Monthly Archives: January 2012

Slumgullion

Slumgullion

Years ago when my sister and I were growing up, our father would occasionally prepare dinner.  He had two “signature” dishes.  We either got creamed chipped beef on toast (aka S.O.S.) or Slumgullion.  We did not have a choice but when we knew when he was cooking dinner we hoped and we prayed that we would get the Slumgullion.

Slumgullion is a warm, beefy, tomato based macaroni noodle stew with humble roots.  Many versions of this dish have been around for seventy five plus years.  You may also know this dish as American Goulash or Slumgull.  This version comes from my father who grew up during the great depression in Omaha, Nebraska.  His family did not have much money and this is what they often served at their dinner table during those rough times.  Slumgullion is amazingly simple, tastes really good, and can be easily made with ingredients you may already have.  I sometimes substitute ground bison for the beef for a leaner dish.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2/3 c. tomato ketchup
  • 3 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 c. water
  • 8 oz. dried large elbow macaroni pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil

In large sauté pan add canola oil and onion.  Cook the onion until opaque.  Add the ground beef and cook until lightly browned.  Add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, ketchup, garlic, oregano, chili powder, water, salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.   Stirring occasionally.  Cook pasta to the manufacturers direction (about 6 minutes).  Drain.  Add macaroni pasta and simmer for about 10 more minutes.  Ladle into bowls.  Serves 4 – 5 people.

Pear Bread

Pear Bread

I cherish my weekends.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love sipping coffee, reading the paper, and doing whatever the heck I want.  In my opinion, weekends are way too short.  I never seem to finish all the things that I set out to do.  Well, early this morning I decided to make a loaf of Pear Bread to enjoy with my cup of coffee.  My Pear Bread is made with my home made Pear Sauce that I made a couple of days ago.  This bread is easy to make, has a light texture with a hint of lemon and a sweet pear flavor.  If you don’t have pear sauce, don’t despair!  Use some good quality applesauce instead.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. baking sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. pear sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab a 4″ X 8″ baking pan and grease well with non stick cooking spray.  In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the pear sauce, eggs, oil, and lemon zest.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Mix until moistened.  Do not over mix.  Add the mixture to the baking pan and bake for 1 hour or until done.  Cool on a wire rack then remove the loaf from the pan.  Makes one fabulous loaf.

Pear Sauce

Pear Sauce

The Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon is known worldwide for its wonderful pears.  Pear orchards surround our towns and much of our local economy depends on our pear crops.  There are so many varieties grown here such as comice, anjou, seckel, bosc and bartlett.  I must say that my favorite pears are the bartlett variety because they are sweet, juicy and very versatile.  I bought some local bartlett pears the other day to share at a meeting that I had hosted earlier this week.  Luckily for Bruce and I, there were three leftover…  Bruce reminded me this morning as he was heading out the door that we had some pears that were really ripe and needed to be eaten up.

Bartlett Pear

It’s been a while since I made homemade Pear Sauce.  Pear Sauce is similar to apple sauce but you use way less water in the cooking process.  The reason is that ripe pears are really juicy and when you start to cook them, the water is quickly released from the fruit.  As a result, you end may end up with pear soup rather than pear sauce.

If you have any leftover pears or if you want to try something a bit different than applesauce then by all means prepare this dish.  Makes about 2 cups.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe pears (I used Bartlett)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Begin by washing, peeling, coring and chopping your pears.  Toss all ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan.  Over medium low heat, uncovered, cook for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally.  If the pears look a bit too watery, drain some of the water off.  Remove from heat.  Using a potato masher or stick blender puree the pear mixture.  Let cool. Top with a bit of brown sugar for garnish and serve.  Makes about 2 cups.

Easy Bami Goreng

Easy Bami Goreng

Bami Goreng is an Indonesian fried noodle dish.  Quite frankly, I think that there are as many versions of this dish as there are islands in all of Indonesia.  This recipe for Bami Goreng is what I used to make for myself and friends while I was away studying at college.  My Easy Bami Goreng is ridiculously inexpensive, simple to make, and tastes wonderful.  Not to mention, when you prepare this dish, people really think that you are an exotic cook.

