Archive for the ‘Meals for One’ Category

I’m Back with Redneck Calamari and More

February 7, 2014
Redneck Calamari

Redneck Calamari

Half the reason I’m back to coffeepot cooking is that I love to cook with my Granddaughters; especially totally ridiculous meals like the one shown above. Of course this meal pretty much comes without a recipe but most people will figure it out. For those fathers who never cook and occasionally get stuck making a meal for children, the recipe is below with a little warning. Perhaps I should have left a link to my grandfathers and hotdog post.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

Water, Enough

Hotdogs, Enough

Gold Fish Crackers, Enough

Garnish to make it look like seaweed, Optional, I used Cilantro

Method:P1000502a

Cut bottom 2/3 of hotdog into six legs so it looks like a squid.

Hotdogs in Pot

Hotdogs in Pot

Place in coffeepot

Run water throw the coffeemaker.

Let cook on hotplate for an hour.

Arrange on plates and serve.

Warning!

I used good all beef Hebrew National Hotdogs and “Frankly” they were too dry. If I ever do this again, I will intentionally buy the Brand X greasy cheap hotdogs made from pork and chicken so they have flavor at the end of the cooking process.

The other reason, I am returning to portion controlled coffeepot cooking is because I am becoming a “fat slob”. My daughter and niece were the bearers of the negative assessment this time. I first heard this as a medical assessment in Florida after I suffered a stroke in 2010. I was complaining to the doctor that it didn’t make sense as I had already lost 57 pounds which was morbid obesity at my height.

At the time of the stroke, I was at 210 and still medically classified as obese. Frustrated the doctor explained that he really didn’t care how much I had lost in the past, I was still officially obese and a fat slob.

Over the past 18 months, I have written two books, I never stopped exercising. But as I slid out of my comfort zone of 172 to 178, I never really noticed that there was a dramatic change in my cooking, eating and drinking.

Because  I was researching and writing about history, I stopped my passion for reading and writing about food. I quit cooking in my coffeepot and started grilling double portions on the grill and eating it all or cooking the food in my cute small crockpot which is still bigger than my coffeepot. When I am researching and writing about anything other than food and dieting, I sort of pace around the house and mindlessly eat. At night, I have a few extra glasses of wine so I can kill my brain activity and go to sleep.

Big Belly Man

Big Belly Man

So in 2014 just 2 pounds short of where I had my stroke, I have come to accept that I must split my time between doing what I want and doing what I need to do. I will start becoming food and diet focused again spending some time finding recipes and preparing meals based on quality not quantity. The next time I post a picture, I am sure it will be better than the one above or I must begin to accept that their may not be a next time if I don’t take care of myself.

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

April 25, 2013
Stuffed Peppers and Broccoli Side

Stuffed Peppers and Broccoli Side

In January last year, I published two posts about stuffed peppers on my blog as this is one of the foods from my youth that I really liked. I am glad that I was publishing recipes while I dropped my 100 pounds, because it allows me to see how much my tastes have changed over time. In the post fifteen months ago, I was still favoring ground beef and in transition over white rice.

When I decided to make the stuffed peppers in my new Crockpot, there were several changes. First, it is much easier to get the stuffed pepper out of a Crockpot rather than a coffeepot because of the wider lid. But the really big change has been my evolution of ingredients. I no longer cook with salt. Yes, I have it on hand and use it occasionally but it is no longer a mindlessly included ingredient. I make up the lack of salt by using more spices.

I now use ground turkey instead of ground beef. Also, I no longer have any white rice in the house but favor brown rice or barley. Except for the cutting back on salt, the rest were not really conscious decisions and I don’t make a big deal out of them when my family is doing the cooking. I pretty much eat what is served and enjoy it. Without salt, I prefer the richer flavors of brown rice and barley over white rice. The original recipe which used ground beef, white rice and salt is here and my latest effort is below:

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
Stuffing Ingredients:
5 oz. (1/3 pound) ground turkey
1 small onion diced
½ cup cooked barley or brown rice
4 oz. Tomato sauce (canned or Italian)
1 tsp garlic
¼ tsp pepper
1 egg

Additional Ingredients:
2 medium bell peppers (Red or Green Look Best when cooked)
4-8 oz. Tomato sauce

Directions:
1.Combine all the stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until uniform.
2.Cut tops off of peppers, remove seeds and stuff with mixture.
3.Place in Crockpot
4.Add additional sauce until just completely covered.


