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A Recipe of My Own

The other day, I was forced to create a recipe of my own. A friend gave me a bag of squash linguine from Sunrise Creative Gourmet. She received it as a gift and didn’t think she would like it because she doesn’t like squash. Since I never made that sort of pasta before, I tried to find a sauce to go with. The Sunrise Creative Gourmet website recommended making an olive oil and parmesan cheese sauce. It also indicated that roasted vegetables, chicken, or salmon would make a good addition. While I searched the Internet for a more specific recipe, a recipe that called for a third of a cup of olive oil looked like a good place to start. The rest of the ingredients didn’t sound appetizing, so I made it up as I went along, keeping the Sunrise Creative Gourmet’s suggestions in mind.

While the water for the pasta was heating up, I poured the olive oil in a large skillet. I had already sliced the chicken into bite-sized pieces. As the chicken cooked and filled the house with a delicious-smelling aroma, some of my favorite recipes came to mind, and this is what got combined:

Chicken, Squash Linguine with Olive Oil
and Parmesan Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

1-16 oz. package of linguine (squash, if you can find it; regular, if you can’t)
1.25 pound package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 big clove of garlic, minced
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup red pepper, chopped into ½-inch pieces
15 grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup lemon juice
½ to 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cook linguine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook chicken in olive oil over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic, onion, and red pepper and heat until red pepper is cooked through. Add tomatoes, parsley flakes, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and lemon juice.  Cover pan and simmer until tomatoes look a little wilted. If the pasta is done cooking, drain pasta, add pasta to skillet, and mix altogether. Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy.

The flavors blended together nicely.  The funny thing is that the pasta didn’t really taste like squash! It might have been that the onion and garlic overpowered that taste. Any old sauce would have tasted okay, but it’s better to have this recipe of my own.  Besides, this concoction disappeared faster than it took to make. If you try it, let me know if you like it!

Spicy Met Sweet and Tasty!

Last time, I shared the story of making applesauce, but do you know what goes best with applesauce? Potato pancakes. I found a container of applesauce hiding in the freezer, our last one from 2014. Just looking at it gave me a craving for German potato pancakes. My mom used to make them on occasion too, and I have her recipe:

Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:
Two eggs
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups cubed raw potatoes

Directions:  Put the eggs, onion, salt, flour, baking powder, and a half a cup of potato cubes into a blender, cover and process at grate until potatoes have gone through the blades. Stop blender. Add remaining potatoes a half a cup at a time, cover, and process at chop only until all potato cubes have passed through processing blades. Use a rubber spatula to help guide potatoes to processing blades. Do not over blend! Pour onto a hot well-greased griddle. Drain on absorbent paper towels. Yield – 12 pancakes.

Once I found a packaged version in the grocery store, but I only made it one time – the scratch recipe above is so much better. Be a little patient because potato pancakes take a little while longer to cook than regular pancakes.  I didn’t grease the griddle with oil like Mom used to do. Instead, I used Pam olive oil, and it worked very well. The pancakes were not greasy and tasted great. As the cakes cooked, the scent brought back fond memories of when Mom used to cook these up. Our family gobbled them down faster than it took Mom to make them – always a good sign of a family favorite.

Potato Pancakes

After you make a tasty batch and stack them on your plate, be sure to smother them with sweet applesauce. It’s one of the best combinations ever invented – almost better than when peanut butter met chocolate! The grilled mild Italian sausage that we served made for a nice combination and was an extravaganza for our taste buds. Spicy met sweet and tasty.  🙂

When’s a time you cooked something where the aroma gave you a pleasant memory?

I Heard Someone Say “Rhubarb”

Today I bought a bunch of rhubarb at the Farmer’s Market downtown. I passed by several stands before I came to one that looked to have a very nice selection of ruby-red stalks with some green parts in between.

“This is all grown on a farm in Elk River,” the lady said to me from behind the stand.

“It looks beautiful,” I said. I thought it looked like a real bargain too at $2 a bunch. Other stands were selling their rhubarb for $3 or $4 a bunch and the colors weren’t as vibrant.

“The honey dew is a $1 each,” she said as she opened a plastic bag. My friend and I looked at the large melons, and we looked at each other and laughed.

“No, we both ride the bus, and it would be too much to cart on there. I can just imagine the melon rolling down the aisle,” I laughed.

“Well, we don’t want to haul it back either!” she said. She packed up the rhubarb for me, and away we went.

It all started about a month ago when I heard someone say rhubarb. I started to think about the rhubarb sauce my Mom used to make for us when I was a little kid. She served it to us warm over cold vanilla ice cream.  I searched recipes on-line, looked through my own cookbooks to see what recipes I could find for rhubarb sauce, but deep inside I knew that I really wanted to use the recipe that my Mom used for her rhubarb sauce.  I wish I knew I wanted that recipe way before now.

Today when I got home, I searched through Mom’s recipe box and cookbook for the first time since I became their new owner. The recipe box had tabbed dividers that said: Beverages, Bread, Cake, etc. When I found casserole recipes under the Sauce tab, I figured out that Mom didn’t divide the recipes up accordingly, so I leafed through the entire box. There I found the many recipes that I typed up for Mom when I was just a little kid. I loved to type away on the old black typewriter. It was the kind that had ink on a ribbon and you had to push the keys down so far that you built very nice muscles in your fingers. It didn’t work from any electrical energy. It was all done by manpower. Those lovingly typed up recipes were mixed in with Mom’s handwritten index cards and lots of recipes cut out of newspapers. I found a pepper enchilada recipe that sounded good, but there was not a recipe for rhubarb sauce.

