It’s All About the Sides

I don’t know about you but the side dishes for many holiday or everyday dinners are my favorites. There is nothing like homemade apples sauce, broccoli au gratin, mashed potato casserole (just one of my favorites), homemade cranberry sauce and so much more.  When eating my  holiday diner, I have very little of the “main” dish meat on my plate but a lot of the sides. Frequently, I put a little bit of every side on my plate and then go in for seconds of my favorites.  We have some tried and true sides that we always must have for our holidays.  It seems mashed potatoes (I think there would be a revolt if we did not serve some sort of potato), always make an appearance at holidays but also many times at our family dinner table.  But, why not have some of these special sides for your everyday dinners? Isn’t every night/day you sit down to a meal with your family special?  No matter how many times I serve roasted pork, homemade apples sauce is always a favorite accompaniment.  And don’t even think about jarred aka non-homemade apple sauce!!  It just does not compare.

This month at the Council on Aging, I concentrated on side dishes.  With the upcoming holidays, I thought it would be a welcomed segment.  So, I hope you enjoy these side dishes.  I know my family will this Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Here is the link to the What’s Linda Cooking episode.  I hope enjoy watching it as much as I did filming it and the seniors had enjoying this feast!!!  YUM!!!

Mashed Potato Casserole
6 large all purpose potatoes
1 small onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup or so of chicken stock
1/4 cup or so of butter
salt to taste
4 ounces of shredded Mozzarella cheese or cheddar cheese
Place peeled and cubed potatoes into a large pot with water to cover.  Add salt.  Boil until tender.  Drain.
Meanwhile, sauté onion in butter or olive oil. When onion is almost done, add minced garlic.  Sauté for another minute.  Add to potatoes and mash.  Add chicken stock, butter and shredded cheese.
Put into a large baking dish.  If desired, add more cheese on top or buttered bread crumbs.  Bake at 400 for about 20 -30 minutes.
Broccoli & Cheese Casserole
20 ounces broccoli florets (can be frozen)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 butter
3/4 cups milk
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 sleeve Ritz type crackers
¼ cup butter, melted
Steam broccoli until just tender.  Put into a large baking dish.
In a sauce pan, add butter until melted.  Add  flour and cook for about 1 minute.  Slowly add about 1 cup of milk,  whisking to incorporate.  It will thicken.  If too thick, add a little more milk.  Take off the heat and add about half the shredded cheese.  Stir until melted.  Add cheese sauce to broccoli and mix until broccoli is coated.
Melt about 1/4 cup of butter.  Mix with a sleeve of crushed Ritz type crackers.  Top broccoli with the cracker mixer and remaining cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Apple Sauce
About 4 lbs Tart apples
1/4 cup sugar or to taste
1 lemon juiced
Cinnamon, to taste (optional)
1/2 cup or so of Water
Peel, core and dice apples and add to a large sauce pan.  Add a little bit of water, lemon juice and sugar..  Cook for about 20 minutes until apples are soft.  Mash to desired consistency.  Add cinnamon to taste.

Sometimes No Recipe is Best

Yesterday I got an incredible deal on chicken legs…the package cost me $.50!!!!  Combining a coupon with a good price of $1.09/lb chicken legs, the out of pocket price was only $.50.  Score!!!  Or should I say, TOUCHDOWN!  But they only had 1 package of chicken legs and I have about 10 coupons.  Raincheck, please!!!

Instead of putting the chicken legs in the freezer, I opted to cook them right away.  I’m channeling my friend Chris who does not freeze anything…just buys enough meat for the day or a few days.  Okay, what happens when the bird flu comes and the stores close down???  I know, she’ll come to my house!  She knows I’ll let her in!

Back to the recipe,  digging through my incredibly packed organized refrigerator, I spied some leftover tomato puree, check.  Onions, check, check…oh wait, my daughter always complains about onions in her food.  Should I put onions with their incredible flavor or not.  NOT.  I don’t want to hear it from her and I know I can get some deliciousness without the onion.  And then some wine, check, check, check!

