Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Butter-Fried Sweet Potatoes – Not Yams!

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The following side dish is a great alternative to your common potatoes. Whether you’re a culinary guru and are just trying to add a little orange (steamed carrots are not the only option) to the greens and yellows on the dinner plate, looking for more Vitamin A sources, complex carbohydrates, something fried and yummy, or if you’re trying to add a little healthy sweetness to the mix, this side dish may be for you.

But before we begin, lets not confuse this vegetable with Yams! I actually detest that, as Yams are not even related to a Sweet Potato, yet many folks, even from the south, say “I like those fried yams!” A freakin’ Yam is the typical given name for a plant species in the genus Dioscorea (family Dioscoreaceae) that also forms edible tubers albeit they are much larger. These crazy-growing Yams are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Oceania. Although the sweet potato has, for whatever reason, been wildly referred to as a Yam in parts of the United States and Canada, it is not part of the family Dioscoreaceae, rather it is in the Morningglory family Convolvulaceae.

Even without all the scientific babble, Yams can grow up to nearly 5 feet in length, so be sure to let me know when you have seen a Sweet Potato grow to such size!

Oh, this food-related post is about Butter-Fried Sweet Potatoes, so lets get on with it.

First of all, these are Sweet Potatoes, depicted below:

sweet_potatoes

After you have realized that you are taking on some mighty Sweet Potatoes, the next thing to do is wash them and peel ’em. Ya know, sort of like you would common white potatoes and/or spuds, just before your make mashed potatoes. But hold your horses from this point, as you don’t begin to slice anything yet, and we sure as heck ain’t mashing anything (excuse my attempt to sound southern). Below, I’ll show an image of what step you should be at now, after peeling your potatoes. Please note, the plate of trimmings to the right in that image, as they are great to add to your compost pile or to just throw them out in your garden spot as vegetable waste, if you are into such things as the recycling of table scraps and organic compost, etc.

sweet_potatoes_1

Okay, so you have your peeled Sweet Potatoes, not Yams, and now it is time to soften these suckers up, before they get sliced and butter-fried. To do so, you need to grab a big pot, fill it with water and heat to a boil. …Add those orange potatoes into the boiling water and boil for about 6 or 7 minutes. Check out the steam below, as we let the good times roll on the stove-top…

sweet_potatoes_2

From here, you drain the hot water, add some cold water and let cool for a few seconds. Then, you take each potato out and begin to slice into about 3/8th inch slices. Take a large skillet out, add a fair amount of butter and sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar around the pan. After everything gets hot and melted, add your sweet potatoes and begin to fry. Of course, feel free to add a little salt and black pepper onto at least one side of the potatoes while frying. The process should look something like this:

sweet_potatoes_3

Now, although I elected to not go to the trouble to seek out wild, large, crazy Yams, the common Sweet Potatoes when butter-fried with sugar, salt, and pepper, usually turn out like this:

sweet_potatoes_4

Well, since this is a food-related post about a side dish, why not add an image of the current main dish and/or entree? Anyway, in addition to these deliciously butter-fried yams, oops, I mean sweet potatoes, I plan on adding several other items like asparagus, turnip greens (no fried squash today) and so on, to some oven-baked, well-seasoned and slowly cooked chicken thighs, as shown below:

baked_chicken_thighs

—End of Post

Fried Green Roma Tomatoes

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I’m sure that many of you have heard about the southern tradition involving fried green tomatoes, but have ya ever tried ’em? Well, even if you have, I’m sure most of you have always used the standard full-sized tomatoes like Big Boy, Better Boy, etc. Hey, I’ve always did the same thing, because that is all I have ever heard people talk about, when concerning this blissful, fried dish of tomato madness.

