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English: An American actually discovered durin...

Microwave Oven

And you thought your microwave was just for reheating take-out food or rewarming your cup of coffee.  Well check out this list of 10 things you never thought your microwave could do!

 

  1. Cutting Onions Just Got Easier – Trim the ends off your onions and put them in the microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH.  Your eyes won’t sting when you peel them.
  2. Brown Sugar Rock Solid – Place a dampened paper towel in the box and close the lid.  Put in the microwave on HIGH for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Cleaning the Microwave – uh oh you put the spaghetti in the micro for too long and too high.  Fill a small bowl with water and add some white vinegar.  Place bowl in the microwave and heat it on HIGH for a couple of minutes until the mess softens and will wipe clean easily.
  4. Fix Your Old Honey –  a jar of crystalized honey can be restored in your microwave.  Remove the lid and heat on 50% power for 2 minutes.
  5. Get A Hot Compress Quick – Wet a wash cloth or hand towel and heat on HIGH for one minute.
  6. Juicier Lemons + Limes – Put the whole lemon or lime in the microwave and heat for 10-20 seconds on HIGH.  It will be easier to squeeze and yield more juice.
  7. Make Sure Your Containers Are Safe To Use – we’ve all heard about the danger in re-using take out food containers to reheat food.  You can check it out by placing a mug, that you know is microwave safe, with cold water in it.  Put the mug in the container and heat on HIGH for one minute. If the water is hot and the container is cold, it’s safe to re-use.
  8. Don’t Blanch, Just Microwave – You can peel tomatoes and peaches easily by placing in your microwave and heating on HIGH for 30 seconds and then let them sit for 2 minutes.  They should peel easily.
  9. Long Live The Potato Chip – If your potato chips have gotten soggy, place them on a paper towel and heat them briefly in the microwave till they crisp.
  10. Forget To Soak The Beans Overnight? – Place the beans in a bowl and cover completely with water.  Add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and heat on high for 10 minutes and then let them rest for 30-40 minutes.

Thanks to Gail who sent me these clever time-saving ideas.

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I had so many titles in my head tonight, I didn’t know which one to go with…Cheap Eats Tonight, Leftovers Italian Style, Work With What You Have,  Let’s Look In The Pantry, to name a few.  

Here’s the back story;  Sunday night we had Sausage and Pepper Subs for dinner, see previous post, https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/a-simple-street-fair-supper-from-the-kitchen/.   The sausage was an Italian Hot Turkey sausage and I used red, yellow and orange peppers and Vidalia onions and we bought a small loaf of Semolina Italian bread.  I cooked the whole package of sausages and so there were a few leftover. At the time I didn’t have a plan as to how to use them.

I wasn’t sure that my husband would be home for dinner tonight, so I thought about how to utilize the sausages for a quick and easy meal to make for myself.  Best laid plans…He stayed home and so I ventured into the kitchen to create something.  Looking in the pantry and freezer, a plan came together!

I sautéed a few cloves of garlic in some olive oil and added a couple of slices of Vidalia onion.  While that was cooking, I put a saucepan of water on to boil.  Once it started to boil I added a cup of Farro, turned the gas down and covered the pot.  

I almost always have a large bag of broccoli florets in the freezer and I tossed in a couple of handfuls and let them cook a while.   Then I sliced the sausage links and put them in the skillet.  Looking through the pantry I found a can of Roman Beans and decided to throw them into the mix.  I usually rinse and drain all canned beans but for some reason I thought to read a possible recipe using these beans because I was unfamiliar with them – Have no idea why they were in the pantry cabinet!  Well, the side of the can had a recipe for Rice and Beans and it stated that the beans should be added with their liquid so that’s what I did.  Lastly, I put a few shakes of Herbes de Provence in the pan, put a cover on it and kept stirring the Farro.

GOYA Roman Beans

GOYA Roman Beans

When the Farro was done, I drained it and put it in one bowl and my created mix in another.  Needless to say it was really tasty and I was pleased that I had created the dish.  By the way, I say needless because otherwise I would never post the recipe, LOL.

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This morning I made this breakfast for my husband and myself.  It was easy to put together and yummy too!  I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman‘s blog and she got it from the Fireside Restaurant in the Omni Berkshire in NYC!  Ree Drummond,  The Pioneer Woman lives in Oklahoma and when I saw this recipe, I knew it would be great and definitely good for my perpetual  diet.   I printed it out and first tried it out on my daughter when she returned from the hospital with her third child – good for a nursing mom who wants to lose the baby fat.

Carb Buster Breakfast

Carb Buster Breakfast

Ingredients

1 TBS butter or olive oil

1/2 cup Diced Zucchini

1/2 cup Diced Yellow Squash

1/2 whole Medium Onion, Cut into chunks

Salt and Pepper

1 whole Tomato, sliced thick

2 whole eggs

1 tsp vinegar

1 slice Cheese (Monterey, Jack, Cheddar, Swiss etc)

Optional: a couple of links of chicken or pork sausage

Preparation

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add the onions and cook 2-3 minutes or until starting to soften.  Add the zucchini and squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to cook for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill the tomato slices on a grill pan or simply sear them in a hot skillet.  Remove and set aside.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a gentle boil.  Add the vinegar.  Use a wooden spoon to carefully stir the water into a circular “whirlpool”.  Crack one egg into the water and allow it to swirl around in the water until the egg begins to set.  Let it stay in the water for 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon.  Repeat with second egg.

