Meals on Veal: Ground Veal and Spinach Marinara Meat Sauce

Friday is quickie meal day.  After a week of life, the universe and everything, even Ms. Foodie doesn’t feel like slaving in the kitchen.  So if I don’t already have something prepared that I can reheat, I look for one of my One-Skillet or Kitchen Cabinet meals which emphasize using what’s in the house with little prep or cook time.

So Meat Sauce it is, but since I had some Ground Veal in the store, I decided to add this to my Meals on Veal repertoire. With the addition of frozen chopped spinach (also in the store), a new one-skillet meal is born!  I browned the Ground Veal in a non-stick pot with the chopped spinach, and seasoned with some fresh baby bells of assorted color, Basil, Oregano, minced onions, garlic powder, Fennel seed, Thyme,  ground pepper and Sea Salt.

Ms. Foodie tries to keep a pasta sauce in the store, and I pulled from that with the Four Cheese from the Whole Foods 365 Organic line.  Once the meat was browned and spinach melted, I poured in the sauce with an addition of Parmesan/Romano cheese for thickening, and about a cup of brown sugar.  Not only does it add a richer flavor to the meat, but it cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce.  I covered the pan and let these ingredients simmer and meld for about 30 minutes, then turn off heat and let the sauce sit for about 10 minutes more.

Trader Joe’s’ Mushroom-filled tortellini is the pasta of choice, on which I liberally poured the Veal and Spinach Marinara sauce.

And remember that Cheddar Cheese French loaf from the other day?  Well the leftovers warmed up nicely in the toaster oven to make a nice accompaniment to the Tortellini covered meat sauce.

And Veal still surprises me for its amazing lightness; yet still very filling.

Have a great weekend–eat well!

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Ground Beef Stroganoff…

Is what’s cooking!  Served over a bed of egg noodles, it makes for a hearty meal.

Eaasy (and I mean it) Skillet Drumsticks…

So Ms. Foodie was talking to a fellow Foodie friend, who can throw down in her own right, and we were discussing how some of these recipes labeled “easy” are anything but.  How many of you keep endive on the regular in your fridge?  My Foodie friend agrees.

Hence my giving up on the erroneously labeled “easy chicken drumstick recipes” on the Internet to create my own.  Would you expect anything less?

I began with the marinade: Worcestershire, Pineapple juice, lemon pepper, lightly browned butter, and a bit of orange in any form: a 1/4 cup orange juice, canned mandarin oranges, or the navel variety, freshly squeezed.  We just happened to have some of the latter lying around, so I went with that!

I cut two 1/4-inch slices into the meaty part of the drumsticks, so that the full flavor could sink in, then threw them in a bowl with all the aforementioned ingredients.  I always add the browned butter last, so that it won’t solidify too quickly.  Put it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to let the flavors settle–quick and breezy.

While the meat was marinating, I attended to the side dish:  Fruity Jasmine Brown Rice.  I’m not a huge fan of the Brown, but it is healthier, and the Jasmine variety seems a bit mellower and less grainy than its long-grain counterpart.  I also cook it in a rice steamer with part water and part chicken broth, to further mellow it.  Then to fruit it up, I added that remaining pineapple juice and some fresh cranberries, which burst with flavor upon cooking!  Cranberries freeze well, so they are a regular part of my store.  You can substitute dried cranberries or a dried (or fresh) fruit of your choice.

And for my veggie, those sprouts from Brussel, steamed to perfection.  For those who like the health benefit, but are not fond of the bitter, pour any cooking vinegar (rice, balsamic, red wine) over the sprouts before you steam them–totally cuts it out.

With the meat good and soaked with the marinade, I threw them in a non-stick skillet, covered, and cooked over medium heat.  Turning them halfway through cooking keeps the flavors evenly distributed.  Drumsticks generally cook within 20-25 minutes.

All the subtle fruity goodness makes this dish most Delish!