Stuffed Pepper in Crockpot

Stuffed Peppers in the Crockpot

5.Cook covered 4-6 hours.
6.Serve with coleslaw or Broccoli

Best part no leftovers to tempt me!

My Christmas Crockpot

April 20, 2013
My Christmas Crockpot

My Christmas Crockpot

My daughter says that she and I both have minds like steel traps. According to her, there still is a huge difference between the two of us. Her trap is set to capture new concepts and ideas and my trap is sprung so it locks out everything new to me.

This discussion started a few years ago when she first tasted my coffeepot cooking including, Caribbean, Indian and Thai cooking. Her comment then was, “You could pick-up woman by cooking for them if you get rid of the weird factor of cooking in your coffeepot.” Of course my granddaughters reinforced the weird factor because all their friends at school told them that I was weird for cooking in my coffeepot.

Well of course I told my daughter and granddaughters, that crackpots were all the wrong size; I couldn’t find one that would safely work for my needs, and I was not going back to cooking monster meals.

Naturally, my daughter Dagny just ignored me and found a proper size (2 to 2 1/2 quart) Crockpot for Christmas. By proper size, I mean it holds pretty much the same amount of fluid as my 12 cup coffeepot so there is no temptation to super-size a meal. Over the past few months I have been checking it out and there are good and bad features compared to coffeepot cooking.

On the negative side, it has poorer temperature control than my coffeepot. When cooking a meal all day, the coffeepot will pretty much hold 165 degrees Fahrenheit and not change. With an aluminum foil cover it gets to 190. When set on low temperature, the crockpot varies considerably and will boil liquid after several hours. On high, it will actually scorch some foods. You have to pay closer attention to cooking times, When the food is done in the Crockpot, turn it off. The coffeepot is an excellent slow cooker and it is still at low enough temperature to act as a warmer. I used a Kill-A-Watt to measure the cost of electricity for cooking a meal and the Crackpot costs about twice as much to do the job compared to the coffeepot.

On the positive side it is much easier to get a pot roasted chicken out of the Crockpot because of the wider opening than the coffeepot. If you get stupid and stir the pot with a heavy metal spoon, you are less likely to break the ceramic pot than a glass coffeepot. Of course it is still easier to see when the glass pot is clean than it is to see when your black ceramic pot is clean.

Still my friends and family, male and female, are glad to see that I am conforming with societies values and using a standard tool of the kitchen rather than “abusing” my coffeepot. All things considered, I believe this is the best possible Crockpot when cooking portion controlled meals for one or two people. However, when warming things that probably don’t need to be cooked yet might scorch (Kielbasa and Baked Beans), I will use my coffeepot to warm them up especially if I don’t have time to watch the pot.

Kidney Stew, I Am My Mother’s Son!

July 8, 2012

Kidney Stew

I like Kidney Stew because my mother liked Kidney Stew. My brother and sister hated it and when we were poor under fed kids which was the last time I was underfed in my life until I adapted my new lifestyle of portion controlled meals, this was the only meal where I actually got enough meat to eat.

Seems, my sister and brother hated kidneys so bad that I could trade one piece of carrot or one potato for a couple of pieces of their kidneys. So I ended up with all their meat and still retained some of my potatoes and carrots. When I mention that I still make kidney stew, and have actually ordered kidneys in mustard sauce as an appetizer, it just confirmed to them that I am still nuts. Well, Mom lived to be 93 years old with her mind still functioning so she must have been doing something right with her diet.

The recipe is a standard stew recipe with a few adaptations to make allow for cooking in my coffeepot. The single biggest one being to stew the kidneys n olive oil and rum for a couple of hours to tenderize them and avoid that rubbery texture you can get when you cook kidneys too fast at high temperatures.

Ingredients:

1 T Butter
1 T flour

2 Potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
2 Carrots coined
1 tsp salt
6 cups water

1 pound kidneys (trim off all the fat and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 T crushed garlic or 3 cloves minced
1 onion rough cut
1 oz Rum
2 T olive oil
2 stalks of celery cut into small pieces
1 bay leaf
1 beef bullion cube
12 oz of water

Method:

1. Let the butter come to room temperature then mix in the flour until a smooth paste. Let sit at room temperature until needed.

