Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pan-Fried Pork Loin with Gravy

You are going to like this one! Buy thick lean boneless center cut pork loin in a pack of three or four. Pick a night when you have a little more time than usual, especially the first time. Total cooking time is about 40 minutes. The gravy is made right in the pan. You will need some Wondra flour and Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning sauce. DON'T USE TOO MUCH!

The first step is to sear the meat in a non-stick frying pan. It will stick a little anyway. Heat the pan and put the pork in and sear it on all sides, even the edges. It will smell wonderful! The browning and what sticks to the pan is the beginning of the gravy flavor.

When the meat has been seared all over, carefully add water to the pan and cover on med-low heat. This will be the bulk of the cooking time, adding water when needed and turning the pork. The goal is to let the meat cook and tenderize while the water takes on flavor.
Add a few drops of the Gravy Master about half way through. Just before finishing mix Wondra flour (you can use any flour but it will have lumps) with COLD water. Add slowly to the gravy.
I usually take out the meat while I thicken the gravy. It will start to bubble and thicken. Salt and Pepper to taste. When it is the color and consistancy you want, put the meat back in and get ready to serve. (If the gravy is lumpy, just pour it through a sieve)

Pizza Lunch

French Bread Pizza This is another good use of leftover sauce from making pasta. This is actually on Focaccia bread that I bought on an occasion when I did not feel like making my own. Simply spread the meat sauce over the bread add mozzarella cheese and spices, and put under the broiler. I used my stone but you can use any oven safe sheet or even heavy foil.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pan Lasagna from Pasta leftovers

This is a quick and filling dinner for a weeknight when you don't have the time or energy to fuss with food but do have a hearty appetite. Take the leftover meat sauce and mix it with the leftover pasta and heat in a small skillet. When it is good and hot, turn it down to simmer and add mozzarella cheese and Italian seasonings, cover until the cheese is melted and eat it right out of the pan. It's not really lasagna, but it sure tastes good!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Fine Breakfast

Here is another fine example of a breakfast that will get you through the day. I should have put in a fork or something to give a size reference. This is a small dessert plate. You don't want to eat so much that you're too full to start the days activities. I had leftover chicken, green beans, and rice. The hard-boiled eggs make it seem more like breakfast.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Basic Pasta with Italian Style Chicken

Tonight's menu consists of whole wheat Rotini smothered in a meaty tomato sauce with Italian Style breast of Chicken. I prepared this meal on a Sunday so I would have plenty of time. This meal will become the basis of my dinners for weekdays when time is at a premium. The leftover chicken will be tomorrow's Chicken Parmigiana, the leftover rotini and sauce will become a quick and satisfying Pan Lasagna, and the remainder of the sauce will top Home-made Pizza!

Never use jars of sauce like Prego or any other brand! They are full of chemicals and fat and junk you do not want to eat.

I like Hunt's sauce the best. I save a few cents by mixing it with a can of store brand sauce and add a can of Italian seasoned stewed tomatoes. I saute ground chicken to add to it because I need to watch fats. I don't like ground turkey, it tastes like Turkey! If I didn't have to watch fat intake so closely, I would use ground sweet Italian sausage. Just drain all the fat from it. This is a very basic sauce. You could add onion, garlic, peppers, mushrooms etc.

Chicken breasts: add a small 8 oz. can of Hunt's sauce with oregano, and basil to a 2 qt. casserole dish with the chicken breasts, cover and cook at 350 - 375 for 25 - 30 minutes.

Follow directions on the box for the rotini. It takes just a touch longer for the whole wheat pasta than for the regular semolina, but it is better for you and tastes better too. My market only has rotini and spaghetti in the whole wheat but I really like the rotini.
2 cups or half the box will make plenty with leftovers.