Then I got down to business constructing our yummy meal, wine bottle glass in hand.  With a meal like this, the chicken needs to be browned, even though the skin will soften up with the addition of liquid…mantra, browning means flavor.  On the chicken went some salt, pepper, Italian Seasoning…the normal suspects in my cooking.  In the pan, heating to a nice simmer was some olive oil and then the chicken goes in.  There is nothing, I mean nothing like the smell of chicken roasting or sautéing on the stove top.  Am I right or am I right?  Just agree with me!

When the chicken was sufficiently browned on all sides, in went the tomato puree (about 1 cup) a pinch of red pepper flakes and about 1 cup of wine. This is where it gets a little dicey.  I know I should have used red wine but I only had an expensive fabulous bottle of wine from Ocean State Job Lot.  Yes, I said Ocean State Job Lot for $3.99!!!! And it was a white wine.  In went the garlic. I don’t like to sauté garlic because I end up burning it, so I put it in with the sauce.  On went the cover and the smells in my house went up another notch of deliciousness.  It simmered for about an hour.  Add some al dente linguini and perfectly toasted garlic bread and dinner was done.  Another success in my kitchen.  Well, maybe not…I was going to add some zucchini to make it a little healthier but unfortunately my zucchini had seen better days and ended up in the compost pile.  Not so much of a win on that front.  But the meal was fantastic AND the leftovers were packed up for lunches. That’s what we had for dinner.  What did you make for dinner?

 

One Pot Bacon Chicken Ranch Pasta

As many of you know, for the past 10 years (+/-) I have been volunteering at the Council on Aging presenting a cooking class once every month.  I try not to repeat recipes…especially now since for the past 5 years, ORCTV has been filming them.  I can’t have my fans (LOL) seeing the same recipes!!!

This month, I have been thinking about Buffalo Chicken Dip.  We’ve had a few pool parties and it seems like I have been making this dip a lot. I mean a lot!!!  I thought it would be great as a pasta dish but not so much with the buffalo sauce for the Council on Aging (Flashback to a sale on Hot Italian Sausage and eye’s watering because it was too hot)!

Take out the buffalo sauce and add bacon.  Change the ranch dressing to ranch seasoning and we suddenly have Bacon Chicken Ranch Pasta.  I tested it out on my weary wonderful family!  I got a definite thumbs up from my daughter.  My husband was not as impressed but he doesn’t like any type of dip, so I didn’t really take his opinion into account.  (he would say, I never listen to him, but that’s another story and another post and maybe some counseling???!!!). Anyway, I cooked it for the Council and it was a big hit.  Disclaimer…this is NOT a diet recipe!!!  Yes, it is rich and delicious.  It’s not something I would make every week.  But it’s sooooo good.  Try it and let me know what you think!  Here’s the link to the video: One Pot Bacon Chicken Ranch Pasta with Spinach

One Pot Bacon Chicken Ranch Pasta with Spinach

2 cups chicken stock or water (chicken stock is better)
1/2 packet of ranch seasoning mix or about 2 tbs
oz cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces, softened
1 lb boneless skinless chicken
cups uncooked penne pasta (6 oz)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
8 ounces fresh spinach
In 12-inch nonstick skillet, brown cut up bacon.  Add cut up chicken sprinkled with ranch seasoning and sauté.
 
Once browned, add cream cheese cubed and melt.  Add 2 cups of water and pasta.  Bring to a boil.  
Add spinach.  Cover; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 14 to 16 minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove from heat.
Add 1/2 of the cheddar cheese and mix.   Add the remaining cheddar on top.  Let stand 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Wowie Cake, Cocoa Vinegar Cake, Depression Cake…Whatever You Call It, It’s Yummy!

 

My mother used to make what she called a Wowie Cake…we loved it! My kids also loved it because it has no eggs.  Translation…no eggs = kids can lick the bowl and spoon without Mom worrying about salmonella.

It’s one of those cakes that is so easy to make because it just has a few ingredients.  Super moist and I have not met anyone who did not love this cake.  My Uncle Johnny loved, loved, loved this cake!  My mom would make it for him when he would visit.  I make it for my father in law because he loves it just plan with a little powdered sugar sprinkled on top.  My daughter loves it with chocolate or vanilla frosting.  My niece just loves it because it’s vegan and she can eat it!  I really have not met anyone who tried it and didn’t love it.

