Stir Crazy for Stir Fry!

Ms. Foodie Patootie loves her wok!  It’s one of the best purchases she has ever made, and not all that expensive.   How much does Ms. Foodie love her wok? Let’s count ’em!

1. It allows creation of an all-in-one meal.

2. It’s healthier–you’re using less oil and high heat to prepare the meal.

3. It’s versatile–you can put together any type of meat, veggie, tofu combination!

4.  It fits into Simple Fare, because it does not require heavy preparation or turning on a stove.   So as the weather warms, you’ll be see lots more stir fry from Ms. Foodie!

For this dish, I marinated some lean pork loin in Soy, Hoisin and rice vinegar for an hour, then cut it into strips.  That was the hardest part–the rest came straight from the store: chopped red onion and garlic, my favorite wild mushrooms (plus the broth), and some petite peas and sweet white corn.

The vinegar and the mushroom broth give the dish a bit of flavor, while the peas and corn balance it with mellow sweetness.

While doing the small prep, I set a pot of water on the flame for the Thai Rice Pasta.  I conveniently buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but any grocery store would probably have it.

Then I set the wok on the flame, poured a teaspoon of olive oil, and sautéed the onion, garlic and mushroom for a few minutes.  Then I added the peas and corn and the loin strips with the reserve marinade and stirred away!  I let all the ingredients meld for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, that pot of water has been brought to boil, so I added the Rice Pasta, cooked that for 10 minutes too, then drained the water.

Easy breezy!  Dinner is served.

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!

What’s for Dinner? Easy Tamale Pie to the rescue!

After a busy day facilitating the Tuesdays with Transitioners group and taking care of emails and other busyness, I needed a no-brainer for dinner.  I found this one on Recipe
What I like is that the recipe  isn’t heavy on the corn meal.  Mind you, I love me some cornbread and all that, but some tamale pie recipes have the ingredients caked in the corn meal, overpowering the dish.  And since kernel corn is also part of the meat mixture, you can have too much of a good thing!
I used ground pork instead of beef, which makes for a lighter dish.  Pork also gives it a sweet flavor, especially if you use white wine, instead of chicken broth. To continue with the more delicate, as opposed to overpowering, I used mozzarella instead of cheddar or jack.
This recipe is very flexible, so you can easily substitute ingredients and not feel as though you’ve ruined the dish.  Being an original Spice Girl (take that, Scary Spice!) I added a bit more chili powder and jalapenos than the recipe called for.
All I can say is, “Tasty!”