Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Left Overs, Left Overs, Send TJ Right Over.

Remember the school yard game Red Rover? I was thinking of that when I was saying the words left overs. I think my husband has come a long way with food. He was never too crazy about left overs and that kind of drove me crazy because in a Trini’s mind, food is food oui, and you should not fuss when you are hungry – just eat. He has gotten more creative and the rare occasion when we have left overs, he comes up with some tasty creations. Tonight it was do something with that plain penne, left over pizza sauce and some cooked ground beef from two nights before.

It’s a simple game plan. Combine meat and pizza sauce and place in a small baking dish. Shred a little mozzarella and mix in. Lastly, top with a bit of 4 year old cheddar and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese crusts. Promise your wife you’ll only eat half the dish then break said promise because it just tastes oh, so good.

 

This pandemic has been difficult at times but it has provided us with some good laughs too. It is really cool to be able to spend more conversation time with our most current man child in his chrysalis state. He is funny, nutty, and does not come from a place of judgement. Mind you, there have been moments when sharing a space have led to some moments where we butt heads but we also have been able to talk things out and get back to a civilized place lol. We have had moments that could have been disastrous but luck was on our side – note here Tom’s singed goatee from a pizza oven incident. He didn’t know the extent of it until he wondered why he was smelling something like burnt pizza crust and realized he was actually smelling burnt beard.

    (Tom has singed body hair before. He has singed arm hair a couple times and most recently after this goatee episode.)

Back to left overs. Sometimes I don’t remember what I have bought and shoved into the freezer in the basement. My latest over purchase over the last 4 months has been cauliflower and broccoli. We have managed to use up all the broccoli and Tom, who re-organized the freezer, in his controlled frustration simply said to me,” Please do something with all this cauliflower,” So I present to you, my attempt at cauliflower fritters.

In a food processor or blender pour in about 6 cups of cauliflower florets. Once they are ground up, add 4 eggs and a 1/2 cup of flour and to keep them light and fluffy I added in a teaspoon of baking powder.

Add the seasoning of your choice. You can use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, or powdered Italian salad dressing or like me you can try buffalo-ranch powdered seasoning. I also added in a pinch of garlic powder and onion powder and sriracha powder (you know how I feel about giving food flavor). Blend it all. If it seems too wet, add in a bit more flower. The consistency should be sticky, not drippy. Cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil or any oil of your choice (I like using a monosaturated fat). Heat the oil and once it is hot enough, place a heaping table spoon of batter into the oil. Fry on oneside until golden brown then flip and repeat on the other side.

Drain on paper towels. I shredded a little 5 year old cheddar and Parmesan over them and placed them in the oven to keep warm, Served them with last night with steak, corn on the cob and garlic bread bites, to use up a couple left over hot dog buns sitting in the fridge. Of course, Adam, who has his own place and basically sees us as Skip the Dishes during this Pandemic, was upset that it was not steak frites. To give him credit, he did try the fritters – he ate one of two I served him  – left one in tact to make his point and made me promise steak frites on Monday, no variations.

Everyone else who didn’t feel the need to protest, enjoyed the fritters. They were light and tasty and went well with a tangy dip Tom made. I say choose your fave dip and enjoy.

So, in this time of pandemic lockdown, I urge you to try new things, create new recipes by using your noggin and combining ingredients that you think can work together well. But do stay safe. Try not to burn anything, cut anything or break anything. remember, no one really wants a trip to the ER in these germy times and the medical staff already have their hands full. They don’t need more work, so be kitchen and outdoor cooking careful. Stay home. Stay safe. Use up your left overs. ~Daniella and family

 

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Logan Declares it Butter Chicken Friday

Butter chicken is a good dish for Logan to learn because it is simple to make, quick, flavorful and nutritious. Since we are in a pandemic lock down it was a little difficult to get all the ingredients we needed to make the sauce. So, we had to improvise. I bought a bottle of butter chicken sauce and added to to it to enhance the flavor and to thicken it as we found to be a little too liquid. So before we get into Logan’s cooking, here is the recipe I usually use for the sauce:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups chopped onion

2 garlic cloves chopped

2 tbsp garam masala

2 tsp paprika

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups diced tomatoes

3/4 cup heavy  cream

2 tbsp butter

Chopped cilantro to garnish

Method: Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes (canned is fine) and simmer in a covered skillet for about 8 minutes. Once cooled, pour into blender and blend for a few seconds and return to skillet. Add in the cream and the seasonings and simmer for another 8 minutes. Add the seasoned cooked chicken and let it all simmer in a covered skillet for 30 minutes on medium-low heat.