Well, the other day I got a little creative after realizing that a few of my tomato plants turned out to be Roma tomatoes, and did a quick test-cook to see if there is a better alternative for fried green tomatoes. Oh, if you are wondering, Roma tomatoes are small, pear-shaped tomatoes that are often used in sauces and/or during cooking (also known as Italian tomatoes) because they are more meaty and contain less seeds and juice. I don’t prefer them over the common, larger tomatoes when it comes to eating them in a ripe state or in salads, etc., because they just don’t have the juice and robust flavor like the others. But we are not talking about red tomatoes here…

Anyway, here is a quick snapshot of some green, Roma tomatoes, below:

roma_tomatoes

Another reason why I decided to try this, is because I thought that the meatier Roma tomatoes would fair better when fried, as opposed to the traditional, large, juicy tomatoes. At any rate, I couldn’t help but notice that these smaller tomatoes would also be easier to maneuver and flip around in the skillet, sort of like when you fry squash, zucchini, and/or okra, for example (it’s obvious I’m from the south, eh?). But anyway, there is only one way to find out, right? So I started to slice these little devils…

sliced_green_tomatoes

After you have sliced ’em up in about 1/4th inch slices, it is now time to add the batter. Unlike most people, I choose against the whole “egg wash” hooey, as I have had the best flavor and texture when battering wet food directly into the batter, as opposed to using the pre-batter egg/milk dip thingy. Although I think my simple batter is the best in the world, you can use whatever type you desire. I prefer yellow corn meal mixed with a decent amount of seasoned salt, black pepper and a few tablespoons of sugar.

I suppose I could show an image of the battered & seasoned green Roma tomatoes, but I think you have a pretty good idea of what that may look like.

Well, it is time to cook, so have a large skillet ready with the oil of your choice (I prefer canola oil), preheated of course, and fry those suckers until golden brown on each side. After they are done, drain on a plate with paper towels and season to taste with salt, pepper, hot sauce (even ketchup, if ya like) and/or whatever floats your boat.

To cut to the chase, the verdict is in: Roma Tomatoes, even though it may not be as popular, make for the best fried green tomatoes I have ever ate. If cooked right, they almost seem like “tomato chips,” however that may sound. Hey, check out the finished product below: 

fried_green_roma_tomatoes

Side Note:  When I originally wrote this recipe, it was at the peak of garden season and I had plenty of green tomatoes at the time. However, the other day, since it is still winter time, I applied this same cooking method to some store-bought Red Roma Tomatoes and it still turned out good. They wasn’t as firm, but still fairly tasty.  Since store-bought tomatoes are usually bland, I compensated by adding extra seasoning to the batter; cheers!

—End of Post

Semi-related Blog Link:  “Buy Stainless Steel Skillets, Frying Pans, and Cookware Online

Spicy ‘Stuffed Mackerel’ Patties

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canned_mackerel Although I generally prefer fried Salmon patties over Mackerel, I can’t help but notice how the cost of canned Mackerel is about half the price of Salmon, so why not try to spice it up a bit and make it worth the purchase?

 Anyway, if you’re a seafood lover, you most likely not only enjoy a large variety of fish along with those tasty scavengers known as shrimp, but you also probably enjoy those scrumptious crab cake patties, as well. Well, that’s what I attempted to do with the canned Mackerel, and incorporated some ‘stuffed crab’ techniques into those affordable Mackerel, to save me a few dollars from buying canned Salmon all the time.

…Hmm, does anybody else just want to skip this spicy recipe and go creek fishing? No? Okay… Now that the frugality of seafood bliss is out of the way, lets get started, shall we…

mackerel_fillets

First step, is to take the Mackerel out of the can. Wow! Who would have thought? Anyway, have a paper plate or whatever standing by, as you will need to remove the bones and outer skin layers, etc. [I give the scraps to my outdoor cats] Put all of the good meat into a big mixing bowl, and add a large egg into the mix and set aside. Now, what are you going to stuff the patties with? I use a small tomato that I core out (throw out the juicy parts) and dice into small pieces, a couple pieces of raw onion chunks, and one decent sized Jalapeno pepper (I’m currently using the ones from my garden, but store-bought will work). …Before we add the batter and mix it all together, here is a picture below, that depicts this current step.

mackerel_recipe

Finely chop your jalapenos, onions, and tomatoes, and add them into the big mixing bowl that contains your Mackerel and one large egg. Now, sprinkle a fair amount of seasoned salt into the bowl along with black pepper, and add 5 heaping tablespoons of Corn Meal. Normally, I’d only add 4, but we are adding an extra one since we are “stuffing” these patties with extra ingredients.