I have also used it instead of the devil’s food cake mix in the Pampered Chef’s Turtle Fudge Skillet Cake.  YUM!!!  Just double the recipe for the cake and it works out perfectly.  Plus, I like that it doesn’t come from a box.  You can really say, “Yes, I made it from scratch!”

Here’s the recipe for an 8 X 8 size.  I love that size because in the summer, why, yes, I can make a cake in the toaster oven and not heat up the house.  Just double the recipe for the 9 x 13 size or 2 layer cake.  Enjoy!!!

My Mom’s Wowie Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp oil
1 tbs vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cold water
Whisk dry ingredients together.  Add oil, vinegar, vanilla and water.  Whisk well.  Pour into a 8 “ square pan, Brownie Pan, CupCake pan or mini cup cake muffins.  Bake at 350 for 15 – 35 minutes depending upon the size pan you use.  Once cooled, dust with confectionary sugar.

 

Is it too hot to cook?

Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake
Carnitas over Rice

It has been hot in Massachusetts.  I am sure it’s not Arizona hot but it’s hot.  And I don’t have central air.  Someday, yes, I will get it for the 4 weeks each year it ends up being hot.  But this summer, we have had a few heat waves.  More than normal.  I know my Florida friends are not feeling sorry for me…BUT YOU ALL HAVE AIR CONDITIONING!  OKAY, I am feeling better now…

August is also the time that I get new products and recipes to test…normally these are typical “fall/winter” recipes.  Recipes like, stew, slow roasted carnitas, roasted chicken…the type of cooking that I love to do.  But, I don’t like to heat up my kitchen. Who would when your house is 90 degrees!!!  This year is no different with the types of recipes.  But, one big difference is we have the product I have been asking to add to the line for the past 20 years.  A pressure cooker!!!  OMG!!  This is a game changer.  And I have been loving cooking with it because I can cook all these slow roasted meals in a fraction of time but it does not heat my kitchen!!!!  LOVE IT!!! Plus, I have been asking for this product for 20 years!!!  They finally listened to Linda Medeiros!!! It’s about time!

Not only have I been testing whole FROZEN chicken, beef stew, carnitas but also baking Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake (you are welcome, my family)!!!!  Amazing!  Not heating up my kitchen has been a wonderful thing.  Cooking a frozen whole chicken in 45 minutes is a wonderful thing!!  Cooking dried beans in 15-45 minutes without soaking is a wonderful thing!!! Oh, maybe I’ll make some Boston Baked Beans…just because I can!

I am so in my element with my Quick Cooker!!!  I have a feeling you will be seeing a lot of new recipes and posts from me because I have been cooking a lot!  My family is very happy! Wait until I start using my new baking pans…

If you have a pressure cooker, what is your favorite thing to cook?

 

Pan Roasted Chicken with Zucchini

This is the no recipe, recipe!  Although this recipe can be adapted for different meats and veggies, I ended up with chicken and zucchini in this dish because zucchini is plentiful this time of year and it’s plain yummy. There is no secret, I love chicken.  It’s such a versatile ingredient and it’s inexpensive compared to other types of meat.

Believe it or not, the day I cooked this recipe, I had a hard time finding boneless/skinless chicken thighs at a good price.  I ended up going to 3 different stores…1 did not have any chicken thighs, 1 had bone-in thighs at a ridiculously high price and the 3rd had them with bone-in at $.89/lb.  I went with the 3rd option and deboned the thighs. All the skin and bones went into my Quick Cooker for a chicken stock.  I could have made this recipe with the bone in but at the Council on Aging, I need to be able to make the main meal in about 30 minutes, so boneless was the way to go.  At home, I would have just gone with the bone in.

As I mentioned in the video, I normally serve this with mashed potatoes which are my favorite (yum!!!) but I was feeling a little lazy and did not want to peel potatoes for 30 people (I know, I know…stop being so lazy!!!). So opted for rice.  It did come out great with the rice but really would have been better with the potatoes.

