and put the skin and bone in a small sauce pan with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water per thigh to make the required chicken broth.  This chicken broth is healthy and a zero dollar addition to the recipe from something you would have thrown away.  If you’re a broth purist, chop some celery and onion and toss it in as well.  I don’t see the need.  This dish is already max tasty, full of texture and flavor and excellent nutrition.

Slap on a lid and start it cooking. You want to bring it to a boil and turn it down to simmer while you’re prepping the rest of the stuff. Flip the bones over a couple times as it cooks to get as much flavor out as possible.  Because you’ve sliced the skin into strips, it needs zero attention.

Dice the chicken in 1/2 to 3/4″ cubes. Stick it into a marinade of (measurement is per chicken thigh) 2 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos if you’re soy adverse), 2 tbsp Lee & Perrins Worchestershire sauce, 2 tbsp sherry (I use Sheffield’s creme sherry), 1 crushed clove a garlic and (optional and fattening so leave it out if you prefer) 1 tbsp corn starch.  The Worchestershire sauce adds a layer of very complimentary flavor and is not standard to the recipe.  One day I was short on coconut aminos and use the worchestershire to make up the difference.  I was so caught by the flavor combo I adjusted the recipe and haven’t looked back.

While the skin and bone are simmering, prepare these veges.  The measurements are per thigh so double for two, triple for three . . . 1 carrot peeled, cut in half lengthwise and slice in less than 1/4″ thick slices on the diagonal. Slice 1/2 a medium onion thinly. Slice a celery stalk on the diagonal.  (Because I mostly cook this recipe for just me and don’t need to impress anyone, I pull the celery bundle out of the vege drawer and cut the top of the bundle off  in thinnish slices until I have the amount I want, usually 3 or 4 cuts.)  Add some mushroom.  I like mine cut in sticks but do what makes you happy.  Add a little sliced pepper (both red and green).  I like pepper in almost everything.  If you’re not a pepper fan, leave it out. Slice a handful of water chestnut slices (canned) into sticks. Cut a handful of bamboo shoots (canned) in half lengthwise.  Once I’ve opened the cans I process everything in the cans and put them in zippies in the freezer so they stay good until I’m ready to use them.  You can break them into portions (1 snack zippy with both water chestnut and bamboo shoots) and pull the right number of portions out of the freezer when you pull out the chicken.

In a small frying pan, pour 1/2″ peanut oil and start it heating. When the oil is hot (add a single almond slice – when it starts to sizzle, the oil’s hot) throw in 1/4 cup of sliced almonds per thigh.  If you’re making more than two servings, use a bigger pan so the almonds have room to brown. Stir and shake until the almonds just start to change color. If you wait any longer they will rapidly turn brown and taste a bit burnt so be ready to pull them out of the oil just as they start to turn color.  I’ve eaten them that way and it isn’t bad, just not great so keep a close eye as you’re cooking them.

Pour the almonds and oil through a metal mesh (screen) strainer so the oil drains into a bigger frying pan. Drain the almonds really well (shake and wiggle) and spread them on a paper towel to stop the cooking and finish draining.

Once the peanut oil is again up to temp, toss in all the prepped veges and stir/shake a bit longer than it takes to turn the onions transparent. None of the other raw veges will be completely done yet but close.  The dish won’t be horrible if you slightly overcook or undercook the veges, and you’ll prefect this with practice.  You’re going to cook them again so don’t over-cook them now.

While the veges are cooking, use the screen to strain the chicken out of the marinade.   I dump the drained chicken into the small frying pan so the residual heat will start to bring the chicken up to temp.

Dump the broth from the chicken skin/bones into the marinade.  The hot broth will help bring the marinade up to temp.

Dump the veges out of the frying pan into the strainer over a bowl to drain off the remaining oil.  

Dump the chicken into the big frying pan. Stir until cooked nearly cooked through.  Don’t overcook.  Add the marinade/broth.  If you’re using a thickener, wait until it gets up to temp and starts to thicken before adding the veges back to the pan.  Don’t stir them in just yet. Dump in the almonds and cook the whole thing just a bit longer.  You don’t want limp veges but you do want thickened sauce and done meat.  This dish is better if they still have just a bit of a crunch.

If you like bean spouts, they would be a good addition. Add them when you add the veges into the pan with the chicken. Any sooner and they’ll be overcooked.

Enjoy!

Quilting

February 16, 2013

New and loving it

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301A in a trapezoid table.

The picture my friend sent me.  It’s lovely!

 

Enough lint for three machines, packed in so tight it took extraordinary measures to get it all out.

Cleaning up.  Enough lint for three machines packed in so tight it took extraordinary measures to get it all out.

A friend, knowing I love Singer 301As and trapezoid cabinets, found one for me.  The cabinet’s a lovely thing, mahogany veneer with just a tiny chip on the right end of the under-table.  The 301 is a black short-bed that’s in really lovely shape, just needing a good cleaning and lube and new wiring.  The cleaned machine is very quiet and smooth and I had the necessary wiring in my stash of parts.

This machine came with three bobbins.  Two of the bobbins had four separate colors/lengths of thread each.  The remaining bobbin had seven different pieces/colors of thread wound on.  There was so much lint, packed in so tightly, I had to disassemble the bobbin carrier to get all the lint out.

If you’re wondering what makes a trapezoid table so special, it’s for two very nice reasons.  The left end of the table is hinged and the swings out to support the table extension when it’s open.  Secondly, because the shape of the table is shorter on the front than the back, the table extension wraps to the front just a bit making it easier to keep things on the table.

I’ve already sewing a bunch of quilt bindings and today I’ll use this lovely machine to put borders on a quilt top.  Color me happy.