Mix it all up with a big spoon, then make two big patties out of the mix by hand. It should look something like this, as shown below:

mackerel_patties

Well folks, it is now time to fry! Grab a large skillet and preheat the oil, then gently add your spicy ‘stuffed Mackerel’ patties into the hot oil. Important step: Do not turn and/or flip over until about 5 minutes or so, or else you’ll risk the chance of your patties falling apart. The first flip over is the most crucial, but after that, let them cook another 4 or 5 minutes on the other side, and the rest is up to you, as to how “done” and/or brown ya want ’em to get. I added a side order of golden-brown french fries (crinkle cuts) to my plates (to serve two people [somebody please add the Ketchup!]), and this is how mine turned out:

fried_mackerel

Spicy 'Stuffed Mackerel' Patties

—End of ‘Quick & Easy’ Recipe Post

Growing & Cooking Okra – The Health Benefits of…

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Whenever I mention Okra, there is usually somebody that will say something like this:  “Say whaaa?  You eat Okra?  Eeew!”  Ha-ha!  But seriously, this stuff is really good and I think more people would like it, if they’d just try it or perhaps cook it a few different ways, etc.

okra

I will say, at least in the U.S., Okra seems to be more of a “southern thing,” sort of like Fried Green Tomatoes.  One must remember, here in the south, we’ll batter & fry almost anything possible, hence forth the obesity problem at hand; LOL!

At any rate, I just happened to think about this particular veggie today, when contemplating what I’m going to do for the garden season of 2012.  It seems that every gardening season is different for me, since I have moved several times of late.  This year I have limited space, and I’m thinking about getting the most out of my yard by doing something I have never done before, which would be planting in multiple sections and in strategic areas.  I mean, I planted in sections once before, when I had a big open field; I had 2 separate growing areas, but one of them was mostly a corn field

Now that I have normal-sized yard without much room for a big garden, I’m going to have to get creative, to say the least.  Anyway, this post isn’t going to be highly informative or anything,  just me rambling about cooking and growing okra along with a few of the health benefits it has, and so on…

Okra is extremely easy to grow and doesn’t have any special requirements that stand out.  If you can grow tomatoes and peppers, you should have no problem growing okra.  Although many people recommend starting this plant from seed sown directly into your garden, I find it easier to just buy the plants small and transplant them into your garden.  Yes, it costs slightly more but it is my garden and if I want to take a shortcut, it is my business!  Ha!  The only seeds I usually sow directly into the soil are the large ones, like corn, squash, zucchini, etc.
I have read before that it is a good idea to rotate your okra crop (change locations) every year because they are very susceptible to diseases from the soil and those beloved garden pests.
If you have fairly decent soil or use organic compost and whatnot, you will most likely not have to even worry about fertilizer.  Or, you can take the easy way out (if you don’t use compost, etc.) and apply a small amount of miracle grow (or other types of fertilizer) a few times, when your plant starts growing larger – to insure a good yield.

It is a good idea to pick your okra at a small size, or it will be too tough to eat and the seeds in the pods will be quite large.
I usually pick it anywhere from 3.5 to 5 inches, albeit I have picked some a little larger and they still be tender – depending on how fast they grew.  Speaking of that, if you have a lot of okra plants and they start to yield, if you do not go out there every day and pick ’em, you’ll have green pods coming out of your bunghole!  Yes folks, they really produce quick, once they start to take off!

I’m not going to spend any more time talking about growing this easy-to-grow vegetable.  Now how about cooking these tasty delights?
Being from the south, I can tell ya right now, I prefer to batter them in corn meal and fry those suckers in oil.   I slice up a good mess, roughly 3/8ths to 1/2 inch slices, bread them with my flour & seasoning, and drop them in a preheated skillet full of canola oil.

I have also boiled them in a mixture of water, soy sauce, and pepper seasoning, and they turn out great.  When I boil ’em, I keep the pods whole.  I have also pickled okra, although I wasn’t that impressed because it ended up tasting like pickles instead of okra, but whatever floats your boat!

There are many ways to use okra when cooking, not just the ways I mentioned above.  Many people put them in soups, stews, and stir-fry, as well.
Some people cook them with Lima beans, tomatoes and corn, which is something I believe they call “Okra Succotash.”