Spoon the vegetables on a plate or in a bowl, set the eggs on top.  Lay the tomato slices on the side.  Place the cheese slice on the side so that it starts to soften from the heat.

Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper and serve.

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Reczniki papierowe

Paper Towels

 

Unfortunately this weekend just slipped away amidst some family crisis, laundry, spring cleaning and doing my taxes.  So now it’s Sunday evening, I’m expecting a guest for dinner and so f0r the last hour and a half I have been scurrying around the kitchen and dining room like a crazy person.  I actually employed Peter to help me and that’s something I rarely do but boy oh boy I was off schedule – the damn taxes AND THEY’RE NOT EVEN DONE YET!

 

Friday I literally spent the entire day on the phone and was emotionally drained and exhausted  by 5pm.  We just ordered-in some Chinese food and I finished paying the first of the month bills.  Then I got some kind of second wind and stayed up until 2am watching all the commercial tv shows that I had DVR‘d for my late night viewing when he who shall not be named relinquishes the remote and retires to the bedroom to continue watching any movie that’s on  TCM.

Saturday morning I was dragging and spent a lot of time on the computer playing Words With Friends and Scrabble and looking for some stuff I want to find on Ebay.  It was lovely not getting dressed and just sitting around.  However, I had promised myself that either Saturday or Sunday would be devoted to getting the income tax in order to ship off to the accountant and also to do some cleaning.  Really the level of dust in the apartment was appalling.  Anyone who knows us, knows that to dust this apartment is a MAJOR event.  Actually I was more washing down and wiping down than dusting – that’s how bad things had gotten.  Me and my Windex and paper towels;  Cleaning the vintage radios, wiping off the hood ornaments, washing the grime off vases, lamps and every tchotcha on the living room shelves. And I polished all the wood furniture with lemon oil because everything looks dried out to me after this everlasting hot-air-heated winter!  All of this industriousness was certainly causing a riff in the household;  Well one of us seems to have endless tasks and the other person is kind of whining that there’s no time when we can be together BECAUSE I’m always working!!! REALLY now!  I managed to do a couple of shelves in bedroom, none in the den and the day was pretty much gone.  It had been a lovely sunny day and I understood why my spouse wanted to leave the house and get outside but when he said let’s walk up to Madison Avenue and go into some galleries, I couldn’t imagine doing that at all.  First of all I didn’t want to be dress up much to be on Madison so to appease my poor neglected spouse  I suggested we head off to the Met to see some exhibits we wanted to catch before they closed.  That put a smile on his face.  It was good to get out although it was ridiculously windy and my knees and ankles hurt – not the best foot forward to go to a museum.

But off we did go and although every step hurt in some place or another, we managed to see the Metropolitan Vanities,  the French Marville photography exhibition of the Paris that used to be.  I was unaware that the Paris of the 1920’s was destroyed and the Paris that we know today with its wide boulevards and beautiful buildings was designed by Hauseman and built.  We should have looked at the map as to where the exhibitions we wanted to see, were because the way we did it, we managed to crisscross the museum twice. If you’ve never been to the Met, let me tell you that’s a lot of walking.  I wanted to see the Western Bronzes in the new American Wing so spent some time looking at the great sculptures of Remington and Solomon Borglum.

That was as much walking as I wanted to do especially since those 2 Extra Strength Tylenols had not done their job!  We stopped at Fairway on the way home and picked up a roast chicken and a baguette for supper and some ingredients for Sunday’s dinner.  Knowing I had work to do, I had planned ahead and defrosted a quart of pea soup I had made a couple of weeks ago.  Pea soup, chicken, bread and salad was the perfect Saturday night supper.

Although I went to bed early and fell asleep during Angels in the Outfield, when I woke up this morning, I still didn’t feel really refreshed and dreaded putting the income taxes together. Oy what a horrible task.  Seriously I spent most of the afternoon calculating  dinners, taxis, memberships and charitable deductions.  In fact I spent so much time making notes and adjustments that all of sudden it 4:45pm and I had to shower and change AND COOK for my dinner guest who was due to arrive at 6:30pm.

Well, when I started this blog it was during the time I was awaiting the arrival of my dinner guest.  Peter assured me she would be at least 15 minutes late; By the time it was 7:25pm I wondered if she thought I had said 7:30pm.  THEN the light bulb went off and I said to Peter, “I wonder where she is, she hasn’t called, God, I hope she didn’t email me”  I looked at my phone and there was an email from 11:15am from her asking me what my address was.  Of course I didn’t see that one or hear it come in as I was knee deep in receipts.  There was another one at 6:15pm saying she was walking out the door and by the way, what is my address?  OH BOY! I was cooking like  a madwoman at 6:15pm!  GENERATION GAP!  We’re wondering why we haven’t heard from her and she’s sitting home because she can’t find any emails from me, can’t find my business card and of course since she’s under 40, the idea of calling information and assuming we might be one of the few relics that still have a land line, never entered her mind!  So we called her and Peter scolded her because he just doesn’t get that they communicate almost solely through electronic messaging and hardly ever use their phones to actually talk!