Here now is Logan’s preparation:

Wash chicken breasts with water or lime (Washing chicken before we cook it is something we do as Trinidadians. If you don’t want to wash your chicken then so be it). Cut chicken into smaller pieces and put into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves and set aside.

 

Next he measured out 2 cups of Basmati rice, washed it and put in a pot with 2 1/2 cups of water and brought it to a boil. He added a couple smidgens of vegan butter to the water to help the rice stay light and fluffy as the water evaporated.

Next he put a table spoon of oil in a skillet and heated it and cooked the chicken pieces, onion and garlic. Once the chicken began to turn white, he added the bottled sauce, a pinch of salt, cumin and black pepper. He stirred in a tsp of tomato paste, a pinch of paprika, cayenne pepper and a pinch of cinnamon, just to boost the ready made sauce.

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Stir in a tablespoon of cream, cover the skillet and let it simmer for about 20 minutes on Medium – low heat.

Once the chicken was thoroughly cooked and tender, Logan garnished with chopped green onion as we didn’t have cilantro. Pandemic lock downs force us to be creative and improvise but that’s okay because the most important things are that the chicken is properly cooked and the meal is tasty. The butter chicken smelled like Heaven making us all very hungry indeed and when we tried it, it tasted even better than it smelled.

Serve Indian Butter Chicken over rice or with naan bread and enjoy.  Stay home. Teach your teen to cook. Stay safe and bon appetit.  ~Daniella and family.

 

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Logan Declares it Butter Chicken Friday

Butter chicken is a good dish for Logan to learn because it is simple to make, quick, flavorful and nutritious. Since we are in a pandemic lock down it was a little difficult to get all the ingredients we needed to make the sauce. So, we had to improvise. I bought a bottle of butter chicken sauce and added to to it to enhance the flavor and to thicken it as we found to be a little too liquid. So before we get into Logan’s cooking, here is the recipe I usually use for the sauce:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups chopped onion

2 garlic cloves chopped

2 tbsp garam masala

2 tsp paprika

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tsp kosher salt

2 cups diced tomatoes

3/4 cup heavy  cream

2 tbsp butter

Chopped cilantro to garnish

Method: Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes (canned is fine) and simmer in a covered skillet for about 8 minutes. Once cooled, pour into blender and blend for a few seconds and return to skillet. Add in the cream and the seasonings and simmer for another 8 minutes. Add the seasoned cooked chicken and let it all simmer in a covered skillet for 30 minutes on medium-low heat.

Here now is Logan’s preparation:

Wash chicken breasts with water or lime (Washing chicken before we cook it is something we do as Trinidadians. If you don’t want to wash your chicken then so be it). Cut chicken into smaller pieces and put into a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of onion and 2 chopped garlic cloves and set aside.

 

Next he measured out 2 cups of Basmati rice, washed it and put in a pot with 2 1/2 cups of water and brought it to a boil. He added a couple smidgens of vegan butter to the water to help the rice stay light and fluffy as the water evaporated.

Next he put a table spoon of oil in a skillet and heated it and cooked the chicken pieces, onion and garlic. Once the chicken began to turn white, he added the bottled sauce, a pinch of salt, cumin and black pepper. He stirred in a tsp of tomato paste, a pinch of paprika, cayenne pepper and a pinch of cinnamon, just to boost the ready made sauce.

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Stir in a tablespoon of cream, cover the skillet and let it simmer for about 20 minutes on Medium – low heat.

Once the chicken was thoroughly cooked and tender, Logan garnished with chopped green onion as we didn’t have cilantro. Pandemic lock downs force us to be creative and improvise but that’s okay because the most important things are that the chicken is properly cooked and the meal is tasty. The butter chicken smelled like Heaven making us all very hungry indeed and when we tried it, it tasted even better than it smelled.

Serve Indian Butter Chicken over rice or with naan bread and enjoy.  Stay home. Teach your teen to cook. Stay safe and bon appetit.  ~Daniella and family.