Now, what about those health benefits?
Like any organic vegetable that isn’t laced with pesticide and chemicals, it has obvious health benefits. …The usual vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, blah, blah, and so on and so forth.
However, there is a distinct quality in okra that is really good for your digestive tract.  The slime or “goo” in okra is a very beneficial fiber and helps lubricate the large intestine.  Okra’s mucilage (that slime or goo stuff that forms when you cook it) binds cholesterol and bile acid which helps flush the toxins and excess cholesterol out of the body via your intestinal tract.
Okra has been known to help people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) along with other ailments.
Here’s a web page I just found online, that speaks about some of these health benefits in further detail:  http://www.pyroenergen.com/articles07/okra-health-benefits.htm

Well, enough about this okra subject.  Now I’m ready to fry some, but I don’t have any at the moment.  I look forward to growing some this year, though, along with several other things; good luck with your crops and enjoy the garden season of 2012.  Cheers!

—End of post “Growing & Cooking Okra – The Health Benefits of…”

Fried Green Tomatoes – Southern Tradition

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One of the joys of having your own garden, is that you decide what goes into the soil and you determine when you want to pick it.

It’s not like you can go, at least not around here, to the market and purchase green tomatoes, for example.
Fried green tomatoes is what I like to call a “southern tradition,” although the act of frying these green delights have become more widespread – as more & more folks try them for the first time…and love ’em! The southern U.S., especially the Southeastern area, is notorious for frying anything that can possibly be fried.
On a side note: Maybe that is why I recently read about Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama being the top fattest states of America.
You can read more about that here: http://today24news.com/health/mississippi-tennessee-and-alabama-are-top-fattest-states-of-america-301372

Yep, that Southern Tradition involving the good ol’ frying pan may be one of the many culprits towards health issues; but lets not ruin this post by talking about obesity; enjoy yourself for now and go grab some green tomatoes out of your garden and get the frying pan ready…

This is how I prepare them:

To serve two people, as one of the side items to the entree, I usually go out and grab 3 medium-sized green tomatoes. They don’t have to be totally unripe, either. In fact, some of the best tasting ones I’ve cooked, was the ones that were just starting to turn yellow-orange in spots – although I usually pick the big green ones.
I slice mine fairly thick, into at least 1/4th to 3/8th inch slices – put them on a plate and set aside.
On a separate plate, I pour out my batter mix using half flour and half corn meal. I then, add a decent amount of seasoned salt, black pepper, Season All, and just a small amount of sugar into the batter. I take a fork and mix it all up until the contents are evenly distributed.
I go ahead and add my oil into a large skillet and preheat it on medium-high; I use Canola oil.
I batter the green tomatoes and drop them into the hot oil.
I fry them fairly quickly over medium-high heat, and on the second turn over, I usually add Louisiana Hot Sauce to one side.
Fry them until desired doneness is achieved.

They are best served within an hour or so, but they can still be ate after refrigerating; they just won’t be crisp and will end up being more mushy and whatnot – upon re-heating from the fridge.

Fried_Green_Tomatoes

Extra tidbit:   If you end up with a lot of green tomatoes towards the end of the growing season and/or would like to know of a couple excellent ways to ripen them in a quicker fashion, look below…

The best way to ripen green tomatoes:  some folks have good luck by placing their unripe tomatoes in a cardboard box while covering them with newspaper or other means of cover – while placing them in a dark place.  Some experienced gardeners simply use a brown bag, by placing the green tomatoes into it and then crinkling or folding the bag semi-shut…so the ethylene gas can enhance the ripening process.  I’ve used both simple methods and they are very effective.   You can read more about the natural effects of ethylene gas, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene

Just remember, once you place your tomatoes in the refrigerator, whether ripe or not, the ripening process stops – so make sure they are at the desired ripeness before doing such.

Baked or Fried – What are Swai Fillets?

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You may have asked this question recently, due to the market boom of this less commonly known fish called “Swai.”
Due to its similar taste & appearance, it is often mistook as Basa – which is a completely different type of fish.
Other names for this fish are: Iridescent shark, Siamese shark, sutchi catfish, tra, and also known as striped catfish.