Well, here’s the recipe I adapted.  By the way, if you do want one of my cool…amazing Non Stick Stainless Skillets which helps make an amazing pan sauce with easy cleanup, just click the link.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Zucchini

1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1   small onion
  • 1 pkg-8 ounces mushrooms
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup white wine or chicken broth

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F . Heat the oil in a Stainless Steel Skillet or Stainless Non Stick Stainless Skillet over medium-high heat for 3–5 minutes.
  2. Season both sides of the chicken with salt & pepper. Place the chicken in the pan and sear for 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and sear for 1 additional minute. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, slice onion & mushrooms. Cut the tomatoes in half. Cut the zucchini into 1″.
  4. Add the onions, mushrooms, minced or pressed garlic and salt to the pan. Saute for 2–3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the fond or little brown bits.
  5. Add the wine or chicken stock and dijon mustard. Simmer, uncovered, for 3–5 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  6. Add the tomatoes and zucchini to the pan and stir to combine. Place the chicken on top of the mixture and bake for 12–15 minutes, or until the chicken in cooked. If you use bone in chicken, increase the baking time to about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

What’s Linda Cooking???-Chicken Cranberry Salad and Broccoli Pasta Salad

Chicken Cranberry Salad and Broccoli Pasta Salad

As many of you know, each month I teach a cooking class at the Rochester Council on Aging.  I have been doing this for the past 10 years.  Of course, my mother has yet to attend, but that’s another story!!!  When I am a senior, I think I will hang out at the Council on Aging because these seniors never seem to get old…I think it has something to do with their activity level and that they are around people all the time…ahem, MOM!!!!  Anyway, she will be angry when she reads this…this month because it’s July and I did not want to grill out in the scorching heat, I made Chicken Salad with Cranberries and a Broccoli Pasta Salad.  Fabulous recipes!  I do not like getting chicken salad from the deli because it has too much mayo (and I love mayo) and other stuff that I don’t like.  So try this recipe and I think you’ll love it!!!

 

 

 

Chicken Salad Recipe
2 lbs cooked chicken ideally pouched with parsley, onion, seasoned salt and bouillon cubes
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing or homemade (olive oil, wine vinegar, shallot, garlic)
A good dollop of mayonnaise, approximately 1/2 cup
1/8 tsp. salt
dash paprika
1 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup-1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
1 small onion chopped
Poach chicken in water to cover, parsley, onion, seasoned salt and bouillon cubes.  Take chicken out, cool and shred.  If doing the night before, store in refrigerator.
In separate bowl, combine olive oil, wine vinegar, chopped shallot and minced garlic.  Whisk to combine.  Add mayo, salt, paprika, honey and mix.
Add mayo mix, chicken, cranberries, chopped onion and any other mix ins.  Mix.  Serve on rolls, croissants or on top of salad greens.
BROCCOLI PASTA SALAD

2 cups (8 ounces) uncooked medium shell pasta
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups broccoli florets, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup golden raisins
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, drained and crumbled
1/3 cup sunflower seed kernels

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse under cold running water.
  2. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, vinegar and sugar in large bowl; mix well. Add pasta, broccoli, onion, raisins, bacon and sunflower seeds; mix gently. Cover; refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.

Menu Plan week of July 9th

Another week of menu plans! I like making my menu plans based on what I have on hand and what’s on sale. It keeps my grocery budget in check. This week I ran into a great sale at Aldi on ground beef (93% 7% fat!!!!) and pork cutlets.  Although they are not on my menu plan this week, they will be making an appearance in the next few weeks.

You may wonder why I make a 4 night menu…because I like the structure of knowing what I am going to be cooking but I also like the flexibility to add other menu items.  Plus, I like to leave some room for leftovers.  Most of our leftovers do get packed into my husband and daughter’s lunch boxes but sometimes I make so much food that I have some extra for a night’s meal.

So here is the plan!

Day 1:  Fried Chicken Cutlets & Zucchini

Day 2: Grilled Fajita Pizza

Day 3:  Grilled Pork Chops with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Salad

Day 4: Citrus Basil Salmon with Salad & Rice Pilaf

Enjoy!!!

Menu Plan Week of June 17th!!!