 

Cooking in the time of COVID-19: And then …Tom made Smash Burgers

 

My husband wasn’t taught to cook, do his laundry or iron his clothes before he left home for University. When I met him, he had figured out washing colours and whites separately and when to wash in hot water and when to wash in cold. When it came to food, he ate like a student — Kraft Dinner, cereal, fast food (subs, hamburgers, hot dogs) and he lived in a condo building above a Taco Bell. Tom ate there so much that he earned himself a hat and t-shirt from the restaurant. The more I got to know him, I learned that instead of trying to diversify his palette, his parents pretty much gave in to him at meal time and proceeded to draw attention to his fussy eating habits at the table in front of their friends and in my presence as well, even though he was an adult. I always felt what they were doing was disrespectful and cruel and I was concerned that he would not be comfortable around my family at mealtime. I am a Trinidadian and my culture revolves around food. We are all about cooking and enjoying a variety of food and flavors and I was not about to dull down my cooking to accommodate his basic palette but try and introduce new flavors to him, slowly and comfortably. In Tom’s defense, he didn’t grow up eating flavorful food. Back when we would eat at his parents’ home, my mother-in-law’s food was not terrible but she certainly is a salt and pepper only cook. To quote my husband, his “DNA was screaming for something different” and so, he chose to be with me. Wow! On so many levels other than cuisine, that was quite the avant garde move for him. He chose a a Heinz 57 wife, fathered two Heinz 57 sons, and not only eats all kinds of food, he makes a repertoire of meals that are as flavourful and spicy (sometimes spicier) as anything I would cook. I made it clear to my family that he was not to be singled out at the table. I did not tolerate any verbal Trini observations about his uncertainty around our food and my family and I never forced him to try different foods and flavours in our early years together. As time went by and a trip to Trinidad at Carnival occurred, Tom tried many different kinds of food. My husband, the son of a salt and pepper cook, eats doubles, roti, pelau, callaloo, curried everything, roast beef, Jamaican patties, samosas, a variety of Italian food, fried rice, Oriental styled chicken and beef and Korean food, thus ending the running “joke” of the little boy who only ate peanut butter sandwiches and hamburgers. And while he is not versed in what are my staple Trini dishes, the food he does make are his signature meals and he keeps adding to his menu every two to three months. Not only does he cook a variety of things, he has now added kitchen gadgets to the other gadgets out there that interest him. Tom is a reader and a researcher and not only can he build his own computers, brew his own beer and dabble in making his own music, the man has purchased some tools to help him cook what he knows well and try new creations as well. It is with great pride that I add Tom’s recipes to my Cooking in a time of COVID-19 Blog Series.

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When the kids were little, Tom made eating fun for them. Not wanting them to be picky like him, he not only made tasty and nutritious food, he made food fun and bestowed zany names upon everything he made for them. I remember picking up Logan from Kung Fu and Adam from somewhere else and asking them what Daddy made them for dinner. I was also giving a co-worker a ride home and she was appreciating their answer as much as I was when they both said, “Crabby Patty Explosions” with salad. They were big Sponge Bob fans at the time and Tom stole the name of the burger on the show, made their burgers with thick patties, melted cheese and a slosh of ketchup that went not only on the burger but smeared onto the plate much like if the burger exploded. He kept the top bun off and made putting the lid on the burger the boys’ job. That was just one of the many kookie meals he made for them when I was not home to cook. Adam ( albeit autistic ) and Logan ate pretty much everything we made for them and still do. Now young men, the Crabby Patty Explosion no longer exists but in honour of the important role this Daddy made burger had in their mealtimes, I give you my husband’s delicious-as-all-get-out, Smash Burgers.

As we entered our period of isolation because of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, we realized we had more than enough food for our meals. Happy that this would cut down the time we spent in public, we started cooking food pledging to use everything we had and substituting ingredients wherever we could. This also allowed us to keeping an on going list of grocery items until we ran out of until it was a long enough list to warrant a shopping trip. Just before the isolation period came into effect, Tom had ordered another gadget he had his eye on that is now an integral part of our cooking adventures.

To make smash burgers, you need regular sized hamburger buns because you don’t excess bread that will fill you up too quickly and prevent you from thoroughly enjoying every crumb of this burger. You will need 8 strips of lean bacon and about a pound and a quarter of medium ground beef (Tom uses a scale as he is a more precise cook than I am).