Back to the query at hand, Swai is simply a catfish found in Southeast Asia. A product of Vietnam, often farm raised, it is a budget catfish that is very friendly to your wallet. Since these fillets sell at a significantly cheaper price, it was worth a try. I’m pleased to say, this fish is totally decent and it can be cooked like most fish, such as the common catfish. I prefer it battered and deep fried in peanut oil, but it also bakes well with a slight amount of oil along with seasoned salt & spices.
Baked Swai Fillets: 450 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes – depending on the amount of fish. I must say, this fish takes well to extra seasoning, since pond raised Swai are rather mild in flavor.

Swai_fillets

Extra tidbit: For whatever reason, young Iridescent sharks (Swai) are often sold as pets for home aquariums. I do not recommend this unless you have a very, very large tank setup. Not only do they prefer to live in groups, they grow to be very large. Most home aquariums will not be big enough and will greatly stunt the growth of these Swai fish – as this will usually cause premature death & organ failure. So unless you have a massive fish tank, I’d stick to pond raising ’em. Besides, if you’re lucky enough to own a well stocked pond full of these catfish, you’ll have fun fishing out the full grown ones – for some good ol’ tasty deep frying action, or however you like to cook them – baked, sauteed, or fried.  😛

…Looking for a tasty side item for your Swai Fillets?  If so, visit the “Fried Green Tomatoes” page and get to cooking…

Shepherd’s Pie – Quick & Simple Recipe

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Below, I’ll provide a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. This is the quick version, using instant potatoes and basic ingredients.

A lot of people add extra vegetables to it, but I just kept it simple and only included all the stuff that is more filling and/or promotes utter satiety. This dish should be referred to as a “casserole” as opposed to “pie” but hey, I didn’t name the damn thing……

This recipe makes 4 servings…

Cook 1 lb. of ground chuck or lean hamburger meat. I usually season the beef with a slight amount of Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and black pepper.
As the beef is nearly done, add one tablespoon of dried, chopped onion into the frying pan – or, you can substitute this with a small, fresh onion that is finely chopped.
After the beef is done, drain & set aside.

Prepare your instant potatoes, using a 6-serving sized proportion; salt & pepper to taste. Depending upon the time you want to put into this cuisine, using 3 large potatoes, you can substitute the instant potatoes by making your own homemade mashed potatoes the way you normally would prepare them. But, if you’re in a hurry, instant potatoes should suffice.

Okay, you now have your ground chuck/beef & potatoes done and seasoned…  In a 9 x 9 baking pan, use half of the ground beef for the first layer, then use half of the potatoes as the second layer, then add 4 slices of American cheese as the 3rd layer.
Repeat the same process for the 4th, 5th, and 6th layer – beef / potatoes / cheese.

Bake this dish at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the top layer of the cheese starts to brown.

Cool & enjoy…

It should look something like this:

Excuse the incomplete pie, as my girlfriend spooned some out as I was going for the camera...

Excuse the incomplete pie, as my girlfriend spooned some out as I was going for the camera...

Quick Addition: Many people like to add corn along with other vegetables into their Shepherd’s Pie, so feel free to alter this simple recipe to better suit your taste. With or without the variations, it should turn out to be a tasty casserole. Yummy!

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Pickled Produce – Pickling for Quick Use…

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This simple process can apply for much of your produce via the garden, such as: sweet & hot peppers, okra, cucumbers, radishes, and so on.

pickling

Unlike the tedious canning process, pickling doesn’t require absolute sterility before being sealed nor do you have to worry about the absence of oxygen within the container or jar. The flavor, salinity and/or acidity of the pickling solution you decide to use along with being kept refrigerated, is all you’ll have to be concerned with – that is, if it’s consumed within a reasonable time period.

Pickling Peppers for quick use…

Take and wash the peppers; slice the sides or stab 3 or 4 holes into them with a knife. This needs to be done so the vinegar solution quickly penetrates the pepper inside & out.
If it is large peppers, for example, a full sized banana pepper, you may need to cut the top off, slice into quarters, and de-seed the pepper so it fits into the jar.
You can also slice your peppers into what is often called “nacho sliced peppers.” Often times, you’ll find Jalapenos sliced this way, at local grocery stores and markets.
Stuff the jar full of peppers along with whatever additional produce you choose to season it with; I usually throw in a few slices of onions.

