27 April 2010

Mom's Stuffed Peppers

Everyone, I'm sure, has dishes they most associate with "home" and these stuffed peppers are one of mine.   I remember coming home from school and the whole house would smell so distractingly delicious that it would be very hard to concentrate on whatever new novel I was currently devouring ....

When I hear talk now about getting kids to help out in the kitchen to make them more conscious eaters and give them the skills they'll need to make good food choices as adults, I'm always a little amused (and surprised). I'm sure my mother never thought twice about putting me to work in her kitchen as there was no reason a clever child such as myself couldn't peel vegetables, mash potatoes, empty the compost bin, and set and clear the table. None of these were particularly difficult or strenuous activities -- although I strenuously objected to emptying the compost bin -- and I managed to do them with a certain amount of competency considering my brain was almost always only half-concentrating on the task at hand while the other half was busy thinking about the novel I wanted to be off reading.

I did not actually learn how to cook from my mother -- oh, how I resisted girlification -- but I was aware that the foods I ate at home were frequently "better for me" and more "real" than food I saw on the tables of friends and relatives. This awareness has, no doubt, served me well as an adult, but caused some resentment in my childhood when I realized most people did not view pizza or fruit roll-ups as once-a-blue-moon treats!

Admittedly, my parents didn't have a lot of disposable income so my mother's restriction on junk food might have been more fiscal than nutritional.  And that is probably also why we ate a lot of things like meatloaf, roast turkey, stuffed cabbage, and stuffed peppers -- cheap, filling, good for leftovers, and pretty nutritionally sound.

Regardless, I am grateful I had a mother who cooked (and who now shares her recipes with me).
Mom's Stuffed Peppers
6 large green bell peppers, topped and gutted
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 cup cooked rice
1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 350F°.

Parboil peppers in salted water for 5 minutes or until bright green and slightly tender. Drain. Cook beef and onions in a saute pan until browned. Add salt and pepper, garlic powder, rice, and 1 cup of sauce. Mix well.

Lightly stuff meat mixture into peppers. Stand peppers up in a greased pan about as deep as the peppers are tall. Top peppers with remaining sauce.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Serves 6 with mashed potatoes and tossed salad.

26 April 2010

A Man Walks Into A Kitchen ...

And makes some pretty okay noms.  Yes, The Husband has done a little cooking while I've been out of commission:

Baked Lemon-Pepper Chicken Breasts
Boneless skinless chicken breasts seasoned with salt-free lemon pepper herb seasoning, sprayed with a little Pam, and then baked, uncovered, at 375°F for about 40 minutes. Served w/ parsley rice and diced cucumbers & tomatoes in light Italian.

Mustard Baked Salmon
Skinned boned salmon fillet smeared with Stonewall Kitchen's Blue Cheese Herb Mustard and baked at 375°F for about 20 minutes. Served w/ parsley rice and diced cucumbers & tomatoes in light Italian.

Soy Sauce Chicken
Boneless skinless chicken breasts topped with a mixture of soy sauce and sour cream and then baked, covered, at 350°F for 1 hour. Served w/ parsley rice and peas.

(Since I received my rice cooker, parsley rice has become our default side dish -- it's just rice cooked in low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth with dried parsley flakes).

14 April 2010

Mom's Tomato Soup Cake

For as far back as I can remember, my mother has been making tomato soup cake.   Usually, it makes its appearance in the autumn or around Christmas, but she has also been known to bake it for special visitors.  I guess you could think of it as an old-fashioned company cake. Dense, spicy, and nutty, it's probably more of a tea loaf than a cake, but cake is what we've always called it.

We were discussing weird recipes at work and, when I mentioned my mother's cake, several people seemed horrified.  Soup does not go in cake, I was told.  Neither do tomatoes.  Tomato soup cake must be some kind of travesty played out by people who don't really like cake.

Of course, the next time I saw my mother, I had her copy out her recipe so I could make tomato soup cake for my co-workers and show them how wrong they are.  Then, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my ankle and ... well, I won't be baking for a while.

Nonetheless, I give you my mother's tomato soup cake recipe just as she has written it down.  My mother bakes a lot of things more from memory than recipe now, so I cannot guarantee this recipe will yield loaves identical to those which leave her oven.
Mom's Tomato Soup Cake

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
1 10¾ oz. can condensed tomato soup
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are good)
1 cup raisins (golden or brown both work fine)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl sift flour and baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, cream together the oil and sugar till smooth. Whisk in the tomato soup. Slowly add flour mixture to oil and soup mixture. Beat just until combined. Fold in nuts and raisins; pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 1 loaf. Double for a bundt cake.

05 April 2010

Easter Dinner For The Gimpy

We were supposed to go see my parents for Easter, but I'm in no condition for a long car ride, so they came to us bearing a big cooler of delicious Easter noms. While I sat in an arm chair and faded in and out of consciousness, my mother has a good time rummaging 'round my kitchen acclimating herself to my weird organizational style. Then she fed me a hard cooked egg, grandma's kielbasa, and fresh horseradish while the oven preheated. When the oven was ready, she roasted a boned lamb leg (modified from a recipe in the April 2010 Cuisine at Home) and we all chit-chatted while the lamb cooked.

Oh, the lamb was delicious! It was cooked perfectly, with an excellent crunchy garlic-herb crust, and I wish I'd had more of an appetite to appreciate it properly *sob*

Happily, my mother left us with all the left-overs! ♥ mom so much! Not only did she bring us excellent noms and leave us with a fridge full of food, she offered to come up occasionally and do some housekeeping!  (The Husband means well, but men don't see the dirt women see).

Easter Dinner, 2010

~ Roasted Lamb ~

~ Paula Deen's Au Gratin Carrots ~

~ Pickled Beets ~

~ Steamed Peas ~

~ Colored Eggs ~

~ Grandma's Kielbasa ~

~ Olives ~

~ Warm Rolls and Butter ~


04 April 2010

Cat Cuteness

We picked a new scratching post up at Agway a few weeks ago, as we thought the cats probably deserved a new post every ten years or so. The Husband was rather attached to a huge carpeted scratching post/kitty condo arrangement on display, but we knew we would never get it in our car so ended up with the economy version instead -- a regular carpeted post with a kitty-sized platform on top. I wasn't sure any of the cats would go for nesting in it as looked a little on the wobbly side and, at first, it seemed I was right. The furry horde ignored the new post entirely ... until I sprayed it with catnip! Now, it is pretty much every one's favorite hangout.

I like my new post

And, yes, he knows exactly how cute his is.

02 April 2010

On Hiatus?

Well, I fell down a short flight of stairs going in to work Wednesday morning and broke my right ankle.  I'll likely be out of commission for quite a while -- I have surgery scheduled for Tuesday, then there will be three months of recuperation, and probably another surgery before I get into any intensive physiotherapy.

So that's the spring and summer shot.

Right now, I don't know what will become of this blog if I won't be cooking or sewing for the foreseeable future.   What's Savory Tart if it isn't about food?