What’s for Dinner?

A bit of Mexican and Summer Cool…

Chicken Enchiladas accompanied by a salad of crisp organic Spinach leaves, vine-ripened tomatoes, and pluots!

Kitchen-Cabinet Cooking at its best.  It’s amazing what you can do with shredded chicken breast, green chiles, sour cream and enchilada sauce.  And all in less than an hour.

Pays to keep them in your store.

Breaking the Fast: Pumpernickel and Currant French Toast stuffed with Rosemary Ham

Ms. Foodie was having a hankering for French toast, but decided to add a bit of a twist–doubling the bread and stuffing ham in the middle.  I bought the Rosemary Ham from the purveyor of all foods unique–Trader Joe’s.

The pumpernickel currant bread was leftover from a housewarming gift; too rich to eat every day, but perfect for this type of meal.  I soaked it a bit longer in the egg mixture in order to properly saturate.

With some warm maple syrup to top, it turned out to be quite satisfying…

Breakfast in a Biscuit

So Ms. Foodie Patootie had an epiphany: instead of making plain ‘ole biscuits to eat, why not create a tasty treat?  Uh, oh! Watch out!  I’m a foodie and a poet.

But seriously, chefs of every culture have been filling dough with all kinds of good stuff, from Empanadas to Pierogies–so my idea is nothing new, just a variation on an old theme.

My first trick was going back to that Kitchen-Cabinet Cooking principle: What’s in the store?  Lucky for me, I always keep on hand a baking mix–any baking mix, whether it’s Bisquick® or a generic store brand.  They usually have a quick n’ dirty biscuit recipe on the back of the box, and so that is where I began!

Once I formed the dough mixture, I set it aside and attended to the stuff inside.  Going back to the stores, I still had some ham left, so I finely chopped some of that, and combined it with Sharp Cheddar and a couple of pats of butter to enhance the flavor of the dough.

Once again, the beauty of the Kitchen-Cabinet Cooking method is improvisation.  Nothing’s set in stone, it’s whatever works with your diet and your budget.  I already have visions of stuffing them with ground beef, Swiss cheese and mushroom.  So, whether you’re a carnivore, omnivore or herbivore, adapt to suit your fancy!

I filled my dough just enough to fill the center, then wrapped it around from the corners to join them in the center.

Once your filling is all wrapped and snug, pop them in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, and whaddaya know?  An instant breakfast or brunch appetizer!

What I most like about these is that they are freezable: so you can store and eat the remainder at your leisure.

That is, if there are any remaining…

Sauce and the Kitchen Cabinet

So, Ms. Foodie Patootie has restocked the kitchen, but Kitchen Cabinet cooking doesn’t just come in handy only when you’re broke and low on stores–it’s a great way to improvise when you don’t have it on hand and don’t feel like getting it.

Which is where I found myself tonight.  On this busy Saturday, I already had it in my head to make some ground pork marinara and took the ground pork from the freezer.  However, I failed to check whether I had restocked on the bottled pasta sauce I often use as a base.  Yeah, I’m creative–but I’m also lazy.

Come to find out there was zero pasta sauce in the store–but, there were four cans of diced tomatoes, which was a beginning…

After sautéing a whole white onion and three chopped garlic cloves, I added it to the cans of diced tomatoes.  Add to that two tablespoons full of extra virgin olive oil,  half a cup of Cabernet Sauvignon, a touch of balsamic vinegar, some of those wild mushrooms I love,  and one cup of Parmesan/Romano grated cheese, and the makings of a sauce were at hand…

After browning that ground pork and adding it to the simmering mix, the proof, of course, is in the spices; and I added those liberally: Marjoram, Thyme, crushed Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, freshly ground pepper and Sea Salt.

I gave it a couple of hours of simmer, then served it over Capellini, with a glass of that lovely Two-Vine Cabernet Sauvignon.  Très Magnifique!