We get our meat from a local butcher and they taught us over the years that you need a little bit of fat in the meat in order to make a good burger. For those of you are afraid of what I just said, all I can tell you is exercise before you eat your food. get your quota of movement to balance your quota of food intake, okay? Okay, next…get your toppings ready. Sometimes we use tomatoes and mushrooms or peppers, but in keeping with our isolation rule of using all that we have before going out to shop, we just had onions and American cheddar slices. Next, form the ground beef into mid sized balls. Tom puts 2 patties on a bun so he makes a total of 8 to feed us. Tom has also made his own burger sauce which really gives the burger that Mom and Pop burger joint taste.

Mix a bit of ketchup, mustard, relish and mayonnaise and set aside to spread onto the burger buns later. Tom makes a jar of sauce. He stores in it the fridge in a small, sanitized former Smuckers jam jar for future burger use. As with anything in cooking keep adding the ingredients gradually, mixing them and tasting to ensure good flavor. Oh, another thing to remember, if you are serving fries with your meal, you have to decide how to time that out so that they are ready to be served with your burgers. We use a Tefal Air “Fryer” that takes about 25 minutes to make the fries. We also don’t use the recommended table spoon of oil when cooking with it as you really don’t need to. The surface of the pan is non stick, easy to clean and it can cook anything from fries to chicken and anything you would ordinarily fry in oil. It can even cook vegetables if you want it to. By not needing oil you get healthier prepared fries that are just as tasty and crispy as those fried in oil.

 

We now use a Blackstone propane griddle and really enjoy cooking everything on it at the same time. When you have a hungry 17 and 20 year old to feed, you want things done quickly and efficiently so that you can keep the hunger beasts that live within them at bay. The griddle is one stop tasty cooking because it allows us to adjust the heat on parts of the grill to accommodate what we are cooking. If you want to try this and you don’t have a griddle (or crazy husband who will wear a coat and set this thing up in the garage because smash burgers can’t wait until spring) you can certainly use a frying pan on a stove top and toast your buns in the oven or a toaster. You can also cook your bacon in the microwave to utilize your time well.

First, Tom toasts the buns and fries the bacon and sets them aside before the real fun begins.

 

The heat is equalized across the grill and the meat balls are equally spread across the surface. After they sear for about 20 seconds, the balls are ready to be smashed (he he he).

Add salt and pepper and let continue to cook for another 30 secsonds. Look at the juiciness of the burger and the crust that forms on the surface that traps the flavor in the meat. Flip the burger and cook the other side for about a minute. The grill is hot and the meat is pressed thin so it will cook fast so be careful not to over cook or burn. Top with cheese and allow to melt.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, I spread the burger sauce on the buns.

Tom placed the burgers on the tray and brought them into the kitchen where we topped with bacon, onion rings and the buns with the burger sauce. We added the fries to the plate and served another quick and tasty lunch on another isolation day. Our time together at the table was not very long but we did manage to exchange a few words between moans of sheer delicious delight. I’m not sure I will ever eat a burger from a restaurant again. This burger was just too damn good. It was the right flavor, the perfect size and it was made in a clean environment and made out of love. With lunch devoured, digested and done, we looked towards dinner. My turn again hmmm…I’m thinking Trinidad stewed chicken and pigeon peas with macaroni pie. That should make them smile.

Feel free to try this and share your recipes as well. I like to think the more we share ideas and use the time to cook and create, the easier this time of home isolation might be. Stay healthy, stay home and try and enjoy your time at home.

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Baking an Old Favourite from the Naparima Girls School Cook Book.

You know a recipe is a well loved tradition in your family when the page of the cookbook you are using is stained  and kind of crispy and a little yellowed.

  I am not sure if this is still a thing, with technology being so easy but I don’t know a Trini cook who does not own a Naparima Girls High School Cookbook. I have the edition with the bright pink cover and I know there was another fancier edition since then but I am in love with the one I have so I never felt the need to upgrade.

    Whenever I doubt myself about a recipe and I can’t get a hold of my mother, I refer to this book. Before the internet and when the only way to get anything on line was by e mail, I referred to this book. When the kids were toddlers and I wanted to cook for them using recipes from home, I used this book. I remember a lentil pie I made for Adam and then again for Logan when they had those little peg teeth and I was so happy they devoured it. I had large monster babies, both 10 lbs plus at birth and I wanted them to develop a taste for my heritage cuisine.This book, especially in the middle of winter, and especially when I was far away from my Toronto based family, gave me comfort and pride and confidence to cook some dishes from my homeland that I never tried make.  Nothing makes an expat feel happier and less lonely than something from their mother country that they can eat. And so, I cooked and these toddlers grew up and from the moment they started school, theytook their mother’s cooking to school in the array of textures and colours, rarely taking sandwiches and never taking anything from a can to school in their lunch boxes.

