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31 July 2005 @ 02:46 pm
Our family has used this recipe for years, and it’s easy to make while camping, too.

Brat ‘N’ Tater Chowder

1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 T. margarine
1/2 c. carrot, shredded
2 c. potatoes, cut into stew-sized bites
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 12-oz. pkg. polska kielbasa sausage
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 c. chopped celery
dash of Tabasco Pepper Sauce

In a 3 qt. saucepan, sauté onion and carrot in margarine until tender.
Add potatoes and broth (and celery, if desired), bring to boil, reduce heat.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender but not mushy (time varies depending on thickness of potatoes).
Slightly mash potatoes.
Stir milk and flour together in a cup or small bowl, and stir into soup.
Add sausage and peas (if not using celery), add tabasco to taste.
Cook and stir until thick and bubbly (2 minutes).

Note: Even if you don’t like spicy food, add a dash of Tabasco, as it provides a key flavor to the soup. I do not recommend using both peas and celery. I don’t care for peas much, and searched for another green vegetable to add, and found that celery compliments the flavors nicely. You can also experiment with sausage types, but we have found Polska Kielbasa to be the best.
Current Music: Tuesday Afternoon - David Lanz
29 July 2005 @ 12:13 pm
I thought I might jot down a few things I learned from my mom over the years that help reduce costs when buying groceries. A lot of it is common knowledge, but on the off chance that someone here doesn’t know it, it can really help.

~Buying bulk goods eliminates extra packaging costs and allows you to buy exactly what quantity you need. I buy all my flour, sugar, common herbs and spices, and other dry goods in bulk. Even things like nuts are significantly cheaper in bulk then when bought in brand name tins. It may require you to invest in some plastic storage containers, but it’s well worth it, and helps keep your cupboards organized.

~The Sunday paper in most areas contains the most advertising for grocery stores. In Oregon we also have the Food Day section in Wednesday’s paper with pull-out ads and coupons. My mother was the queen of coupon shopping. She would regularly save up to 20 dollars and sometimes even more on her major shopping trips (every two weeks). If you don’t get the paper, check the entryway to your grocery store, as they often have the latest ad sitting out for you to peruse.

~When using coupons, try to find stores that will accept competitor’s coupons, and use double coupons when possible to maximize your savings. A word of caution, however. Make sure that you only stock up on things that keep for a long period of time and that you will use. It’s easy to be doped into buying things that you don’t need.

~Keep and eye out for price per ounce markings on price tags. If you can’t decide which mayonnaise to get, for example, the smaller jar may cost less per ounce than the bigger one, and you could buy two with a 50 cent coupon.

~End cap displays can be a good source of good deals, but be sure to check the aisles because they can be misleading. Recently while at the store, I saw a display advertising Powerade for 88 cents a bottle. As we continued shopping, we walked down the drink aisle and to our pleasant surprise we discovered that Gatorade was being sold for 77 cents a bottle. Don't be deceived.

~Places like Sam's Club and Costco can be very helpful, but be careful as most people have the tendancy to overspend.

~Plan your meals ahead of time and make a shopping list. Don't go to the store when you're hungry.

~Vegetables and fruits are a lot cheaper when in season. Plan accordingly.

That's about all I can think of right now. If anyone has anything to add, by all means, comment away!
29 July 2005 @ 09:32 am
Quick, easy, and hard to screw up, this meal is all about that hearty goodness of Mom's home cookin'. If you keep an eye on the chicken it will come out moist and tender every time. I used bone-in skinless breasts recently on accident, but they came out just fine (they just take a little longer to cook).

Mom's Baked Chicken

3/4 c. mayonnaise
1 T. milk
1 c. Progresso Dried Italian Bread Crumbs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Grease 9 x 13 glass pan.
In a small flat bowl (big enough for a chicken breast) mix mayonnaise and milk until smooth.
Pour bread crumbs in another bowl of the same size.
Rinse chicken, coat both sides with mayonnaise, then with bread crumbs and place in pan.
Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then flip.
Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until juices run clear when cut open with a knife.

