Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taco Salad

We've been making this quick and easy salad for over 10 years now.

1 pound of ground beef
Taco seasoning (optional)
1 pepper (can be green, red, orange, yellow or maybe a little bit of each)-chopped
1/2 onion-chopped
2 pieces of celery-chopped
1/2-1 Tbsp of butter
1 head of lettuce-shredded
450g of cheddar cheese-shredded
1/2 large bottle of Russian salad dressing (or 1 full small bottle)
1 Bag of crushed up tortilla chips
Sour cream to top.

1. Cook up the ground beef and drain the grease. If you'd like a little bit of flavor, add in one of those small packets of Taco seasoning.
2. After chopping the pepper, onion and celery, saute them together in the butter before adding them in with the ground beef. Set aside.
3. Shred the lettuce and the cheese.
4. In a large bowl, add ground beef and vegetable mix, shredded cheese and lettuce. Mix.
5. While mixing, add in handfuls at a time of the tortilla chips to crush with the spoon. Also start adding the Russian dressing.
6. When finished, the dish will often become cold. If you wish it to be warm, just throw it on a plate and into the microwave for 20 seconds. Top it all off with a dollop of sour cream.

Note: If there is a chance of leftovers, save some chips for the following night. There's no need to use the whole bag at once. The chips will bring back the crunchy sound.

Strawberries and Cream Trifle

Mum and I took this to a Cow Pow Wow last night... not much left by the time we went home.
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 (1 ounce) package sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen reduced-fat frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared angel food cake
  • 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 3 whole fresh strawberries

  1. In a bowl, whisk the milk and water. Whisk in the pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set; fold in the whipped topping. Cut cake into 1/2-in. cubes.
  2. Spoon a third of the pudding mixture into a 4-qt. trifle or glass bowl. Top with half of the cake cubes and sliced strawberries. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining pudding mixture. Garnish with whole strawberries.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stir-fried okra

I picked up some okra at the Horton Market on the weekend. I've never tried okra before so I was curious. I found a stir-fried okra recipe on and decided to give it a try.

Here is the original recipe:

2 cups fresh okra, washed, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large tomato, peeled and sliced into 8 thin wedges
1/4 cup green onions, sliced, white and green
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon leaf thyme, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
Prepare all vegetables as indicated and have ready for cooking. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper.
Heat oil and butter in a wok or large skillet. Add vegetables and seasoning mixture all at once. Toss and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Serves 4

Now here is what I did:

I prepared the okra as directed. I didn't peel the tomato. I used diced red onion. I have all kinds of herbs and spices but couldn't find thyme anywhere. I have a funny feeling if I go back and look now it will be in the front row of my spice shelf . . . LOL . . . I added a handful of shitake mushrooms and a sliced red pepper to the pan as well. The shitake mushrooms were an excellent idea. The red pepper ended up on the side of the plate because they made the dish too sweet. I served the stir fry with low-sodium soy sauce and rice noodles and really enjoyed it (minus the peppers).

I will definitely make this recipe again.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Remembering Hot Chocolate

When my kids were little I often made hot chocolate using a homemade mix. As the kids got older and life got busier it was just one of the lovely things that went by the wayside, replaced by the convenient.

The other day I had a craving for chocolate but it was really humid out and I just didn't crave it bad enough to make me want to walk to the store. Then I remembered the tin of cocoa in the cupboard.

I had forgotten just how delicious homemade hot chocolate is. Here's the recipe I used . . .

Serves 2

2 tbsp and 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup and 2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 pinch salt
2 tbsp and 2 tsp boiling water
1-3/4 cups milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup half-and-half cream

Combine the cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn't scorch. Stir in milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 2 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of hot chocolate to cool it to drinking temperature.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Italian Meatballs

4 servings

1 tsp canola oil
1-1/2 slices whole wheat bread, stale or day-old
2 cups My Mother's Tomato Sauce (below)
40 g mortadella sausage or ham, finely chopped
1 tbsp marjoram, fresh, finely chopped
1 large egg
400 g lean ground beef
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp bread crumbs

These meatballs can be either baked in the oven or fried.  If using baking method preheat the oven to 400F and lightly oil a baking dish.  If frying, prehead peanut oil to 350F in an electric fryer or large skillet.

But the bread slices in a small bowl then cover them with water.  Let soak 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make tomato sauce.

Drain the bread well in a sieve, then squeeze it to remove most of the liquid.  Finely chop the bread and add it to a bowl.  Finely chop the mortadella and marjoram, then add them to the bowl.  Add the egg and ground beef, followed by salt and pepper.

Using your hands, blend the mixture together until it is just combined well.  Form the mixture into small balls (about the size of golf balls), then flatten them slightly and coat them with the bread crumbs.  Plan on about 3-4 meatballs per serving.

Baking:  Transfer the meatballs to the previously oiled dish, then cook in the middle of the overn 12-15 minutes until they are golden-brown, turning them once.  Deep-frying:  Working in batches, deep-fry the meatballs about 4-5 minutes per side until they are golden-brown, then set them on paper towels to drain.

Transfer the meatballs ot the pan with the tomato sauce then continue to cook 15-20 minutes over medium-low heat, turning them once.  Serve the meatballs with the sauce.

I served these yummy meatballs with pasta . . . of course . . .

These meatballs may be served at room temperature.  They are ideal for a picnic, served with a few slices of bread.

My Mother's Tomato Sauce

makes 2-1/2 cups

1-2/3 cup canned tomatoes (diced or chopped)
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 carrot, finely chopped
1/4 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

A food processor to chop the vegetables and a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time would make things easier with this recipe.

Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic.

Heat the oil and butter in the pressure cooker or in a saucepan over low heat. Add the chopped vegetables. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times; the vegetables must soften without burning. Add the diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

If you are using a pressure cooker, cover, close and bring to high pressure. Cook 15 minutes from the time it starts to spatter (Follow the manufacturer's directions to determine when high pressure has been reached. If you are not using a pressure cooker, simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

This sauce can be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Freeze larger quantities.