The acidic solution: When pickling peppers, I typically use a 3:1 ratio – 3 parts vinegar (I use white vinegar) for every 1 part water. For flavor, I’ll add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt per jar.

Heat the vinegar/water solution until it is boiling. Pour the hot solution into the pepper-filled jars while leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace remaining in the jar.
Put the lid on the jar, allow to cool for a couple hours at room temperature and then place it in the refrigerator.
Some folks think they need to be ate within one or two months, while others claim that the peppers will keep for at least 6 months. One of the main reasons I use a 3:1 ratio is to increase the shelf life capacity. I have cooked with peppers that I’ve pickled this way, up to 9 or 10 months later.

I’d use the same 3:1 ratio for okra, as well.

On the other hand, when I pickle cucumbers for quick use, I only use a 1:1 ratio – since I know it will be ate within a few days.

I’ve never tried pickled radishes, but I’m sure they would turn out well. There are so many other things that can be pickled, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, onions, and whatnot.

But remember, unless you go through the canning process, you must keep them refrigerated and consume within a limited time frame.

Good luck with the yield in your garden and happy pickling……

3 Foods You Shouldn’t Overcook – Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, & Spinach

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There are some foods that when cooked wrong, it will leave such a bad impression on a person, they’ll never try it again.

There are three healthy foods that first come to mind – when thinking about some of the worst things to overcook: Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage and Spinach.

When you overcook the Brussels, for example, it releases a chemical that in turn, emits a sulfurous odor. Not only does it smell bad, it will have such a sulfuric taste that it will have many persons shoving them to the far end of their dinner plate. Take it from me, I’ve had them prepared the right way and the wrong way; there is a big difference. Same for Spinach, as overcooking these greens can totally ruin your opinion of this leafy vegetable – especially for the ones who are trying them for the first time or rarely eat them. As for Cabbage, overcooking can often lead to a less tasty result and a house full of unwanted, lingering odors. Below, I’ll provide some quick, easy-to-follow methods that’ll improve the end results of these healthy side dishes.

Spinach – Cooking Method

There is no need to boil spinach, as steaming is the best way to go. I usually buy them fresh, pre-cut, in bags.

Use about 12-16 ounces of spinach per large fry pan.

Rinse spinach; try to remove as much excess water as possible; set aside.

Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of Olive oil or Canola oil (whatever oil you desire).

Add 1/4 cup diced onion to the pan.

I usually add salt & pepper to the pan before adding spinach, but you can always season after it is done.

Over medium heat, using a large frying pan, cook the onions into the lightly salted & peppered oil.

Cook for 1 to 1.5 minutes, then:

Add spinach; you may have to press it down.

Cover immediately.

After it has cooked for about 1.5 minutes, remove cover and begin turning these lovely greens over.

Cover again and cook for another 1 to 1.5 minutes.

Remove from heat; drain and season to taste.

Unless you’re a chef with finesse, the whole process, counting the rinsing and seasoning, only takes around 7 or 8 minutes. It is as simple as that; presto, you’re done!

Cabbage – Cooking Method

Cut the cabbage as you like; some prefer it finely cut, I prefer square, big pieces.

Rinse cabbage, then add to a large pot. (I usually add 1/3 cup of water to the pot, to start the steaming process while I’m adding cabbage)

Add salt & pepper, as desired. (Optional) Add 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Cover with lid and cook over medium heat.

Stir occasionally while cooking for 5 minutes.

Uncover, add 2 tablespoons of butter, bring heat up to medium-high.

Leave uncovered and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes; stir.

Remove from heat.

Cover with lid or serve.

Brussels sprouts – Cooking Method

Fresh_brussels_sprouts

I usually buy them fresh-frozen, in 32 oz. bags. This is how I cook them and, of course, you can season or alter it as you like:

In a large sauce pan, add 5 or 6 cups of water or enough to cover the amount of sprouts being cooked.