Serves 4.
28 July 2005 @ 06:32 pm
A gourmet meal that takes a little time to prepare, but it’s totally worth it. Plan on 2.5 hours start to finish, a little longer if you don’t have a good knife. Or, you could do the cutting and chopping ahead of time, in which case it would cut down 30 minutes of prep time. I’ve made this three times now, and each group of people I made it for praised it for days. A dish to impress!

Summer Pasta with Basil, Tomatoes, and Cheese

2 lbs. vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 T. fresh mint leaves, chopped
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c. olive oil (extra virgin)
1/4 c. cream sherry (not your normal cooking sherry, check your grocer’s wine aisle)
12 oz. spaghetti (I like to use spiral noodles instead)
1/2 c. grated asiago cheese
2 c. grated fontina cheese (use the larger holes on your grater)

In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes, garlic, basil, mint, salt, peppers, olive oil, and cream sherry.
Let stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally (note: the longer you leave it, the more blended the flavors will be. If you want a little more kick, shoot for 1.5 hours)
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until tender, but firm to the bite (al dente).
Drain pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Drain 1/2 c. of liquid from tomato mixture and toss with pasta.
Add cheese little by little and toss until it begins to melt.
Ass the tomato mixture, toss until mixed, and serve.

Serves 4-6.
Current Music: Ghost Story - Sting
...if only she had prepared it like this! This is the perfect side dish for a hot summer evening. Remember when picking your asparagus to get the smallest spears you can find and trim the bottom inch or so off.

Minted Lemon Asparagus

2 1/2 T. lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
1 t. dried mint (I used 1/2 t. chopped fresh mint leaves)
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed (approx. one bunch)
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese

In a small bowl mix lemon and mint, set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil.
Place asparagus in boiling water for 45 sec. (make sure to time it), then remove to a bowl of ice water (this stops the cooking process and leaves them crisp).
Drain asparagus, place on serving plate.
Drizzle lemon mixture over asparagus and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Serves 4.
Current Music: Training For Utopia - James Horner
28 July 2005 @ 06:13 pm
Wanna spice up some plain old rice? You can use just about any medium/long grain rice. Check this recipe out:

Rice Pilaf

2 T. margarine
1/2 c. sliced green onions (yellow onions work fine, too)
1 14-oz. can chicken broth
3/4 c. water
1 c. carrot, shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. rice
1/4 t. crushed dried oregano

Melt margarine in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat.
Cook carrots, onions, garlic in margarine until onions turn clear.
Stir in rice, cook 5 min., stirring occasionally.
Add broth, water, oregano and heat to boiling.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20-25 min. until rice fully cooked.

Serves 2-4.
Current Music: Now More Than Ever - Chicago
28 July 2005 @ 06:06 pm
This is a delicious side dish, that, coincidentally, came from the South Beach Diet Cookbook. Even squash haters love it! It goes well with chicken, barbecue, pretty much anything. The recipe calls for spears, but it works just as well if you quarter 1/2-in. slices. The only expensive item on the list is the cheese, which will run you 4-5 bucks a wedge, but it lasts a long time.

Nutty Summer Squash with Asiago Cheese

2 t. margarine
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 med. zucchini, cut into 3-in. spears
1 med. yellow summer squash, cut into 3-in. spears
2 T. chicken or vegetable broth
1/8 t. salt
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
1/3 c. Asiago cheese, shredded

Melt margarine in 10” skillet over medium-low heat.
Add garlic, cook 1 min. until soft.
Add squash, broth, salt, pepper.
Bring to simmer over medium heat.
Cover and simmer for 6 min., stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, but not mushy.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with nuts and cheese, serve.

Serves 4.
28 July 2005 @ 02:43 pm
I've been asked to give a lecture/lesson on barbecuing. I've got myself set up with a number of ideas (recipes, cuts of meat, sauces, etc.), but I wanted to hear from some of you. What suggestions do you have for barbecuing or grilling? Do you marinade or baste? Any good recipes? I'd love some ideas.

(x-posted to damnportlanders and my personal journal)