Tonight I realized with all this cooking, I did not yet make a banana bread. I made cookies (from the packaged dough) and pies (with filling from the can and the ready-made pie shells) but not banana bread. I will begin by telling you I prefer cooking to baking. I don’t have the precision or patience for baking and will happy refer anyone to my friend Ronnie, or Leslie and even my husband Tom, when it comes to information on baked goods but I do enjoy making my Naparima Girls banana bread. So let’s begin.

Here are the ingredients:

And here is the method:

I am planning to do the banana bread muffin style. Now, bear in mind I mentioned I am an impatient baker and over the years I have found some shortcuts in the mixing of the ingredients and baking time – hence the muffins as opposed to prepping a loaf pan for a solid loaf. I do suggest you follow the recipe for best results but what I have done does work. You will see that I put the mashed bananas and eggs, salt, sugar ( I use brown sugar)  and baking soda and baking powder (my addition 1 teaspoon) in a bowl.

         

I added the lime juice and zest (my addition as I like to use all of an ingredient if I can) and the milk and fold it all in. I also omit nuts, partly because I did not have any that would work and I usually add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon because I love the taste.

         

I use 1/2 cup of vegetable oil instead of butter and really mix it in. Once the batter is all blended (I like to blend by hand but feel free to use an electronic mixer)pour it into the papered muffin tins place into an oven pre-heated to 350 F and bake for about 45 mins. Separating the batter into muffins allows them to bake in less than an hour so check them during the baking process so they don’t burn.

     

And there you have it, plus a pumpkin pie that Logan was craving. Give this recipe a try and enjoy for breakfast or lunch or a snack warmed with melted butter or jam of your choice. Stay Home. Stay safe. Try new recipes. Teach your kid to cook. ~Daniella and family.

 

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Logan Whips Up Some Chicken Thighs and Black Beans and Rice

Monday came around again and it was Master Logan James’ time to make dinner. What started perhaps as a non-preferred task has morphed into a a young man speaking to me the night before to discuss the meal and the time he’s going to get started. Today I asked him to do something with chicken thighs.

First, Logan washed and boiled the rice. He ran down to our overflow pantry and grabbed a can of black beans or sometimes they are called Turtle beans. He drained and rinsed them and added them to the rice pot. He put in a dash of oregano, pepper sauce a la Trinidad (every Trini has a bottle of home made pepper sauce in their fridge but you could use Franks or Tabasco or whatever you have on hand). He added some paprika and a little olive oil to the pot so that the rice would be nice and moist without being clumpy.

While the rice and beans were boiling down, he seasoned the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, garlic, onion powder, cayenne pepper and some Frank’s Red Hot with a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

He decided he wanted the chicken crispy but not deep fried. He is very aware of saturated fat and prefers to eat food that is baked or air fried. So, to help him achieve what he wanted I showed him how to combine mustard (usually I use Dijon mustard for this but I didn’t have any) and a little maple syrup. Once the meat was seasoned I told him to pour the mixture over the pieces and let it marinate for about 10 minutes.

  Maple Mustard glaze on seasoned chicken  lightly frying in olive oil

   Logan turning chicken pieces occasionally to get the skin to the crisp and colour he wants.

Fry chicken on medium heat turning occasionally until it stops bleeding and when it attains a golden brown colour. Next, take the time to check your phone for updates and send a quick one word or emoji response. Maybe send a snap. If you are not 12 through 30, put the phone down because this is a skill you cannot do well. Once your message has been sent, lightly moisten a sheet of foil and place on a baking dish

   

   Check your phone again while the next set of chicken thighs brown. Do not miss anything. Also, inform your mother of the latest news headline on Covid-19, to prove to her that your phone is vital to you for more than just staying in touch with friends. Physical newspapers are a thing of the past and too hard to hold. Also, today’s man can multi-task. Mic drop.

The chicken should cook in the olive oil for no more than 10-12 minutes on medium high heat. Place in foil lined baking dish and tent with another piece of foil to finish the cooking process and keep the crisp without burning the chicken skin.