2. Wash then peal the potatoes or not, it’s your choice. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces.

3. Wash then slice carrots into coined pieces.

4. Add carrots and potatoes to coffeepot with salt and pass about 6-8 cups of clean water through the coffeemaker.

5. When done, cover with foil and cook covered for about 2 hours until soft.

6. While waiting, all of the fat has to be cut off the kidneys prior to cooking. This is a tedious process so go slowly until you get the knack of it. Cut the kidneys into bite sized pieces

7. When done drain the potatoes and carrots and set aside.

8. Add the kidneys,onions, garlic, olive oil, rum, bay and celery to the pot.

9. Cook covered for 2-4 hours, until tender.

10. Add bullion to the pot and then pass the 12 ounces of water through the coffeemaker.

12. When water is done steaming mix it into the flour and water mixture in the bowl until you get a smooth gravy.

13. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pot and return the gravy to the coffeepot. Cook covered for a couple more hours.

If you like kidneys, you will love kidney stew. If you have never tried it, they are very inexpensive to cook and you just may like them. They are in the same texture and flavor range as beef liver. For me, they also bring back fond memories of my Mother.

Coffeepot Lasagna: Oxymoron or Good Eating?

June 23, 2012

Rolled Lasagna: Coffeepot Style

When my parents started getting older, it seemed that all they wanted to talk about was the weather and their grandchildren. Now the first topic is boring and there is not much I can do about it, but I must admit that I spend a lot of time talking to my children about their wonderful and sometimes not quite so wonderful children. I also spend a significant amount of time talking to my children about business, exercise (their’s and mine) and cooking.

My daughter discovered a recipe for rolled lasagna in early April and was concerned that it was not quite perfect. We talked about it and it sounded like something that could be done in my coffeepot but I didn’t get around to it until just before Memorial Day and have been too busy since then with my anti-inflammatory diet to worry about publishing new recipes.

However, I get two of my three Granddaughters for the first three weeks in August and this is another one of those fun meals that shouldn’t be possible to make. Even the name Coffeepot Lasagna sounds like an oxymoron. One of the most important things I learned with his meal is that you can cook the whole box of lasagna noodles and the ones that you don’t use can be frozen between layers of wax-paper and are perfectly fine for another day.

Naturally, my daughter and I never cook anything exactly the same way. She tends to be aware and adapt to the contemporary interpretations of old recipes and I tend to do it the old-fashioned way. It’s all good. When I cook, she loves it. When she cooks, I love it. The biggest difference in this recipe is that she included crumbled cooked sausage in her cheese mix for the filling, I sliced cooked meatballs and made it a layer on top of the filling. If I were including sausage, which I have in the past, I slice it and include it with the meatball slices or in a separate layer. Oh well, to each their own.

Rolled Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 egg
4 oz shredded Mozzarella
handful fresh parsley minced

3 Lasagna noodles cooked as per box directions.

Method:

1. Cook all the noodles and freeze the ones you don’t use between sheets of wax paper.

2. Microwave one portion of frozen meatballs for the appropriate amount of time.

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Spread the Cheese Mix on the Lasagna Noodles

4. Spread the cheese mix on the noodles.

5. Place the sliced cooked meatballs on top of the noodles and dab a little sauce on top of everything.

6. Roll and spike with toothpick to hold.

7. Put a little sauce in bottom of coffeepot so nothing sticks.

Cooked Rolled Lasagna

8. Place meatballs inside and cook for two to four hours.

9. Enjoy

I haven’t made this in the three years since Dolores died but I am definite I will make it when my granddaughters are here. Truth be told, I forgot to dab the sauce on top of the cheese and meatball layer before rolling because it’s been too long, but that is the traditional way to do it.

Ah, I remember it well!

Vegan Black Beans and Tomatoes with Brown Rice

May 9, 2012

Vegan Black Beans and Tomatoes with Brown Rice

I simply like black beans and complex flavors and this meal just popped into my head. I have eaten similar meals with barley made with chicken stock but this time I had a cup of cooked brown rice made with no flavoring or salt so it could easily be accompanied by strong flavors. Since it was a vegan start and I hadn’t defrosted any meat, I decided to stick with the genera.