I pulled down the large green cookbook from the top shelf of the pantry in the kitchen. The Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, © 1942-1946, informed me that rhubarb is a vegetable even though it is usually served as a fruit. I always wondered! Many pages are devoted to rhubarb, but page 254 explains how to make spiced rhubarb, stewed rhubarb, baked rhubarb and rhubarb sauce. My own Betty Crocker Cookbook doesn’t even have that many options! The rhubarb sauce from Mom’s book called for lots of water and cornstarch, and I knew that wasn’t right. I decided to try the stewed rhubarb:

  1. Clean and cut 2 pounds of rhubarb in 1-inch lengths. Place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and 2/3 cup of sugar.
  2. Cover and simmer over low heat 12 to 15 minutes or until tender but not mushy.
    Makes about 3 cups.

I cooked it a little too long, and it looks a little mushy. It tasted okay but not as good as Mom’s. I’ll always wonder if this is the right recipe, or did she just make it up on the way every time even though it always tasted the same. Now, for the rest of my days, I will be trying to figure out how to make rhubarb sauce that tastes just as good as Mom used to make.

Going in Reverse

Thursdays are the days when the Farmer’s Market booths line Nicollet Mall between 5th and 9th Streets. It was shoulder-to-shoulder shopping that day during the lunch hour in downtown Minneapolis. Excited shoppers rush along carrying beautiful bundles of brightly colored flowers. Others look as if they are being weighed down by their many packages.  Most everyone seemed to be in a big hurry to find their favorite vegetable, fruit, or jar of honey.  The smell of nuts being roasted in cinnamon filled the air.

 Photo Courtesy of Minneapolis Farmer’s Market

Since my refrigerator was plumb full of fruit, but needed lettuce, I scanned the booths for that leafy vegetable. My friend thought that all the lettuce would be gone by the time we got there. We found Swiss chard and kale at the first booth we visited, but no lettuce. I never ate kale before, and I am pretty sure I never heard of it.  I held it up and found that it looked thick and course and as if it would involve a lot of chewing.  The saleslady said that kale is good to eat if you crunch up the leaves and make it like a Caesar salad. I still wasn’t sure about it, but the thing was that shoppers could buy three bunches of greens for $5.00. We got two bunches of kale and a bunch of Swiss chard and decided to split up our shares later. We wandered farther down and found tomatoes to share too.  After carrying around all these veggies, we found the fresh lettuce that I had been searching for. I bought some to add to the load, and worried if we could possibly eat all these greens.  After finding and tasting a sample of the cinnamon nuts, I realized the roasting always smells better than the tasting.  No nuts were purchased that day.

After we divided up the kale and Swiss chard, I found a recipe on-line for an Apple-Walnut Kale Salad which just so happens to call for Swiss chard! The ingredients sounded great, and since the whole family was going to be home that coming weekend, the next day I ventured out to get the rest of the ingredients.  On Saturday night, I put the salad together to go with our Saturday night meal. It quickly disappeared.  Everyone liked the blend of flavors and didn’t even complain about all the chewing! You can find the recipe here.

Apple-Walnut Kale Salad Recipe
Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine

I enjoy visiting the Farmer’s Market and wish that I would more often. The merchants are so welcoming, and it’s nice to buy fresh, local produce. Kale led me to Apple-Walnut Kale Salad.  When I shop at the grocery store, I only buy something different after I find a new recipe. For once, I found the recipe after I bought the kale which is totally out of my routine.  Doing things in reverse can get a person out of a rut!  Plus, not one morsel of greenness was left to waste.

On the Road to Popovers

My first baking experience occurred during my Home Economics Class in 9th Grade.   Our class learned how to make macaroons.  I enjoyed this experience so much that once a week for many months, I baked macaroons at home.  I made so many macaroons that I have not eaten one since.  Now whenever I see a macaroon, I have to turn the other way.

After mastering the art of making macaroons, I ventured on to baking chocolate chip cookies.  Baking cookies was a little more difficult.  At first, the things that came out of the oven were not very appetizing because they either stuck to the baking sheets, or were a little crumpled at the edges and soft in the middle, or sometimes those cookies were burnt.  My family was one that did not throw things away or it could be that some did not want to offend my sensitive feelings.  My Mom and Dad acted like my baking was the best thing that happened since sliced bread.  They managed to convince my brothers to follow their lead and choke down some of my early concoctions. 

Choking down a young baker’s creations is a good strategy to follow.  If my family members would have harshly criticized my early baking techniques, I would not have gone on the road to popovers. 

I found the recipe for popovers in Mom’s green, hard covered cookbook.  The recipe was easy to find because the book opened straight to the popover page.  This happens when a favorite recipe is used over and over again – the cookbook points the way to a favorite recipe. 

A recipe for popovers is simple.  All the ingredients that are needed are flour, butter, milk, eggs and salt.  Not much stirring is needed.  The difficult part to baking popovers is being patient and waiting for the popovers to get done because this process takes 40 long minutes!

You might think you are going to get a big treat when you first see a popover, but all that is really inside is a bunch of yellow eggy stuff that is globbed together in an interesting pattern. 

It is best to eat a popover just a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.  A little cloud of steam escapes to tickle your nostrils.  A pad of butter makes it taste all the better, but it is not necessarily needed.

If I would not have gone on the road to popovers, I would have missed the road to cakes.  One road often leads to another.