Plate your meal, serve and enjoy. Cooking time an hour if prepping everything from scratch (that is seasoning meat, washing and boiling rice) This rice recipe can be done with left over rice as well. I would suggest using the seasonings Logan used for the rice dish with the beans (which you can cook separately) and fold in once beans are cooked. Stay home, Stay safe. Wash your hands and take precautions when going out shopping. Teach your teen/kid to cook. I am LOVING this time with Logan and while we are happy to share this with you and your family, I take comfort knowing that he can refer to this blog any time in the future should he need help making any of these meals. It also gives him a chance to read the mini stories that go along with them and it will hopefully keep these special moments alive for him for years to come. ~ Daniella and family.

 

 

 

Cooking in the time of Covid-19: Logan takes on Rice Noodles with Pork and Vegetables

Young Logan, as I mentioned before LOVES Asian cuisine and after cooking up some pork for him and Adam the other day, I held back a few cutlets so he could do something Asian style last evening. So as usual, here is photos, is Logan using the slow cooker to prepare this meal. I like using the slow cooker with him because when he is on his own, it is a good way for him to make his meals while he is in class or at practice or a game. This prevents him from having to cook when he gets home. After practice or class one can feel tired and when you are tired, the temptation to go out and grab fast food is too great and as an athlete he has to eat well and as a single guy on a fixed budget, he has to not waste his money. When a young person is on their own, a slow cooker, an Instant Pot and a smart oven is the way to go.

The pork was seasoned with a pinch of all purpose seasoning and put into a tightly sealed baggie earlier that morning and left for an hour in the fridge. Next, he cut the pork into strips and placed them into the slow cooker. Then he added a teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice powder, followed by 3 teaspoons of reduced sodium soy sauce.

We keep a fair supply of frozen vegetables on hand. Logan chose the Thai Style Stir-Fry ready veggie mix. He pot them in their frozen state with the port in the slow cooker and he added 2 teaspoons of sesame oil. He covered the pot and set it to low for 2 hours.

Rice Noodles are really easy to make. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Shut off the heat. Pull out the noodles from the package and place them in the pot and stir for 5 minutes. They will become al dente. Drain. Rinse in warm water. Drain and place in a pasta bowl or plate and top with the pork and veg. Enjoy. Smells fantastic. Tastes delicious and is completely satiating.

Stay home. Stay safe. Teach your teen to cook. Have important conversations, silly conversations. Get to know them even better. They are pretty amazing people. This pandemic is a bitch but, it too shall pass. Make the most of the time together. ~ Daniella and family.

 

 

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: They Wanted Fast Food – As In Me Cooking Something Fast

It was work out day for my guys. Adam was at his apartment using his heavy bag and Logan was working out in the basement and with work and an afternoon nap, I was running late on my day to cook.The wanted to eat right after they were done. Adam called and said he would have liked it if we could do a delivery at about 6:15 pm, and Logan was looking for his around the same time. So, I needed to cook food fast. Pulled out some pork cutlets, and of course, Adam put in a request for rice and beans.

So, I opened up a can or mixed beans, put a little water in the pot, seasoned salt and a little dash of Trini pepper sauce (you can us any hot sauce you have available to add a little zing). I let that heat on low while I boiled the rice and got the pork underway.

I seasoned the pork with the juice of half a large lemon, stole a pinch of Tom’s Kosher salt. added a few twists of the pepper mill grinder and 2 chopped cloves of garlic and a dash or onion powder. Next, I put some vegan butter in a pan and added the pork. I added chopped parsley and 2 caps of white wine and covered the pan and lowered the heat and simmered the pork. When the pork is slightly brown and tender when poked with a fork, it is done. Pork cooks quickly so pay attention to it. We don’t eat pork cutlets often but I thought it would be a nice change for the boys.

   One meal for here…..

 

   The other to go….

So, if you are looking for something to cook quickly, that will fill up hungry people, try the other white meat for dinner. It can be all done in 25 to 30 minutes.  Logan’s was plated and waiting for him at 6 pm and I did the sliding door social distancing drop off at 6:15 pm at Adam’s apartment. This meal is also a good source of protein for my guys after a workout or anytime.

Stay safe. Stay inside. Be patient. Cook ~ Daniella and family

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: Left Overs, Having Time to Bake and Have Breakfast Every Day.