My Easy Bami Goreng is prepared using cheap Oriental flavored ramen noodles, fresh vegetables, garlic, Indonesian soy sauce, cilantro and  fiery sambal oelek.  That’s about it!  You can add cooked chicken, shrimp or tofu if you would like or you can even use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  The flavor combinations you can make with this dish are endless.  Makes 1 big serving. Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 package ramen noodles (Oriental flavor)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup leeks (cleaned well, white part only, thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 cup carrots (shredded or sliced into match sticks)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Indonesian soy sauce
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbs cilantro chopped plus more for garnish.
  • 1/2 tsp sambal oelek (optional and to taste)

Begin by boiling the water in a saucepan.  Cook ramen noodles for  about  2 1/2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Do not overcook.  Set aside the spice packet.  In a medium hot wok, add canola oil, onions and leeks.  Stir fry for about 2 minutes or until onions are tender, adding a bit of water if necessary.  Add the carrots, bell pepper, garlic, spice packet and sambal oelek.  Stir fry another 2 minutes.  Add the cooked ramen noodles and Indonesian soy sauce.  Cook until noodles are warmed through.  Add the cilantro.  Toss and serve.  Garnish with fresh sprigs of cilantro.  Makes one big flavorful bowl of cheap tasty noodles!

Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes

I love living in Southern Oregon.  We may not have the fanciest of restaurants like faraway places such as New York, Los Angeles or even Paris but we do have some amazing local ingredients at our fingertips.  And fresh salmon is definitely one of them.

I remember the very first time I caught a wild salmon on the Rogue River not far from my home.  The salmon that I caught was as long as my leg and it pulled so hard that it felt like I was holding onto a Volkswagen bus.  No lie.  It took me about twenty minutes (it seemed like an eternity) and all of my might to land that fish.  I will never forget that day.  I had such a great time!

Well, it has been a few years since I caught a fish that big but I know that if I want to prepare fresh salmon, all I have to do is stop by my local grocery store or butcher.  Even if salmon is not in season, I can always find a good quality frozen filet in the freezer section of my local store.

My Salmon Cakes are a wonderful representation of Southern Oregon cuisine.  They are light, flavorful and have a wonderful salmon flavor.  They are made with delicate panko bread crumbs, onion, celery, shredded carrots, herbs and spices.  You can make about 10 large (3 ounce) cakes or two dozen smaller cakes for tasty little appetizers.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound cooked flaked salmon (no bones)
  • 1 cup celery and leaves (diced fine)
  • 3/4 cup white onion (minced)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrot
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • canola oil for frying

In a nonstick fry pan, on a medium flame, cook the celery, onion, parsley, carrots, butter and Old Bay seasoning until the onions are cooked.  Let cool. In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and eggs.  Gently fold in the salmon, vegetable mixture and the panko bread crumbs.   Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Using a 3 ounce scoop, form mixture into 10 patties.  Fry patties in a small bit of canola oil in a non stick pan.  Use only a tablespoon or more of oil because you want the nonstick pan to do all the work.  Cook about 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through.  Remove from heat.  Serve with lemon wedges or your favorite dipping sauce such as tartar or cocktail sauce.

Kale and White Bean Soup

Kale and White Bean Soup

It was cold and rainy yesterday… and I was stuck at home.  I did not feel like watching TV.  I already read the paper.  And I did not feel like solving another Sudoku puzzle.  There was no doubt that I was “bored out of my gourd”.   So, later on that morning I thought it would be a good idea to make a healthy bowl of soup for lunch.  I had some beautiful blue potatoes tucked away in the back of my fridge and a bunch of gorgeous purple kale in the crisper drawer.

I had never cooked purple kale before and when I saw it at my favorite store, I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous dark color.  I just tossed it in my basket and headed straight to the check stand with my prize.  I did not have a clue what I was going to do with it, all I wanted to do was try it.  And, I’m glad that I did…  The soup tasted wonderful.

