Hacks from my Happy Place – XXV

I know that it’s been a long while since I’ve shared anything under this theme. It is not for laziness, because I spend at least 30 minutes most days (for at least two months so far) looking for recipes. However, some of those I share these meals with have dietary restrictions – lactose intolerance, gluten-free and/or low sodium – and I’ve not been able to find too many recipes that I’d like to try that don’t include at least one of the restricted items. If a recipe meets those requirements, then I also have to see what ingredients it calls for that I don’t have and decide whether I want to invest in an ingredient for one recipe that I may not like. Added to that, I have to make them first and sample them to make sure they are worthy of my readers! So here are a few recipes I think are worth trying:

Zippy but Sweet Asian Sauce

1 tablespoon canola (or similar) oil
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1 teaspoon minced garlic)
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic to the pan, stirring while cooking for 1 minute. Stir in broth, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium low and let cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix together cornstarch and water until smooth (called a slurry). Slowly add small amounts of this mixture into the broth until desired consistency is achieved (it thickens quickly so it’s important to add this mixture slowly; you may not need it all!). Serve with cooked chicken or pork chops with a side of rice drizzled with sauce. Also consider it as the sauce to make for stir-fry meals such as beef and broccoli or chicken and snow peas. I also think it would make a nice glaze on a meatloaf for a change of pace!

Cheddar Cheese Quick Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 large egg
2 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350° Grease/spray a loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, garlic powder and salt. Stir in shredded cheese. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, egg & butter.
Add liquid ingredients to bowl of dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.
Spoon/pour into loaf pan.
Bake for 45-50 minutes. Top should be a golden brown.
Cool on wire rack. Remove loaf from pan, slice & serve.

As Good as Takeout Fried Rice

3 cups cooked white rice (day old or leftover rice works best!)
3 tablespoon sesame oil (use olive oil and add toasted sesame seeds as an alternative)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (thawed)
1 small onion, chopped
2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce
Diced or shredded cooked chicken or pork (optional but highly recommended)

On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the peas/carrots mix, onion and garlic. Stir fry until tender. Lower the heat to medium low and push the mixture off to one side, then pour your eggs on the other side of skillet and stir fry until scrambled. Now add the rice and soy sauce and blend all together well. Add optional meat. Stir fry until thoroughly heated.

I have a few other recipes which I still have to try before sharing them, but I can recommend these tried recipes if you so choose to give them a chance! Mangiare and bon Appetit!

Hacks from my Happy Place – XX

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a ‘happy place’ blog post, but I have found a new recipe that I am in love with! Technically, the recipe is for a ‘”side dish”, but after making a batch the first time, I ate a bowlful as my meal three days in a row! And the only reason I stopped was because I’d promised some to my bestie and her family, and also wanted to share some with my brother.

I guess it’s been close to three weeks since I made the first batch. A second batch is now cooling in the crock pot after being cooked. And this is a recipe that FILLS my crock pot, to the point that I have to move some of it into the center where I know the lid domes higher! I also lift the lid every hour and give it a stir, because the ‘sauce’ thins a little bit in the cooking process and looks like the pot will overflow.

Anyhow, this recipe, to me, is something I could find myself making, eating until it’s gone, and immediately making more. So I wanted to share it!

Cowboy Baked Beans

One pound ground beef. One pound bacon, cooked and crumbled. Two tbsp. bacon drippings. Three (15 oz.) cans kidney beans. Three (15 oz.) cans white beans (your choice). Three (15 oz.) cans pork and beans. Three small onions, diced. One cup light brown sugar. One cup ketchup. One-half cup molasses. Three tbsp. yellow mustard.

Since this is the second time I’ve made this, I’ll give you some extra hints… Your choice of white beans doesn’t matter, as long as you stay consistent in size with your kidney beans (in other words, don’t use the large butter beans). Any kind of molasses will work, but I chose the Black Strap kind to cut the sweetness in it. I always cut my bacon strips into pieces before frying because it takes less time. Do not overcook your bacon (I like mine extra crispy for eating) as it will continue to cook in the crock pot. I use frozen bagged diced onions and ‘eyeball’ what is equivalent to three small. This time, I put the brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, mustard and onions together in a separate bowl and mixed it well. I also filled the crock pot in layers this time, including the meats, beans and sauce.

Open and drain all three cans of kidney beans and white beans. Open and drain two of the three cans of pork and beans, leaving the sauce in one can. Assemble ingredients (use my suggestion and layer). Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours. Turn off crock pot and let cool.

This is called Cowboy Baked Beans primarily because of the ground beef. Don’t be afraid to try other meats – ground or smoked sausage for example. This is also a great dish to take for a pot luck dinner, because if there are any leftovers, you really won’t mind taking them home!