The starting point was the red beans and brown rice which I had done a while back. In that recipe, I had started with uncooked rice and used vegetable broth instead of water and cooked it all day. I also used less spices. This time I only had about 5 hours which is enough for canned beans and cooked rice. Well the meal was full flavored and complex, I loved it but only ate about half of the cooked beans and tomatoes. The rice was 200 calories and the rest of the pot was less than 800 so I only had about 600 calories and was very comfortable. Even if I had eaten all, it would have ended up at less than a 1000 calories for dinner.

Vegan Black Beans and Tomatoes with Brown Rice

Ingredients:

1-2 T of olive oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 T minced garlic
1 T thin sliced ginger
1 medium onion rough cut
1 thin slice scotch bonnet hot pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1 package Sazon (optional)

1 can Black Beans
1 can diced Tomatoes

1 cup cooked brown rice or barley

Method:

1. Put all ingredients in the coffeepot and cook covered with a piece of foil for about 2 hours.

2. Add the Beans and tomatoes and all of the liquid to the pot.

3. Stir and let cook for another 2 hours.

4. Microwave cooked rice for 3 minutes.

5. Serve and Enjoy!!!

The most amazing epiphany I had with this meal is that 600 calories would really satisfy me. When I started my lifestyle change, I used to consume as much as 5000 to 6000 calories a day. including food and beverages and couldn’t concieve of a meal without meat.

Without thinking about it yesterday, I ate 1/2 coconut which has 700 calories, small amounts of celery probably less than 100 calories including dip, dinner 600 calories and wine 1000 calories or 2400 calories. I also walked 3 miles and worked in my yard for a few hours. Pretty much, I act like this everyday and I have lost all the weight I recently gained on vacations (about 10 pounds). I am now at 172 pounds with a 37 inch waste. That is down from 265 pounds with a 56 inch waist at my peak and 245 pounds with a 47 inch waist at the the start of my commitment to a lifestyle change.

Imagine that meatless days by choice and no perceived sacrifice. Amazing!!!

Even Better Bok Choy

April 24, 2012

Good, better, best.
Never let it rest.
Until your good is better
and your better is best.

Cooked Bok Choy

With all the Bok Choy in my garden, I had to keep searching for a low sodium way to prepare it or else keep giving it away. I found this recipe over at allrecipes.com and there are a few differences other than it calls for no salt at all. With a cooking time of 15 minutes, it is a lot longer than any of the other stir fry recipes I had seen. It also includes capers, vinegar and lemon juice to essentially give this bland vegetable some more flavor beyond the ginger and garlic. Well of course I wasn’t going to buy red wine vinegar just to test the recipe and with a lime tree outside my kitchen door, I thought it senseless to buy a lemon when I use lime for every recipe that calls for lemon and like the taste. So with these very minor changes, the Bok Choi turned out excellent and I will be eating more of it and testing other low sodium recipes with a little longer cooking time.

Ingredients:

6 big leaves bok choy
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 T capers
1 T minced garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger root
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 dash fresh lime juice, or to taste

Method:

1. Remove the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Cut the stems into bite-sized chunks and shred the leaves.

2. Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat and add the stems to the pan

3. Cook the bok choy stems in the oil until slightly tender, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the water and chopped leaves and cook until the water is gone or about 10 more minutes.

5. Stir in the capers, garlic, and ginger and cook 1 minute more.

6. Sprinkle the vinegar and lime juice over the bok choy and remove from heat;

7. Serve immediately.

I used this as a substitute for my mid day salad and am planning a smoked turkey and Bok Choy dinner now that I find I prefer the taste of well cooked bok choy.

Bok Choy and Flowers

April 21, 2012

Flowers and Panas en Escabeche

Last week the winds brought down partially ripe breadfruit from a tree and I got 3 of them. Now breadfruit is one of those items that is best eaten in the green phase as when ripe, it gets a very sweet taste and has the consistency of custard  I am not fond of the ripe ones. Even green it is not a popular vegetable in the Virgin Islands but gets more popular in the Eastern Caribbean. When I was in St. Kitts last summer a friend prepared Breadfruit Plantains and they are fantastic.

