Who's Hungry?

I'm going to deviate a bit from my usual entries and talk food. Some people have blogs on fashion, beauty or fitness, but one of my passions and favorite hobbies is cooking. I could probably maintain a decent blog with all the experimenting and new dishes I do from time to time. Plus, I've got a small collection of fail-safe recipes that I think some of you might like to try, either for beginner cooks or just as an easy way to mix up your dinner menu.

One of the things I'm best at is straying from the recipe adlibbing. I am so not one of those people that follows the ingredient list to a "t" or carefully shaves off the top of the cup of flour so it's exactly one cup. If I don't have a certain seasoning, I substitute something else I like (and that I do have) or add or take away veggies or alter the amounts called for. It makes the recipe more "mine" and less "cookbook."

I used to watch Rachael Ray religiously, I love her show 30 Minute Meals. Some people have mixed feelings about her, but I think she's genius. Cooking needs to be on an accessible level, anyone can do it and they can do it their way. Some prefer traditional cooking methods, strict recipes or hoity toity complicated dishes, while others (like myself) need foods that are commonplace, tasty and relatively easy to make. I don't have hours of prep time to invest in my dinner! Many of the things I've learned over the past few years have been through Ray's TV shows and her cookbooks, of which I proudly own several. And while on the subject of RR, she's also got a great magazine, Everyday, that is chock full of handy recipes, tips, techniques, products, travel info and even a little fashion.

Check out the website (rachaelraymag.com) to get plenty of the good stuff right there online, including recipes. And her home site (rachaelray.com) has new 30 minute meals added every week, plus a blog and all kinds of fun toys. You can find creative recipes or simple, easy dishes based on what you're in the mood to cook. Or you can just use them to get inspired to make your own concoction, like I do! Better yet, if you're overdue for a trip to the grocery store but you've got a spattering of random ingredients you want to use, go to this website, supercook.com, and enter in the foods you have on hand. Then voila! It gives you a list of recipes you can make right then!

But now to the good stuff. Here's some of my favorite personalized recipes that are fast and easy. And remember, don't let the recipe intimidate you... add your own ingredients, leave out stuff you don't like and make it your own. I'd love to know what you think if you try them! Have any recipes of your own to share? Leave them in the comment box! Happy eating!

2 lbs. lean ground beef
Worcestshire sauce
1 bottle of beer (Mexican beer is best, but can use any light beer)
2 cans Rotel, any kind
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
2 cans corn, drained & rinsed
Chopped pepperocinis (optional)
Chopped jalapenos (optional)
1 medium chopped onion, red or white (optional)
1-3 teaspoons garlic granules, OR 2-3 chopped or whole garlic cloves
Couple dashes of hot sauce, your choice
Couple spoonsfuls of your favorite salsa
Salt and pepper to taste (I like use to Lawry's seasoning salt)

Brown the beef in a large pot with a few dashes of extra virgin olive oil and a couple dashes of Worcestshire sauce. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Once brown and fat is drained, add remaining ingredients. Simmer on stovetop for about 20 minutes until liquid has reduced and thickened just a little. Top with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

These make a great addition to appetizer foods or a crackers, meat and cheese meal. They'll fool everyone into thinking you spent days getting them just right!

Combine 1 cup of pickled/bottled garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon of Cajun or spicy seasoning mix (can even be grill seasoning). Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss well. Add a little cracked sea salt and pepper if desired. Zap in microwave for about 20 seconds (the heat infuses the flavour) and serve.

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped garlic (you can buy this already chopped in a jar!)
Salt & pepper
1 small chopped red onion (optional)
Chopped pepperocinis (optional)
Chopped olives (optional)
Quartered tomatoes (optional)
Half bag of salad, your choice, thought Romaine is best

Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl then add desired amount of salt and pepper. Heat in microwave for 10-15 seconds to infuse the flavour. Then stir in feta cheese. Add all other ingredients to salad, then pour in dressing and toss. If the dressing is not enough to coat the lettuce, drizzle in a little more olive oil as needed.

This is a heartwarming dish that's great for large dinners and is best accompanied by corn on the cob or green bean casserole!

1 package of Hillshire Farms beef sausage (can use lean turkey sausage as well)
8-10 small red potatoes, boiled with skins on, firm enough to cut into quarters
3 small Red Delicious apples, cored and sliced
2 small onions, sliced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Lawry's seasoning salt
Ground black pepper
Dried herbs, like italian mix or parsley

Slice up sausage width-wise into small round pieces and add to a heated pan drizzled with olive oil. Toss in Lawry's, pepper and herbs to season to taste. Cook sausage just long enough to get a bit of chargrilled black on some pieces. While sausage is cooking, combine apple cider vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Taste test with finger and if still too bitter, add a little more sugar. (It should be a bit more sweet than bitter.) In a separate sautee pan, add sliced apples and onions, 1/2 of the the vinegar/sugar mixture and seasoning salt and pepper to taste. Cover with foil or a lid and let simmer on low until apples are tender. In sausage pan, once sausage is cooked, add the quartered potatoes to the sausage. Pour over the remaining vinegar/sugar mixture and cover with foil or a lid as well, to keep in moisture. It should be on medium-low heat. Once apples and onions are ready, pour the entire pan into the sausage and potatoes and mix well. Top with an additional scattering of herbs and serve.

1 comment:

  1. I can say the recipes Amber used here were FANTASTIC!!! She served these recently for us and they were DELICIOUS! It is encouraging to know you can substitute here & there & it STILL turn out great! I am learning a lot from my daughter!


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