This is a meal that will satisfy! Sprinkle with Romano cheese and dry Italian Spices and feast. Be sure and take good care of the leftovers and they will feed you most of the week. I don't mix the sauce with the leftover pasta for storage. I put everything in it's own container.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cereal is for Snacking

In the previous blog, I recommended eating a good dinner for breakfast. Although I don't think cereal is appropriate for breakfast, at least not until some protein is eaten, I do consume mass quantities of the stuff. Honey Bunches of Oats or the store brand with Vanilla Silk (or store brand) is my ice cream. I will admit to having a hard time giving up my addiction to ice cream. My gall bladder put an end to that! The solution was a substitute addiction to Vanilla Soy Milk over a good mixed grain cereal. I first tried Silk because my Lady Friend is lactose intolerant. It was a lot better than I ever would have thought, and now I use it instead of milk. It lasts a whole lot longer in the fridge than milk and has lots of calcium and vitamins. It was the Vanilla product that hooked me. The only downside is that I have to buy regular silk for cooking. Even I can't tolerate vanilla in my mashed potatoes!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

Contrary to popular belief, most of the foods that are advertised as "what's for breakfast" are worthless. Pancakes, cereal, muffins, waffles, oatmeal, or any other sugar and fat soaked (doughnuts) concoctions are useless as fuel to begin the day. What you need to start your engine is protein coupled with some complex carbs. Here is a breakfast that is easy and uses up leftovers and will allow you to work all day without even thinking about food.

Have you ever headed out the door after a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice only to find that about 10:30 AM you suddenly feel weak and maybe a little nauseous. It is what we call a "sugar drop". The simple sugars you consumed are gone and you are "out of gas". Try scrambled eggs with chicken (one of the single breasts from the freezer), leftover vegetable (broccoli in this case), cheese, and whatever is around. Olives, mushrooms, onion, green get the idea. The main point is to add more protein to the eggs and get in some vegetables.

It all goes into one skillet and only takes a few minutes. I had to cook the chicken in this case but normally I have something already prepared. Of course, you could always make this for dinner if the mood hits you. I deliberately didn't take a picture of the finished dish because it's not that pretty to look at but who cares, you're eating alone anyway!

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Happened to the left-over Teriyaki Chicken?

It will become clear that cooking for one is not a matter of cooking less food or some sort of portion control, but actually cooking for two: you now and you later. The whole key to planning is to utilize what has already been prepared in a quick, easy, and tasty meal. There are many days that I come home with no energy, time, or patience to start some elaborate meal. This is one of my favorite meals that takes almost no effort. I gently warmed the leftover Teriyaki Chicken in the microwave and served it in the center of a fresh garden salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Teriyaki Chicken with potatoes, carrots, and broccoli,

Welcome to Solo Meals! Let's get right to it. Always deal with vegetables first so as not to cross contaminate knives, cutting board etc. The chicken is boneless, skinless breasts which come 3 in a pack. Cook 2 and put one in a zip-lock freezer bag for another meal. Trim off all fat and anything else that you wouldn't want to eat. Wash off the Salmonella and all cooking utensils including your hands!

The potatoes and carrots are washed and cooked in a large pot with water and some salt. Start these right after putting the chicken in the oven because they will take about the same amount of time. Test with a fork for tenderness. These are small new potatoes and baby carrots. I eat them skins and all. Season with olive oil or butter and salt and pepper. Italian seasoning is very good on them, as well.

Everything is prepared before anything is started. Meal Timing: The chicken goes into the preheated oven first, then start the potatoes. Wait on the broccoli until the potatoes are boiling. The broccoli is boiled or steamed in a pot. It is done when tender to the fork. The whole meal is going to take less than one hour, including prep time. Adjust the burner levels to prevent boil-overs. It is NOT a labor-intensive operation.

The chicken is cooked in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. In this instance, I seasoned it with Teriyaki sauce. This same method can be used with barbecue sauce or sesame ginger or any other marinade you can purchase. Cook covered in a 350-375 oven for about 40 minutes. Times will vary depending on how much chicken is in the dish. Many times, I am caught short and start with frozen chicken. In fact, it is sometimes more tender that way. Just give it a little more time and heat at 375.

Voila! A delicious quick and easy meal that will satisfy any hunger. All of the basic ingredients can be interchanged with other vegetables or other flavorings.

You will notice that there is enough left over for tomorrow's dinner or breakfast! Eat this in the morning and you will be good to go all day!!!!

Dinner is not complete until the coffee is brewed, and the dark chocolates with almonds are served. This serves a number of purposes; rather than go back for seconds, I look forward to the sweetness and it provides a finish to the meal. The antioxidant benefit is only found in dark chocolate. Regular milk chocolate is nothing more than candy.