I am trying to stay away from a lot of processed carbs…very tough for me since I have not met a carb that I didn’t love!!  But, I need to lose some weight and eat a little healthier.  So, my menu plan reflect my new eating style.  Yes, you will see there are some potatoes on the menu but my family loves them and I will try to not eat them!!!  Wish me luck!!

I make my menu plans based on what I have on hand and what’s on sale…mostly at Market Basket…and what I may find at Friendly Fruit.  So here it is.  There are links to the recipes from the websites where I found the recipes.

Day 1

From I Breath I’m Hungry and All Recipes:  Salsbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy and Mashed Cauliflower

Day 2

From All Recipes:   Roasted Chicken with Roasted Potatoes, Carrots & Onions

Day 3

From Kasey Trenum:   Creamy Parmesan Garlic Pork Chops with Roasted Broccoli

Day 4 From Cooking With Mamma C:  Lemon Parmesan Cod with Garlic Butter and Salad

And here is the Grocery List:

Dairy
8 tbs butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 small wedge Parmesan cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Pantry (Items you probably have but may need to replenish)
Worcestershire sauce
garlic powder
dried onion flakes
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil
onion powder
Italian seasoning
paprika
Dry Goods
3/4 cup almond flour
1 can beef broth
1 can chicken broth
Produce
1 small bunch parsley
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
4 yellow onions
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 head garlic
1 stalk celery
4 medium potatoes
1 lb carrots
1 lemon
Meats
2 lbs ground chuck (80/20)
1 (3 pound) whole chicken, giblets removed
1.5 lb center cut boneless pork chops
1 1/2 pounds fresh cod

 

Oven Fried Chicken Thighs

Oven Fried Chicken with Chopped Salad

Every month for the past 10 years or so, I have been teaching a cooking class at the Council on Aging in Rochester.  I look forward to this class every month. It’s so much fun!  And I cook for about 20-30 hungry people.

This month, I made one of my favorites, Oven Fried Chicken Cutlets!  YUM!!!  And it did come out yummy!  I normally choose my menus like I choose my family’s menu plans…based on what’s on sale or what I have in my freezer.  In the case of the cooking class…based on what the Council on Aging may have received in donations or what may have been left over from another function.  One month, they called and said they had pork loin roasts, so I made the roast with potatoes and veggies or a Hot Brown with Pork instead of Turkey.  Easy!  It’s the same way many people plan their menus.  Except, I need to be able to do most of the cooking in about 30 minutes AND feed about 20-30 people.  No problem!  Of course, I do some of the prep ahead of time.  Who wants to see me dredge and coat 30 chicken cutlets?  NOBODY!!!  So I leave about 3-4 for on camera and the cooking class.  Easy!  Then I hope that I have enough to say to fill up the 25-30 minute time slot.  Most of the time it works our perfectly but sometimes, not so much.  I’ll let you be the judge of this time.

Here’s the video:

What’s Linda Cooking-Oven Fried Chicken & Salad

And here’s the recipe:

Oven Fried Chicken Thighs
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbs Italian Seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 eggs and dash of milk
Olive Oil
Mix crumbs with seasoning.  Put in a shallow bowl.  Put flour in another shallow bowl and eggs in a third shallow bowl.  Dredge chicken in flour, then egg and finally in breadcrumbs.  Place on a greased sheet pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
Chopped Salad
1 cup cooked ditalini pasta or other type of small pasta
1 package of torn romaine lettuce (8 cups)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
1 firm ripe avocado
3 sliced green onions
6 sliced of cooked bacon crumbled
1 cup blue or feta cheese
1/2 cup wine wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to Taste along with Italian Seasoning
Cook pasta according to directions.  Drain and rinse under cook water.  Drain well.  Set in large salad bowl.
Chop lettuce, avocado, tomato and slice green onions and set in salad bowl.
Cook bacon to crisp and crumble.  Add to the bowl with the cheese.
Make dressing by combining vinegar, olive oil, chopped shallot, minced garlic and heavy cream.  Add salt, pepper and Italian Seasoning.  Whisk until thickened.  Add to salad and toss.
To serve, add salad to plates and top with sliced oven fried chicken.  Enjoy!