But since she showed up bearing flowers and is as much fun to be with as ever, all was well within minutes.  It turned out to a witty conversational evening and the food wasn’t too bad either!  Just for the record, I made Chicken Paprikash, Steamed Asparagus and my new favorite salad of Arugula, Farro, Tomatoes and Olives.  The recipe for this great dinner party salad is in my blog post; https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/farro-and-arugula-salad-tasty-tidbits-tuesday/.

We had a lovely evening playing with the old Edison phonograph and showing off the portable record player we’ve taken to Central Park picnics and talking about old movies and new!  AW is a kindred spirit, we hope to see her again soon…maybe we’ll catch her stand-up comedy act!

 

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April 2, 2014 is

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

It’s National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Did you know that the average American consumes 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the age of 18? The combination of sweet jelly and salty peanut butter has been a staple in school lunchboxes for over fifty years.

According to one story, American soldiers invented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich during World War II. They decided to combine their bread, jelly, and peanut butter rations into a fabulous new treat. When the soldiers returned home after the war, peanut butter and jelly sales soared.

To celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, make this iconic American sandwich for lunch!

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month & National Grilled Cheese Month.

 

My Favorite Sandwich

My Favorite Sandwich

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This Tasty Tidbits Tuesday is really the simplest of meals and no recipe needed.  I was looking for a really quick and economical supper for this night.  In the Spring and Fall, many of the avenues in New York City are closed to traffic and hundreds of booths line the streets selling everything from socks to sheets, hats to hot dogs, fresh squeezed lemonade to ladies’ dresses, shawls, scarves and sweaters, jewelry to junk and best of all Sausage and Pepper Subs. I don’t call them subs as in submarine sandwiches because I come from Connecticut and we know these sandwiches are grinders!  Well whatever you call them, they’re delicious and we always feel decadent eating them and why not since they are loaded with fat.  

Tonight I made a healthier version and clearly it was an economical meal.  We had Sausage with Peppers and Onions on a roll and steamed asparagus.  I used hot poultry sausage.  I don’t normally calculate the cost of the meals I make or the recipes I post, however, this meal was really, well, cheap!

English: Red bell peppers. Suomi: Punaisia pap...

 Red bell peppers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sausage (6) cost  – $5.36  

Mixed sweet bell peppers (6) – $5.99  I only used 5 

2 fresh-baked rolls – $1.40

1 lg Spanish onion – $0.74

Asparagus – $4.79 – purchased at COSTCO (2 lb) This is the second side dish, and still have a third.

Total cost: $17.54

There is pepper and onion mix and 1 1/2 sausages left over for a lunch. 

The key to making this meal delicious is sautéing the peppers and onion really slowly.  The onion caramelizes and sweetens the mixture.  I only use red, yellow and orange peppers – that’s why there is one left over; It’s green! 

English: onion

 Onion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Braising Pan by Schulte-Ufer

Braising Pan by
Schulte-Ufer

As I said in an earlier post, there’s a whole lot of cooking is going on this weekend.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s been raining for most of the time.

I had had some chicken thighs in the freezer for a while and thought I should  use them so I looked through my recipes to see what I could make.  Two caught my eye and ultimately I opted for the quick and simpler version. You will note that in this recipe and many others, that I use a braising pan.  I never owned one until a couple of years ago and now I can’t imagine cooking without one.  I use it all the time and if you want to cook or like to cook, I suggest you invest in one.  Actually the one I have in my cottage is more the perfect size  (11 1/2 “) than the larger one in NYC.  I always forget to mention that I use the braising pan as the serving dish/bowl for my meal.  That could be because although the cottage is filled with kitchenware and dish ware, I don’t have that medium size shallow bowl in which to serve my dish.  Maybe, BUT it sure makes cleaning up easier and keeps the food hot right from the stove to the table.

Balsamic Orange Chicken

Balsamic Orange Chicken – courtesy Martha Stewart

Ingredients

4 bone- in, skin-on chicken thighs

1 TBS olive oil

2 TBS Balsamic vinegar

1 orange cut into 8 wedges

1 TS unsalted butter

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 450 °

Heat oil on med-high in oven proof skillet ( I used a braising pan) and brown chicken skin side down till golden crispy, about 7 minutes.  Remove from pan to plate and pour off fat from skillet.  Return chicken to pan skin side up and put in oven for 10 minutes (I checked the temperature of the meat with my thermometer). Return chicken to plate.

Heat skillet over medium  and add vinegar and orange wedges to pan.  Scrape up any bits stuck to bottom of pan.  Cook till oranges get soft, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

To serve, return chicken to pan and toss pieces around in the sauce.  Squeeze the oranges over the chicken and serve with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food – November 2010

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