What’s for Dinner? Potato Gnocchi with Peas and Ham Béchamel

Yes, yes… still going through the Kitchen Cabinet cookbook, and ham happens to be the major meat store–good thing I’m a fan.  But I will say it again–you can substitute any protein of your choosing.

For this recipe, I took my lovely chopped ham and added it to my own Béchamel Sauce.  In English, that’s simply melted butter mixed with flour, and hot milk.  

But I decided to throw in some traditionally Carbonara Sauce ingredients: peas, ham and a twist–my wild mushrooms.  I even poured in some of the mushroom broth to extend the sauce.  Sprinkle in some pepper, and ooh la la, yummy for the tummy!

I stock packaged Gnocchi, which is a potato pasta; it soaks up all that good stuff.  Gnocchi is easy, cheap, and if you have the potatoes, something that you can make from scratch.  But that, my friends, is a recipe for another day.

To modify an advertising slogan: Stay hungry, my friends.

What’s for breakfast? More Kitchen Cabinet Cooking

Ms. Foodie Patootie was very hungry this morning, which is rare–usually the coffee-IV does it for me for at least two hours.  So to continue with our theme of Kitchen Cabinet Cooking, I decided to whip up a favorite boiled egg breakfast sandwich that is easy to make, with ingredients you normally have on hand, come rain or come shine.

I’m not as young as I used to be, so fiber has definitely become more important in my dietary life: which is why I love these Alvarado Street Bakery breads.  High fiber content, organic ingredients, and it’s still tasty!  I toasted a couple of slices of Sprouted Sourdough while my eggs were boiling.

Now here’s where your preferences come in–what to include as an accompaniment to your egg sandwich.  Being partial to pork, that ham I have stashed in my store comes into play, along with some delicious Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Preserves.  But easy and versatile is the key, so you can use butter, mayonnaise or some other type of spread or protein that you enjoy and have on hand.   I’ve even used just salsa!  My sister Joan is a vegetarian, so she likes that one 😀

Once the eggs were boiled to my liking (hard), and I slathered my bread with the spread and protein of choice, I sliced the eggs crosswise and arranged them on top of my bread and spread.

You can eat it dainty  as two separate pieces, or put ’em together to make your sandwich.  I prefer the sandwich method.

I promise, it’s delish!

Soup is good food…

So like most people, I’m in between paychecks, which means we are low on stores.  Getting down to the dregs of the cabinet, so to speak.  Good thing I pick good dregs!

I call it Kitchen Cabinet Cooking, and being one who is familiar with cash flow problems, I’ve become quite good at it; so during flush times, I stock my kitchen accordingly.

I try to always keep a soup base in my store–usually an organic corn chowder or butternut squash.  So I decided to use Imagine‘s Organic Creamy Sweet Corn Soup and turn it into a pot of Chunky Corn Chowder!

When I make a roast, ham, or whole chicken, I chop up the leftovers and freeze them.  So I pulled out some frozen ham I had stashed, then added a frozen mixed vegetable medley, and there you go–from creamy to chunky in five minutes flat!

For the pièce de résistance, I took some dehydrated wild mushrooms and soaked them in hot water for about 20 minutes.   A bit of the mushroom broth gives a nice flavor to any dish, along with the chopped mushroom pieces.

Add some herbs and spices of your choice (I’m partial to pepper, basil, oregano and thyme), cook it for about 30 minutes or so, then serve it up with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh spinach, parsley or pepper pieces.

Voilà!  A luxurious dinner produced with spartan ingredients.

A serving suggestion: Trader Joe’s makes these fabulous pretzel rolls that come in a ring, and make a great accompaniment.

But as I said, we’re low on the stores, so Lynn improvised with another personal favorite that was in the store: Carr’s Table Water Crackers baked with Roasted Garlic and Herbs…

Soup is perfect for this rainy night in Los Angeles.  Mmm, mmm, Good!