Add about 1 ounce of Worcestershire sauce to the water, along with 2 tablespoons of sugar, a few drops of Hot Sauce (optional), an ample amount of Lawlry’s Seasoned Salt and McCormick’s Season All pepper (or you could use regular table salt & pepper), 1.5 tablespoons of butter (you could also replace this with a healthier oil).

Bring the prior contents to a boil.

Add the Brussels.

As soon as it returns back to a boil, remove from high heat, then simmer for 3 to 5 minutes over a lower temperature setting.

Remove from heat.

[From here, while the stove eye is off, I let mine soak for a while to absorb some extra flavor.]

Drain; season to taste.

That’s it…..There is no need to give them an infernal flame or sulfurous boiling, just a quick cook with seasoning and they’re done.

How to make your own Mexican Pizzas

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Who needs Taco Bell’s lame version and sorry excuse for a Mexican Pizza, when you can do it yourself! It involves several ingredients & steps, but it’s easy to make and doesn’t take that long to prepare.

For motivation, take a look below, at a finished product… Hungry yet? Okay, lets get started.

Homemade Mexican Pizza……

Freshly made pizza, ready for consumption...

Freshly made pizza, ready for consumption...

The Cooking Method for this Mexican Bliss:

You will need 2 large skillets, 1 small pot, 1 large pot, and 1 baking sheet, microwavable bowl, storage containers, pizza cutter, cutting board, etc., along with the following:

1 – 2 lb. package of 80/20 Ground Chuck (recommended) or 2.25lbs. of 73/27 Ground Beef.

1 – 16 oz. can of Refried Beans

2 – 14.5 oz. cans of Chili-ready tomatoes

1 – can of sliced black olives or 6 oz. of medium-pitted black olives that you slice yourself.

1 – 16 oz. jar of Taco Bell Thick ‘n Chunky Mild Sauce

1 – 1.25 oz. Taco Seasoning Mix (I get the Taco Bell brand)

1 – white or yellow onion (your choice)

2 to 4 fresh tomatoes, along with a fresh bag of green onions (scallions)

1 – 16 oz. bag of Kraft’s Mexican Style Four Cheese (Asadero, Queso, Quesadilla, Montery Jack)

2 packages (14.1 oz.) flour tortillas (10 per package)

The oil of your choice (I use canola)

Cooking Method:

Begin frying your ground beef/chuck in a large skillet.

While your beef if cooking, dice a handful of green onions and about half of your medium-sized white/yellow onion.

Cook the onions & scallions in with the beef, after the beef starts to brown. Finish cooking until meat is fully done.

Take a large pot and add your cooked beef and onions into it.

Now, add 1 can of Chili tomatoes and about half of the salsa into the large pot, along with the taco seasoning.

Let simmer for about 10 minutes.

Take another large skillet, add about 2 tablespoons of oil and pre-heat over medium heat.

Once the oil is hot, cook a tortilla (2 minutes each side); you want it crispy, but try to not burn them; you’ll need 2 tortillas per pizza.

After you have the desired amount of tortillas cooked and set aside, add the other can of tomatoes and the remaining amount of salsa and 2 handfuls of chopped green onions to a small pot; warm over low-medium heat.

Heat refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl.

Take (from the small pot) 2-4 tablespoons of tomato/salsa mix and add ’em into the beans.

Chop the rest of your remaining onions, scallions, fresh tomatoes (slice the black olives if you didn’t buy pre-sliced) and store in separate bowls or containers.

Take a large baking sheet; place one pre-cooked tortilla on bottom of pan.

Spread the beans on the top side of the first tortilla, from here, add your desired amount of meat on top of the beans; now, cover with the other tortilla; then, spread some (until it evenly covers) of the chili tomato/salsa mix over the second tortilla; now, add the mexican cheese (enough to cover); then, add your desired amount of sliced black olives, fresh tomatoes, green onions/scallions, diced onions.

Bake for 10 minutes @ 350 degrees or until cheese is melted.

Let cool for about 5 minutes; cut in fours with a pizza cutter.

It should look something like this:

2 Mexican Pizzas, right out of the oven...  Yummy!

2 Mexican Pizzas, right out of the oven... Yummy!

…You can use the leftovers for more Mexican Pizzas or add a little lettuce and make some soft Tacos! 😛