Sunday, October 4, 2009

Summer Stew (also tasty in the fall, winter, and spring)

I am reluctant to actually call this a Summer Stew as it is a very hearty dish, good for fall, winter, spring, or summer.


Serves: 4 heaping bowls or 6 regular servings
Total Time: 30 min.
  • 2 tablespoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved and chopped
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, minced
  • 1 medium/large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium/large yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can(s) cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed (see Note)
  • 2 cans diced tomato (drained)
  • 1 tablespoon(s) red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup(s) finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ lb Ham (diced)
  • ½ lb Smoked Sausage (sliced)
  1. Brown Ham and Sausage. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add zucchini, summer squash, oregano, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in beans, tomatoes and vinegar; increase heat to medium and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan.
  4. Note: While we love the convenience of canned beans, they tend to be high in sodium. Give them a good rinse before adding to a recipe to rid them of some of their sodium (up to 35 percent) or opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. (These recipes are analyzed with rinsed, regular canned beans.) Or, if you have the time, cook your own beans from scratch.

This tastes great on its own, but can be added to rice or pasta.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Secret Cajun / Creole Spice Mix

I am sure many of you have seen Emeril Lagasse give his food a giant "BAM" while tossing in some of his Essence spice mix. After trying his, and a few others, I have refined my own personal mix that I think you'll like.

Cajun / Creole Seasoning Mix

Try this recipe for a seasoning mix with a New Orleans kick. Less salt than Emeril's with more Garlic and a touch of Cumin for a little smokiness.

Wisk all ingredients together and pour into an empty spice shaker. You can take the one used for the Onion Powder, bag the powder, and rinse and dry the container.

2 TBS Paprika
3 TBS Granulated Garlic Powder
2 TBS Cayenne Pepper
1 TBS Salt
1 TBS Black Pepper
1 TBS Onion Powder
1 TBS Thyme
1 TBS Oregano
1/2 tsp Cumin

I will be posting a "Basic Kitchen Set-up" that will tell you all of the spices and gadgets you should have. For now, you could make a trip to Big Lots to buy all of the spices needed for the Cajun / Creole mix.

Also, this could make a cool little gift. Just print up a label... "Your Name's Secret Cajun/Creole Spice".

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wooing with Food

In the Pixar movie Ratatouille, the little rat Remy's inspiration is Chef Gusteau's belief that “anyone can cook” – and I am a firm believer in this philosophy!

I am also a firm believer that the way to most people's hearts is through their stomachs. When we were children, there was nothing more comforting than Mom making us anything. From chicken Italiano to a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it didn't matter, it was simply the best. But why? Because it was made with (get ready to gag) love. You know it's true. When we grow up, we often lose that sense of enjoyment from what we eat... true, maybe we go out to a nice restaurant now and then, taking someone we love (or hope to)... that can be nice. But I believe that the best food – the best way to enjoy food – is to prepare it yourself and enjoy it with people whose company you also enjoy.

“Wooing with Food” was originally intended for the men out there, who either couldn't or didn't want to cook. ‘Cause let's face it: Throughout history, women have been winning men over with their home-cooked meals. But we live in a different age – when both sexes struggle for extra time and find less energy for cooking on a regular basis – so, this blog is geared toward anyone who has ever wanted to woo someone with food.

Now, there are different woos to be wooed. In other words, you may want to woo her friends’ approval by preparing dinner for your girlfriend and a couple of her closest pals... or you may want to woo over his parents by cooking a fantastic meal... or you might simply want to cook a nice meal for two, to share a romantic night together. In any and all cases, this blog will help.

I started cooking dinner for women when I was still in high school. Then, it was just simple recipes that my Mom had been making for our family for years – and one ill-advised attempt to cook everything in red wine. Through the years, my love of cooking has continued to grow. The kitchen is a place where I find it easy to be creative. So, whether you’re a man or a woman, young or old, married or dating, put on some great music... bust out the pots and pans... and let's start wooing with food!

Oh, and to put this into “guy terms”... Chicks dig guys who can and will cook for them. It’s the best way to ensure that dinner will lead to another meal... perhaps even breakfast? ; )