They are essentially fried and when cooked for only five minutes they are according to my granddaughters who did not know I made a switch with regular white potatoes, the best French Fries they had ever eaten. When they are cooked for 15 minutes or so, they turn a golden brown and get very crispy like a potato chip. I like them both ways and have been know to over indulge since you start with a whole breadfruit weighing about four pounds and you can fry another batch ever 5 to 10 minutes.

Since I had three breadfruit to play with, I started searching for other recipes. It seems the first recipe I found was called “Soused Breadfruit” which I had never heard of nor could I find it anywhere on the web other than that one recipe. But in the West Indies, most souse recipes call for Vinegar and oil which is the basis for Puerto Rican Escabeche so I expanded my search for Panas en Escabeche.

Essentially, these is just like the Green Banana salad (Escabeche de Guineos) previously published. You dice the Breadfruit after pealing and discarding the seed. The breadfruit cubes are boiled for about 20- to 25 minutes which makes them soft to a fork. All of the other ingredients are added to the bowl and tossed.

This time I had green and red bell peppers so I used both. Also I had a cucumber that I wanted to use up so, I pealed it and sliced it very thin with a cheese slicer and added that to the salad. It was a pretty good salad  but not as good as “the Best French Fries ever.”

So what has this got to do with Bok Choy? My friend Gloria loves Bok Choy and at 90 pounds is not worried about salt and high blood pressure from traditional stir fried recipes which are really quite good.  Gloria Powell (www.antilleslilies.com) is a event florist on St, Croix heavily involved in working with tourists who want to get married in a St. Croix celebration.The solution, I made a trade of my excess arugula and Bok Choy for her gift of flowers. She also bought me a glass of wine.

Colorful Hash

April 20, 2012

Colorful Hash

I have been visiting over at Audrey Can Cook since January of this yer when she caught my attention with a recipe for blintzes. For those who don’t know, these crapes, when used as a dessert, are stuffed with a sweetened cheese filling. Now I am not big on desserts, but her focus is on small portions whether it’s a meal or a dessert so I keep going back.

In March, she had a very simple recipe for Hash and the only substitution I made was to use a yam instead of a white Irish Potato. Seems I didn’t have any potatoes on hand and didn’t feel like making a special trip to the store so I used ½ of a medium sized yam which is still larger than a normal potato. While this may not be traditional, the hash turned out excellent.

Ingredients:
1/2 Yam, cooked and cubed
1 carrot, coined
1T olive oil
1 piece Italian sausage remove meat from the casings
1 small onion, rough cut
1 bell pepper (red), diced
1 T garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper to taste

Method:
1. Pre-Cook Carrots and Yam. (Put coined carrots and cubed yam in coffeepot with tsp salt. Run water through coffeemaker to heat up and let drip on yam and carrots. When done dripping, cover with foil and cook for about one hour. Drain and remove from pot and hold for later.
2. Cook meat, onions and garlic in 1T of olive oil about 1 hour
3. Add peppers to the pot and cook covered for one hour
4. Add cooked carrots and yams to the pot, cook covered for 2 more hours.
5. mix well and season to taste

As the picture shows, this was a colorful combination and the next time I cook it, I will stick with the yam. The other advice I would give for this simple flavorful meal, is to make sure you get the best sausage you can find. A lot of the flavor comes from the spices in the sausage and the fat gets adsorbed by the vegetables. So good sausage will give you a good hash.

Good Bok Choy

April 17, 2012

Bok Choy Bed

The Bok Choy in my garden is even healthier than my arugula which is so thick, I could harvest it with a Machete. To bad I’m not overly fond of Bok Choy because most recipes taste good but are heavily loaded with salt which I try to avoid. I started searching for low salt recipes and found a few and decided to move from the least complex to more sophisticated to see if I really liked any of them.

The following recipe was inspired by a recipe from steamykitchen.com where they start to build up the flavor with the addition of ginger and chicken broth with salt to taste.

Stir Fried Bok Choy

Ingredients:

4 large leaves

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T crushed garlic, finely minced

1 T grated fresh ginger

1 tsp sesame seeds

4 tablespoons chicken broth

salt to taste

Method:

This is a typical stir fry with the oil, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds added to my fry pan and stir fried for a minute or two after the pan starts sizzling.

The stems are added to soften for a few minutes and then the broth and chopped leaves are added and stir fried until the leaves wilt.

Serve immediately and add salt to taste.

The Bok Choy still needed salt but at least I was in control.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers