Happy Friendly Friday, Folks!
It’s Fall, and the start of a new school year for many. What do you do to keep everyone fed and full of healthy energy to get things done?
I explore one option here.
While hosting family this summer, we gave those partially-prepped ready-to-cook meals a try, and started with Amazon’s kits, newly on the market. The lucky couple getting married Washington, Alanna & Alex even played guinea pig, and Kris picked up the slack when I started to feel a little spun around running multiple meal trials at once.*
Pro-Tip of the Day:
Have you been buying those boxes and bags of oranges on sale at the store?
Next time pick up a bag of coconut flakes and sliced almonds, and you can make this quick, yummy (gluten-free) byproduct treat from in-season fruit!
How can you dust powdered sugar on your holiday desserts without making a mess, AND conserve the left over for the next round?
Try a tea infuser! Here’s the shortest video I’ve ever intentionally made, lol.
I’m pretty sure even if you don’t have one with an easy handle and all, it’ll still work neater than a gigantor flour sieve. Then you can return the rest to the bag! You know how I hate food waste..
Is it Fall? Is it windy with a risk of power outage in the Pacific Northwest? Are the daylight hours narrowing into a tiny sliver of hope/despair? Did I just go to Facing East and have stewed pork after a 7 mile hike a few weekends ago?
Time for some long-stewing braised pork! Check out the new gif below.
Below is a combo of my old friend Jenny’s roast pork recipe plus another recipe she sent me (photo from a book). You can generally find five-spice powder at your local Asian grocery store, or online if you don’t want to make it yourself. I’ve known Jenny longer than I haven’t, and she’s been a long-time co-conspirator for cooking tons of food to overfeed people. I’ve learned a lot from her, in cooking and life. Even though we grew up together, she’s one of my favorite role models for living courageously. Thanks a bunch for this recipe, Jenny!
3.74 lb. pork (pork shoulder or butt, bone in)
2 cups water
1 cups soy sauce (for gluten-free, use tamari sauce)
1 cup wine (sherry)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons five-spice powder*
1 large onion, diced
7 slices of ginger
1 green onion, sliced lengthwise
I needed to whip up a nice backdrop for an easy but satisfying Sunday night dinner with a treat of seared scallops.* I had turkey bacon and egg on hand, and picked up some bucatini.
This one from Nook and Pantry has been sitting at the ‘bottom’ of my Evernote recipe box for a while, since the first time I tried my hand at carbonara with pancetta my arteries could hardly take it. However, turkey bacon took some of the punch out of it (so I could swap it out for butter & olive oil for the scallops).
Pasta alla Carbonara
+Optional Turkey Downgrade
Makes 2 servings for some one trying not to gorge, but only if you pack half of it away for the next day before you start eating.
Approximately 2 slices of thick-cut turkey bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch wide strips, chopped
1 eggs, beaten
1 ounce finely grated parmesan (or pecorino romano)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces bucatini
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Likelihood of Repeat: 85%
The richness is definitely toned down with turkey bacon rather than pancetta, decide for yourself if you want that or not, of course..
Lesson Learned: How did I go so long without cooking bucatini all the time? The hollow noodles give the perfect al dente chewiness! Nom nom nom nom nom. This blends well with seared scallops, too. Due to the speedy timing, it’s definitely best to have everything else you want to eat ready before you sear scallops the Alton Way.
*I recently became allergic to some shellfish. The great news is, the allergist said to keep eating scallops regularly, to help prevent my body from identifying it as a foreign body. Most enjoyable medical advice worth following, ever!
I’ve made several different sets of this since the first time I shared this recipe (click here for the first post on it), and both settled on a preferred base of ingredients, and eaten enough of them to stop making them for a while (what, about a month of eating them every weekday is not enough?) I have put in my additional updates in blue font below.
Chardegg Cakes for Breakf*st
*So fast you can eat it while you run out the door and skip the ‘a’.
Original inspiration from: Paleo Living Magazine‘s Paleo Kale and Chives Egg Muffins + I Breathe I’m Hungry’s Swiss Chard & Ricotta Pie.
1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup chard, finely chopped (or whatever palatable veggie you have on hand such as kale, finely-diced broccoli, zucchini, etc).
1/4 c onions, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices very thinly cut deli ham,
or plus coconut oil to grease cupcake cups
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Sauté onions 4 minutes on medium, add garlic (optional), fry 1 minute more until garlic is golden.
2. Grease 6 cupcake molds with coconut oil, line thinly with half a ham slice in each cup.
3. Whisk together eggs, almond milk, chard, and onion-garlic mix.
4. Filled 6 cups with mixture, top with one tomato slice each.
5. Bake 30 minutes, then pop out egg cups to eat for the week.
Storage Note: if you make a double portion, these also freeze for a pretty decent breakfast later (defrost the day before you want to eat them). If you are a toaster oven devotee, you can pop them in to toast and it crisps them right up.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 4 of 5 stars.
The is the second round, I may update if I find the ham was even better (or maybe tasted more virtuous to eat than turkey bacon, which may or may not be better for you than using prosciutto).
Likelihood of Repeat: 98%
This has been a household hit too, increasing the chances of repeat. It’s also so portable and satisfyingly filling!
Lesson Learned: Just always oil the pan, otherwise you’ll be scraping forever and ruining the finish on your cupcake mold. Also, they are so much prettier with tomato slices on top (and the egg rises through it when baked, neato).
I feel like using thinly sliced ham is both less fattening than prosciutto and less of a waste of prosciutto (and less tedious than pressing sausage into the molds).
I was going to save this one, but it’s so sunny today I thought you might like a novel brunch idea: from Macheesmo (one of the most entertaining blog names ever)!
2 medium Yukon potatoes, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
My hash browns didn’t turn out quite as pretty as Macheesmo’s, so if you want to do this, I recommend you follow the link to get his wording on steps (and beautiful pictures).
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars.
Quite a novel method for hash browns..
Likelihood of Repeat: 45%
Not sure this would turn out that much better than just frying them on a pan, but then again, I found the most tedious part to be shredding the potato, which you’d end up doing either way.
Lesson learned: Potato was a little sticky on the waffle iron, so next time I’d use a spray to get oil on rather than a pastry brush.
Stay tuned for notes on some improvements I’ve made on the chard egg cupcakes from before!
Last week was the lunar new year. Happy year of the sheep, friends!
My spouse and I had a few friends over to make and eat pot stickers. My parents used to do this when I was a kid, back in the day when frozen pot stickers were not readily available in Asian groceries in the Midwest. Making these on your own turns tedious and feels unrewarding fast, but getting a bunch of people together to take turns at it and eat them together is much more fun. Turns out when you get a handful of adult friends in on it, they get kind of competitive with the folding. We wrapped about twice as many as we were able to eat that night!
Without further ado, a recipe from my lifelong friend Jenny. It was nice that even though she couldn’t make it, her recipe was still there to help. I doubled it and split the difference between cabbage and spinach-based filling –but it’s not worth bothering with that.
Fried Dumplings (a.k.a. Pot Stickers)
1. Place 5 cups of cabbage in a large bowl. Add 1T salt and mix. Let stand
for 1 hour to de-hydrate and soften the cabbage a bit. Squeeze out excess
water from cabbage. If using spinach, drain and wring out as much as possible.
2. Combine cabbage, ground meat with 1 egg, 2T soy sauce, 3T sesame oil,
chopped scallion, minced ginger, 1/2t ground pepper and 2T cornstarch. Stir
and mix the content. Add more cornstarch if the mixture seems loose.
3. Place 2T packed filling in the center of each wrapper. Wet the edge with
water, and then fold over to make a half-moon shape. Pinch edge together to
form small peaks along the round edge using the thumb and index finger of
4. Spread out 2T of cooking oil on a large frying pan. Set stove at medium
high heat. Arrange dumplings tightly but not overlapping. SautÈ until
bottoms are golden (3-5 minutes, depending on how many you put in). Add 3/4-1C water (depends on pan, 1/8″ deep). Cover and cook until water has
evaporated (bout 8-10 minutes). Place a serving plate over the pan and invert
the pan quickly.
5. Serve with dumpling sauce.
Storage tip: you can freeze the raw pot stickers after wrapping, being careful to let them freeze on a dish lightly dusted with flour to prevent them from freezing in one clump, then cook as usual plus a couple minutes.
Yes, i made two attempts at gluten-free pot sticker skins with varying result. One: per Broke Ass Gourmet‘s recommendation for rice paper wrappers. A second: per Food and Wine‘s recipe for from-scratch wrappers. I was lazy and used only Pamela’s gluten-free flour mix, no rice flour. If I tried it again I might try it with rice flour and egg and/or xantham gum.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5 stars.
The base recipe is best, it’s not even worth trying to get fancy since the starting point is so good. The novelty lies in the fact I only bother trying it out around once a year or so.
Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
Lesson learned: Rice wrappers are even more sticky and frustrating to use as pot sticker wrappers than for summer rolls.
Also: “these aren’t meatballs, they’re naked pot stickers.” That’s what you’ll hear if you roll leftover filling into balls, bake them at 350 until they are sufficiently crisp and reach safe eating temp of 160, and serve them. The meatballs turn out pretty darn salty too.
So first I must say I first had this from my sis Y_________. It was so good when she made it twice for me. So I had to ask her for the recipe because I needed a good main dish for a dinner/date I was making. Need something good to impress lol. The Parmesan Crusted Chicken was the main. Then Oven-Roasted Asparagus and just a normal salad on the side and Riesling for drinks.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves –if from frozen, try and cut thinner so the chicken is not too thick to cook in 30 minutes (shouldn’t be more than two finger-widths thick).
4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs + dry herbs), or however much you need to cover one side of chicken
optional: a little salt & pepper
Combine mayo and cheese. Spread on chicken, then sprinkle with bread crumbs, salt & pepper. Bake at 425 degrees (F), 20-35 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, usually 30 minutes, at least. Safe temp for chicken to be cooked to is 160F.
For reheating: bake at 425 degrees for about 5-8 minutes until you know it’s heated through, then broil on high for 1 minute to obtain slightly crispy exterior.
Can also freeze raw and bake 20-27 minutes plus broil.
Trying to impress I decided to prep some of the ingredients before I headed over to her place to make the food. Also she is a bit of a health food person so I decided to use light hellman’s mayo and just let her know it was a white sauce. Also I was able to pick the chicken from Whole Foods, some free range chicken from the meats section.
Being the person I am I happen to forget the dry bread crumbs. So I decided to improvise and use her Italian seasoning and rosemary. Lots of rosemary, ’cause I just love that spice and just bit of sea salt and pepper.
She had a gas oven and it only took 15 mins to cook. It was not raw but cooked enough and just juicy and good.
Oven-Roasted Asparagus (allrecipes.com)
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
I did not do much making the asparagus. This was her side. We were able to just put it in when the chicken was still cooking because it was the same temp.
Spinach with Mixed Greens
The salad -nothing really to it. I kind of just picked random ingredients and put them in the salad. Also I just put the walnuts on the stove top and put them on top of the salad. The balsamic was a good choice, surprisingly. I don’t really know much about salads but we both liked it.
Overall this meal was great. It did impress. So MISSION ACCOMPLISHED lol. Also forgot we had a Riesling for drinks. This is something that I would repeat for sure. Easy, fast and good. Would maybe pick another random side to mix it up though. Keep in mind the chicken says to use 4 breasts. It was too much for 2 people but leftovers for lunch, so, not that bad.
Wish I took more pictures but didn’t want to seem to be that person yet.
Another time for me to cook to impress. Instead of going out to brunch we decided to make food instead. I was able to find a there Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes that just sounded great to make. For sides we decided to have some cut oranges, bacon and orange mango juice.
Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed
Place the rolled oats into the jar of a blender and blend until the texture resembles coarse flour. Whisk together the blended oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, dry milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed banana. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
First off when we walked over to Wedge, my phone died and I had to go off memory what we needed. I had to alter the recipe a bit. I didn’t add the dry milk powder and switch the whole wheat flour with just all-purpose flour. Also we added 2 ripe bananas instead of just one. Made it so much better.
After getting the batter prepared I do wish I read the other comments because we could have just mixed everything in the blender instead of using so many bowls that needed to be cleaned. Also this makes a ton of pancakes. We only made 4 pancakes and half the batter was still left.
What I do love about the recipe is that you mash the bananas in the mix and you can taste gooey banana parts in some bites of the pancakes. Also used real maple syrup. Makes it just so much better
Bacon was just fried and dried to crisp and we just cut up oranges.
Again this meal did impress yet again. MISSON SUCCESS!!
I would like to do these pancakes again but in a blender. I bet it would be a lot faster and easier. Also maybe with eggs and bacon and fruit. Good stuff.
That’s it for now. Thanks, Alex! Stay tuned for another recipe from another J_____ brother, coming soon!
P.S. This parmesan-crusted chicken recipe was originally from my friend good Jennifer from grad school, who got it off a *gasp* Hellman’s Mayo jar. Thanks, Jennifer!
P.P.S. Bonus points to Alex for cooking the other dish at the same time due to same temp requirements.