In addition to learning about cooking kale, I learned a bit about blue potatoes.  Blue potatoes are beautiful.  Blue potatoes look cool.  Blue potatoes are different and if you plan on cooking blue potatoes in a soup or stew it will eventually turn everything in your soup a funky blue color.  I figured that out today after wanting have another bowl for lunch a day after I made the soup.  I opened up the Tupperware container and was quite shocked at the color change.  The soup tasted great but the visual appeal was nonexistent.  So, word to the wise…  Unless you intend to make a dark blue soup, omit the blue potatoes.

My Kale and White Bean Soup is tasty, hearty and delightfully vegan.  It has tender bits of purple kale, potatoes, great northern beans, red bell pepper, thyme and tarragon in a savory organic vegetable stock.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups purple kale (rinsed, stems removed, chopped and packed)
  • 2 cups waxy type potato (diced)
  • 4-5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can (15 ounce) great northern beans (rinsed well and drained)
  • 1 cup onion (diced)
  • 1/3 cup red pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 dashes Maggi seasoning
  • 2 pinches white pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • chopped parsley for garnish

Begin by cooking the onion and olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat until the onion is translucent.  Add the vegetable stock, potatoes, tarragon, thyme, Maggi seasoning, and white pepper.  Cook covered for about 10-15 minutes.  Add the purple kale, beans and red onion.  Cook until the kale is tender another 20-25 minutes.  Taste the soup.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.  Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.  Makes about 2 quarts of soup.  Serves 6 -8.

 

 

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies

It’s time for me to send a care package up to my son who is away at college.  Today, I decided to make a batch of Triple Chocolate Cookies.  I started with my usual cookie dough base of flour, butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs and salt.  What makes these cookies “triple chocolate” is the addition of extra dark cocoa powder, chocolate extract and white chocolate chips.  The extra dark cocoa powder is what makes these cookies one of the most chocolatey cookies that I have ever made.  Makes about 4 dozen.  Enjoy!  Tessa

And for my son G…  You’ll get these Friday afternoon.  Be sure to check your front porch.  Love you!  Mom

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 5 Tbs EXTRA DARK cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 sticks or 1 cup  butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp chocolate extract
  • 10 oz. package white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with a silicone liner.  In a medium sized mixing bowl blend together the flour, extra dark cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  In a large mixing bowl with a mixer, cream the butter, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and chocolate extract.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and blend well.  Fold in the white chocolate chips.  Drop the dough using a teaspoon or a small cookie scoop onto the cookie sheets.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until done.  Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.  Store in a tightly covered container.   Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana Bread

I know that I am in deep trouble when I see my husband Bruce open a freezer door and something falls out.   Every time that happens I hear him say my name.  Not just Tessa but, a long drawn out Tesssaaa….!  Then I cringe.  I know what he is thinking and what he is going to say next.  I know that it is way past time to use up freezer inventory.

I opened the freezer this morning and out fell a frozen banana.  Fortunately Bruce was at work and didn’t see.  I picked my evidence off of the floor and snagged the remaining bananas from out of the freezer.  It was time for banana bread.

My Chocolate Banana Bread is easy to make and is the perfect use for bananas that need to be eaten up or have been stored in your freezer (like mine!).  It is moist, chocolatey, and has a wonderful banana flavor.  Makes 1 luscious loaf.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 RIPE bananas (peeled and mashed well)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup extra dark cocoa powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab a 4 X 8 loaf pan and spray it with non stick cooking spray.  In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and chocolate extract.  In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and extra dark cocoa powder.   Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.  Spoon the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Slice and serve.

Elk Sliders

Elk Sliders

I got a new macro lens for my camera the other day.  Waiting for FedEx to show up at my front door with my little package was like a child waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney on Christmas.  I treated myself to the lens after finishing in second place in our football pool at work.  My $40 entrance fee netted me about $220 dollars after about 17 weeks of football.  Not only did I have a great time watching football, I ended up with a really cool lens that will keep me happy for many years to come.

After some research, I ended up with a f3.5 macro lens for my Olympus E420 DSLR camera.  Wow!  The clarity is unfreakingbelievable.  I remembered that I saw an ant on my counter the other day and I knew what I had to do…  I put a drop of honey on a plate and I waited an hour or so.  The ant appeared.  Within minutes, he had his face planted in the side of the tiny drop of honey.

