When I was a little boy, my grandmother used to make “American Chop Suey”, which was basically ground beef, tomato sauce, and pasta. Maybe some chopped onion, but definitely no herbs or spices or anything else. Sometimes the pasta was spaghetti, broken into small pieces, sometimes it was macaroni. Seems like the name “American Chop Suey” is a New England thing, because other people I know in other parts of the country call this same dish “Goulash” or even just “Macaroni and Beef”.
Sam The Cooking Guy, one of the cooking channels I regularly watch on YouTube, recently made his own improved version which he called “Homemade Hamburger Helper”, so I gave it a try and absolutely loved it. The significant change is the addition of Italian sausage meat along with the ground beef. Sam being Sam, though, he also adds onion, garlic, cheese, and a diced poblano pepper, which brought a good bit of peppery heat. Definitely not the bland dish Grammy used to make for me. Sam’s recipe would easily feed 8-10 people, so I cut it in half and ate oe half of that the first night and the other half as a leftover the next night.
Bridget made what she calls “Onion Pie” for dinner a couple of nights ago. It’s essentially a quiche with Vidalia onions, bacon, and cheddar cheese. She used a frozen pie shell, so there was almost no actual cooking involved other than preparing the bacon. She also makes a very similar dish that is a tart with eggs, leeks, pancetta, and Gruyere; this one is a big eggier, but uses ingrredients you’re more likely to have in the fridge, so you can just throw it together for a light dinner.
Chicken cacciatore is a favorite of mine, but I don’t make it very often because the wife and daughter do not eat it. My wife doesn’t like meat of any kind, and my daughter is fussy about anything with bones in it. So this was a rare opportunity for me to enjoy it. In addition to peppers and onions, I like to include mushrooms and sliced black olives, which are also ingredients that I am the only fan of in this household. *SIGH*
Just a quick Sunday night dinner. The pasta carbonara recipe I use originally came from Emeril Lagasse, and makes for a great meal with very little effort. I prefer to use fettucine, but we didn’t have any on hand. Plus, I had some leftover spinach in the fridge, so I sauteed it with the bacon and garlic. I keep meaning to get some guanciale from the cheese shop, but have yet to remember to do so when we’re actually there.
The skillet was still a little too warm when I added the eggs, so there were a few scrambled bits, but not too much. The spaghetti does not hold the sauce nearly as well as fettucine, so it was not quite as silky as one might like. But, since the alternative was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, this was fine for a low-key dinner.
This picture popped up in my Facebook memories today. Considering the time frame, I’m guessing the brisket (and probably the veg, as well) was left over from St. Patrick’s Day. I only vaguely remember making this, and probably would not have were it not for Facebook.
When I was growing up, my mother occasionally made “New England Boiled Dinner”, which was a corned beef brisket that she cooked in a pressure cooker, along with potatoes, carrots, turnip, and cabbage. I always hated it. It was bland and smelled funny. Also, my mother usually used the point cut of the brisket, which is just fatty and gross.
I rediscovered brisket on my own many years later. I neveer make “boiled dinner”, though. I like to do a slow braise, and have several different recipes I use as the mood strikes. One of my favorites has orange peel, tomatoes, whie wine, and spring onions. But I also make one that’s really just beef stock and ketchup, and it’s almost as good.
Like all stews and braises, braised brisket is better the next day, and even about a week after the fact, this was really good as a leftover, cut up and pan fried into hash and served with a fried egg.
My friends in my Facebook group and I have been undertaking a Jello Salad Cookoff consisting of making recipes from various Southern church cookbooks from the 1920s-1950s. This was my contribution, a recipe from 1923 called “Health Salad”. It is essentially a recipe for cole slaw (cabbage, carrots, celery and green pepper, with mayonnaise) held together with lemon Jello. I spent a chunk of my Sunday afternoon putting it together, let it chill overnight, and then my wife and I ate some for dinner last night.
In the realm of weird things that go into Jello salads, this one is very tame. The friend who provided the recipes has a number of these old community cookbooks that her mother and grandmother collected, and I’d say fewer than half are suited to modern tastes. My friend Tony’s recipe was a cucumber-cream cheese-lime Jello concoction that turned out in an alarming shade of green, but he reports it was also edible. Still waiting to see what others come up with.
To be honest, I was surprised this actually gelled up a well as it did, because as I was adding the shredded veggies to the gelatin, I was sure it would not. We shot a little video of the unmolding, but my WordPress plan doesn’t let me post videos. Cutting into it to serve, it lost all structural integrity and reverted back to being your aveage scoop of cole slaw on the plate. It tasted just fine, with only the slightest of lemon flavor in the background and a barely detectable textural note of gelatin. I’m not a big fan of cole slaw in the first place, but my wife loves it, and we agreed we would eat the rest of the salad.
Can’t decide if I like this photo or not. Winter is winding up here in Massachusetts, and I hadn’t made French onion soup yet, so I figured I needed to do that. Our daughter was home for Spring Break last week, so we made dinner a couple of times. French onion soup is one of the lowest-efffort meals I can think of, but is always very satisfying and delicious. A friend asked me if I used brandy or stout in my soup. If I have brandy on hand, I’ll use that, but have never actually tried making it with stout. I would think it would add too much bitterness. I didn’t have any brandy last week, so used some leftover red wine, which was entirely suitable.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had several days with temps in the 50s and 60s, including today. I’m not quite ready to start grilling yet, especially since there’s a snowstorm coming on Friday, but grilling season will be upon us soon.
I’m not an avid griller like my friend Tony, and we couldn’t even have a grill for several years when we lived in a second-floor apartment, but it’s a nice change from stovetop cooking, particularly in the hot weather. Last summer for my birthday, Bridget got me a steel grilling plate so the grill can be used like a flat-top. Every time I watch Sam The Cooking Guy on YouTube, I am envious of his outdoor flat-top for all sorts of high-heat, high-surface area things.
I had half of a supermarket rotisserie chicken in the fridge, so I decided to make chicken pot pie with it. We didn’t have any puff pastry on hand, so I made biscuit dough and did a biscuit top instead. I used a drop biscuit recipe I found years ago on Allrecipes.com. It’s fast and easy, doesn’t require rolling out or cutting the dough, and produces a very consistent product.
In addition to the leftover chicken, I diced up a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, and used up some partial onions that were in the fridge. You sweat all of that in a skillet until the onions and celery are soft, then sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour over the veg. Let the flour cook for a minute or so, then add two cups of chicken stock and whisk to incorporate the flour into the stock. I also used a teaspoon of “Better Than Boullion” chicken flavoring to boot the flavor a little. For seasoning, I used about a teaspoon each of thyme, rosemary and dried sage, plus salt and pepper to taste. Depending on how thick you want the sauce, you can also dissolve a teaspoon of conrstarch into a tablespoon of water and add that. Let that all simmer for a bit, then pour into your baking dish or casserole, and top with the biscuit dough. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 10-12 minutes until the biscuits are cooked through and lightly browned.
This was all just stuff I had on hand in the kitchen, and other than getting the measurements for the biscuit dough, doesn’t even really count as a recipe in my book. It’s just something I can whiz up on my own.