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?

 

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?

 

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 for Week of May 21st

I made a very easy Menu Plan for this week.  Delish had a great list of over 400 recipes that were quick and easy.  I just looked through and found 4 that I think my family would like.  Good for me because it was easy.  Good for my family because I think they will really love them.  Also good for my wallet because I had most of the meats in my freezer.  I just needed to shop for some of the side dishes.

The way I make our menu plans is a very easy process.

  1.  Check out my pantry and freezer
  2. View what’s on sale at my favorite store…Market Basket or Aldis
  3. Take into account my family’s preferences (and allergies…One of my daughters is allergic to poultry…I know, it’s a tough one.  I need to make sure to make any poultry on nights she is not eating home.)
  4. Use seasonal produce, when possible…especially because they tend to be on sale and fresher.

Here it is:

Maple Dijon Salmon

Shrimp Scampi Flatbread with Salad

Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Carrots and Mashed Potatoes

Balsamic Grilled Chicken & Zucchini

Let me know what you think of these recipes!!!!  Make it a great week!!!

Menu Plan for April 1st

Roasted Chicken

Here’s my weekly installment of my menu plan.  Yes, I am a little late but better late than never.  So, Ham Croquettes are on the menu this week.  You’re probably saying..”Ham Croquettes?  What are those?”  Well, they were popular probably in the 50’s to use up leftovers.  They use mashed potatoes, leftover meat and cheese to make a nice fried pancake or cylinder type dumpling.  Really good, when you make them right.  I have been trying to perfect these for a while.  I went to a great restaurant near me where they were on the  menu.  Of course, I ordered them and they were fantastic.

Since we had ham on the menu for Easter AND mashed potatoes, I figured I would try out this recipe for Ham and Oaxaca Cheese Croquettes.  We will see!!!

I hope you enjoy the menu plan.  If you have any questions, just let me know.  All recipes and the grocery list can be found on my website in the new section.  Menu Plan 

Day 1:  Ham & Oaxaca Cheese Croquettes & Salad

Day 2:  Stuffed Boneless Turkey Breast with Roasted Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Day 3:  Cod with Italian Crumb Topping with Steamed Broccoli and Rice Pilaf

Day 4: Pan-Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

Enjoy and let me know what you think!  Again, for all the recipes, just go to Menu Plan  under New Section for the recipes, links and grocery list.

 

Hurry, The Peaches Are Ready!

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Peaches, peaches, peaches everywhere!  A few weeks ago, I looked at my peach tree and noticed, there were a lot of small peaches on the tree.  A lot of peaches!!!  I was surprised because each year, against my wishes, my father-in-law would come and spray my peach tree with some type of pesticide.  I would tell him, we should do organic.  His response, “Then you’ll have no peaches!”  This year, due to some health issues, he did not spray the peaches.  I assumed (never do that), I would have no peaches.  Wrong.

Plus, my woodchuck is no where to be seen.  I think he may have been done in by my busy road (or old age, cayotes, etc).  The woodchuck would routinly climb into the tree and eat the peaches.  I never realized woodchuck’s climbed trees but I saw it myself!  Lastly, the deer have kindly left a lot for me this year.  Maybe their busy eating my neighbor’s garden and peaches!  I’ll have to ask the neighbors.  Or maybe the abundance of rain in the Northeast has made it a perfect year for my peach tree.

Whatever the reason, I am so happy to have an abundance of peaches.  But, I do not want them to go bad.  Different from the peaches bought at the store, these peaches only last a day or two after they ripen.  So, what can I do, with all these peaches?  Well, I can eat them…which I have been.  Give them away (my inlaws have already been by to pick some).  Or cook with them.  I have been doing a lot of the latter.

What have I made with these peaches?

Peach jam

I made a total of 4 1/2 little jars of peach jam.  This took me a total of 3 hours from peeling, cutting, cooking and processing.  They are like gold to me.  My daughter opened the smallest jar, and proclaimed them “Good”.  That’s about her enthusiasm for my cooking.  She is taking one of the jars with her to college.  That’s how I know the “Good” means, really great.

Peach turnovers

Simple to make…just pie crust and cooked down peaches with sugar then baked to  flaky delicioiusness.  They were yummy and were gone in about 1 day.

Peach Bars

Just like a oatmeal type cereal bar.  These are baked with oatmeal, brown sugar and the cooked down peaches with sugar.  Again, yum!  I just made those last night, so they are still around and should last a few days (hopefully).

Over the next few days, I will post the recipes for these delecible edibles for you to try with your peaches (grown or bought at the local farmers market).

What I would love to know, how do you use up peaches?  What recipes should I try in the future (or this week) for the rest of the peaches?  Let me know, I could use the help using up these peaches before they fall to the ground and rot (or the woodchuck magically appears or the deer are sick of the neighbors’ gardens or…).