Crazy huh?  I can barely see this little guy with my reading glasses on!  I even got a shot of him licking his little feet.  Amazing.  I can only imagine all the fun I am going to have using this lens.

Well, back to food…  I decided to make some Elk Sliders for Bruce and I for a easy dinner today.   I enjoy preparing meals using elk meat and living in Southern Oregon, finding exotic meats such as elk, venison and buffalo is really not that hard to find.  Either you have a friend that is a hunter or you simply visit a store that carries these types of meat.  Elk meat is similar to beef and is lower in fat in comparison.  Not to mention, it tastes great too.

My easy to prepare Elk Sliders are made with ground elk meat mixed with low sodium soy sauce and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, garnished with green leaf lettuce, and a tasty relish made from tomatoes, red onions, and parsley on a buttered grilled bun.  Serve the sliders with french fries, chips or a couple slices of your favorite pickles.  Makes 6 sliders.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground elk meat (you can substitute good quality beef)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 6 mini hamburger buns or rolls
  • softened butter for the buns
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/8 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 6 small lettuce leaves

Begin by lightly mixing the elk meat, 1/4 cup Gorgonzola, low sodium soy sauce and pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Form into 6 small patties.  Refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.  Fire up your barbecue or indoor grill pan.  Place patties on medium high heat and cook approximately 3-4  minutes each side or until desired doneness.  Meanwhile, butter the rolls and grill until golden.  In a small bowl mix together the tomato, onion, parsley and pinch of salt.  Before removing the burgers from the grill toss on the remaining Gorgonzola cheese and let melt.  Place patties on buns and garnish with lettuce and the tomato onion mixture.  Serve.

Mixed Bean Soup

Mixed Bean Soup

It’s been two weeks into 2012 and I am happy to say that I am doing a fairly good job of living up to my New Year’s expectation of being less wasteful in the kitchen.  Often times when I make soup from dried beans that I purchase in those little plastic bags, I have some leftover beans.  So, I keep a jar in my cupboard just for that purpose.  I toss the leftover dried beans into the jar and I give it a gentle shake to mix them up, taking care not to break the beans.

My little jar of mixed beans is proof that cooking a great bowl of soup is not rocket science.  Every time I make my mixed bean soup, it is not exactly the same as the last time and in fact may taste a bit different than the last time I made it depending on the mixture of the beans.  I say so what and who cares?  The point is to use what you have, make it taste great and be less wasteful.

I bet you may be wondering what’s currently in my mixed bean jar?   There are some black beans, pinto beans, brown lentils, great northern beans, split peas both green and yellow, lima beans, black eyed peas, garbanzos, and red beans.  After I shot this photo, I removed 2 cups of beans from this jar for my soup and  I then tossed in some Anasazi beans and lima beans for later use.

My recipe for Mixed Bean Soup is hearty, good for you and very easy to make.  You can use whatever mixture of dried beans you have on hand or if you want, you could buy a more expensive premixed blend of beans.  My Mixed Bean Soup has Italian style tomatoes, beef stock, onions, celery, carrots, oregano, basil, cumin, and I even tossed in a bit of leftover ham that was tucked away in my fridge.  You could even make this in a slow cooker if you would like.  Just toss in all the ingredients, place on low, cover, and walk away for about 8 hours.  Cooking time may vary depending on the type of beans that you use.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried mixed beans (picked over and soaked in water overnight)
  • 2 quarts of beef stock (use more if desired)
  • 1 – 28 ounce can of Italian style crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup carrot (chopped)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped ham (optional)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • garnish with fresh chopped parsley

Place all ingredients in a large pot.  Cover, cook low and slow for about 2 hours or until beans are tender.  Stir occasionally. Be sure to taste the soup and correct your seasonings.  Dish up, garnish with parsley and serve.  Makes about 8 servings.  Can be frozen for later use.

Note: This is a really good recipe for busy college students.  It’s easy on the wallet and you can get a few good meals out of this…