With all the cooking we have been doing at home, we are trying to use up ingredients before grocery shopping. When Logan made his Chinese food, we had quite a few beansprouts left over, we had some pot stickers in the freezer, and left over peas and carrots. Well, this is I suppose pot sticker soup instead of won ton soup but in a pandemic lock-down, a dumpling is a dumpling and we had a nice simple meal for lunch on a chilly day that satisfied.

Soup is pretty easy. Basically you are boiling ingredients together and getting the juices in the liquid and the yum taste in the solids. Obviously you have to have a little zing – a little added flavor so obviously you have to add your pepper, your salt (in this case soy, as we are making an Asian styled soup) your chives, garlic and onion. I added a bit of sesame oil for added flavor. Bring to a boil and stir before lowering heat to simmer the soup for about another 5 to 8 minutes. If you have soup noodles you can add that in as well but it’s not necessary. Stir-frys and soups are great ways to use up left overs and create new yummy dishes. Don’t throw out. Figure it out and enjoy your new creation.

While locked-down, there has been a lot more treat making – I don’t really bake but there has been time to use out those frozen pie shells I’ve been accused of hoarding. So there has been apple pie, pumpkin  pie and chocolate chip cookies – No wonder the 20-year-old treats us like Skip the Dishes.

One thing I do like about being off the usual clock, is the time to make what you want to eat for breakfast. I like breakfast but I rarely eat it. Now, while we still get up around 7, we have a much more relaxed routine in the morning. Coffee and Latte comes first as always but we sit and watch the news longer. Then we decide what we feel like eating. For me it is usually just the latte or a smoothie to go. The only time I eat breakfast is when we are away on holiday or on business. It’s has been nice having pancakes around here a few times a week, or bacon and eggs and orange juice, or a non-rushed grilled cheese, or actual yogurt and fruit instead of protein powder, water and maybe a l bit of fruit. I love having time.

I love not rushing. This is a very busy family and we remember everything and get it all done and I work very hard at keeping a relaxed vibe in spite of the pace but with no busy schedule, it has been really nice just moving at a slower pace and not always working backwards from the time we are supposed to be somewhere. It sucks to be stuck at home this long but for what it is worth, this virus has given us time back – for ourselves, our loved ones and for the things we never seem to have time for.

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Enjoy the time. We will get there. #Teachyour teenagertocook ~ Daniella and family.

Cooking in the Time of Covid-19: And the Guy Serves Up Penne with Chicken & Broccoli

MY SON DELIVERED! And man, it was tasty! Logan as you know, has been learning to cook now that we are all at home everyday, pretty much all day. This cooking was supposed to happen in Summer after graduation when he had more time, but the spread of the coronavirus, as it has for everyone, postponed everything in his life, including graduation. Knowing that he would be back at his busy life when we are able to leave the house again, I told him to consider learning to cook now since we are all on pause. Today, I told him to get started in the kitchen by seasoning up some chicken with seasonings he thought would work for a pasta dish. He dashed some Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic powder and oregano and let it marinate for a while.

He started the water for the penne added salt and a little splash of olive oil. Without a prompt he crushed and chopped 2 garlic cloves, measured out how much broccoli he wanted for his dish and once the water boiled, threw in his penne.

With the pasta boiling, he heated a little olive oil in a pot, added his chicken and stirred on high heat. He added his chopped garlic and the broccoli, lowered the heat and covered the pot. Once the pasta was cooked and drained, he put some butter (maybe about a teaspoon) to melt in the pot.

 

We didn’t have any Alfredo sauce so he got creative and used some Caesar’s dressing (like a couple squirts ) and some ranch dressings (again about a couple squirts) and a little milk. This mixture should measure to about 4 oz of liquid,  Logan added the pasta to the melted butter, added the chicken and broccoli and mixed in the dressing. He added in some fresh Parmesan and mixed all the ingredients together.

   

                   

 

 

The taste test apparently told Chef something was missing and he said, “I’m gonna add some salt to bring out all the flavors. I ain’t serving no bland food”. Imagine my pride in this moment as I stood silently and observed as he created this dinner for his family. Once the food was plated he suggested we top with more fresh Parm.

I have to say. I like where this cooking journey is taking us. Stay home. Stay safe. Teach your teenager to cook while we all have the time. ~ Daniella and family