Here are My Cooking Influences. What are yours?

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Major Raymond A. Rodgers. My Granddad.

One of my favorite memories of my Granddad, Major Raymond A. Rodgers, was the time he tried (in vain) to teach me how to make a simple roux. It was after the death of my Grandma and he was living with us. He happened to love gravy and he thought it would be a good idea to teach me to make it. In my defense, I was about 22 and the very last thing in the world I had interest in was learning to make gravy. I hated gravy, but I loved my Granddad, so I was up for the challenge.

He started out by demonstrating the proper technique, then told me stories about how he used to make it in the army and finished up with a batch of really silky white gravy. Then it was my turn. After the third attempt resulted in yet a third pile of gluey goo and a thousand giggles later, Granddad retired to his room smiling and laughing in defeat! We laughed about that experience for years following.

I often think of him now when I am making up sauces to go on whatever dish I’ve created. I know he would be so proud that I finally know how to make a decent cream gravy and an even better sauce!

I have been asked a gazillion times where I learned to cook. I didn’t grow up in the kitchen with my mother or my grandmother learning family recipes. In fact, I didn’t even start cooking at home in earnest until around 2009.

I actually credit part of my cooking talent to the old show, “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood”. I know it sounds very silly but it’s true. If you ever watched the show as a kid, you will remember that at least once per show, Mr. Rodgers showed us how something is made. Often, the show would visit factories to watch how every day items such as crayons or pencils were made. These were my favorite segments. I think they taught me how to sit back, observe and learn and they are definitely what led me to love watching the early cooking shows such as; Julia Child, The Frugal Gourmet, The Cajun Cook, and the BBC2 series, The Two Fat Ladies. (That last show was a total hoot. My sister and I used to roll around on the floor laughing at those two motorcycling ladies!) Oh and I cannot forget to mention how I used to just love and adore Emeril Lagasse! (BAM!)

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Fred Rodgers

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The Two Fat Ladies

Long about 2010, Charlie and I moved to a new house that had a wonderful kitchen. It wasn’t fancy; just had a lot of space. One night he was about to make something and out of the blue I declared that I would like to make something new I’d seen on television. I cannot even recall what it was, but I do remember the satisfaction I felt when it turned out beautifully and Charlie scarfed it all down. From that point forward, I did 98% of the dinner cooking in our home. My love of cooking shows grew and “The Food Channel” became the most watched network and explored web site in our home!

Working in a church has afforded me the unique opportunity of spending some time in an industrial kitchen once per week. Although my real job is in the finance office, Charlie and I were Grandfathered into preparing the weekly Fellowship Meal for 100-125 people. It started with someone else deciding the menus and purchasing the food. We would be left with instructions on how to prepare and serve it and eventually, we took over the entire thing. To me, it’s like planning a party each week, and I dearly love it when we pack up to leave, exhausted and sweaty, knowing that we prepared a great meal that left everyone satisfied!

My Mother often asks me how in the world we are able to do meals on such a large scale. She usually says that the mere thought of being responsible for all that food would make her too nervous to do it. This is when I stop and realize that if I sat around thinking about it like that, I wouldn’t be able to do it myself!

Tonight is the last Fellowship Meal for this season. We’ll take off a little over a month and return in July, so we’ve decided to make beef tenderloin. It’s a bit of a daunting task, IF I think about it, so I will just end here with the promise of photos tomorrow.

What are some of your cooking influences? My current favorites are, “The Pioneer Woman”, and “Barefoot Contessa”, but mostly, I just like to explore recipes and then tweak them to make them my own.

I’d love to hear how you got started cooking! Please share!

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This is me in the church kitchen a couple of years ago! Not the most attractive photo but I think you can tell I love being there!!  ❤

 

 

 

Low & Slow Scrambled Eggs & a Breakfast Burrito!

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Growing up I was most certainly NEVER an egg fan. The only way my mother could get me to choke even half of one down was to scramble them with more cheddar cheese than egg, which resulted in a greasy pile of orange stuff. (Bring on the cheesy grease pile!) I would then slather it on toast and gobble it up.

Fast forward to adulthood. Eggs are supposed to be the perfect food, especially if like me, you are on a weight loss program. Thought I have tried them every conceivable way -and I have tried with all that I am- I still haven’t been able to really like them. I can force down a deviled egg, eat a fried or poached egg on toast and once I even baked eggs inside of avocados; but I still won’t say I am a fan…UNTIL now.

Recently I was watching the Food Channel, (because as I’ve told you, I am obsessed with food and learning about food). I watched a Master Chef talk about the proper method of scrambling eggs. The way he did it resulted in the creamiest looking eggs, I’d ever seen. The very next morning I tried his method and I haven’t looked back since. I can now say with certainty, that I simply ADORE scrambled eggs!

His method involved using a regular pot instead of a frying pan. You crack your eggs into a bowl and add 1 Tbsp sour cream and whisk until frothy. Placing the pot on low heat, add 1-2 Tbsps butter (depending on how many eggs you are making). Once the butter has melted, add the eggs and wait a few minutes for the first sign of curds forming. Once this happens, you whisk continuously until the eggs set up. (My mouth is actually watering while typing this. Seriously. Who would have thought! )

Here is what the whole shebang looks like:

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Once you have your delicious eggs made, you can gobble them up OR go the extra mile and make a breakfast burrito! This is fast becoming a Sunday tradition for Charlie and me. We love these things!

Assemble the ingredients:

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We like flour tortillas (burrito sized) but you can certainly use corn or whole wheat or even the gluten free variety. I usually microwave each one about 15 seconds before trying to roll them. It makes them more pliable. Then just pile up what you like. I put the eggs on the bottom of mine, but you don’t have to. Here we have eggs, sauteed peppers, onions and corn with raw chopped onion, fresh cilantro, avocado and a dash of pico de gallo. (I think the raw onion and pico add a great texture. (I love a little bit of bite to things.) Then you just roll them up.

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Once rolled, I put ours into a medium-high cast iron skillet coated with coconut oil spray seam-side down. Not only does this seal them up, the little bit of crust adds great flavor and it helps the burrito to stand up to being cut in half.

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All that remains is to remember that you eat with your eyes first, so make a pretty plate!

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¡Comiendo feliz! Delicioso!

(Happy Eating! Delicious!)


Breakfast Burritos Recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Flour tortillas (4) 8″ or large
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1.5 Tbsp sour cream (or Mexican crema)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 c sauteed vegetables (whatever you like – we used onion, green pepper, red pepper & jalapeno here-sometimes we include spinach or kale)
  • 1/2 c. chopped raw onion
  • 1/2 c. fresh pico de gallo
  • 1/2 c. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4 Tbsp Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

  • Read above!
  • Scramble eggs
  • Saute vegetables (whatever you like)
  • Warm tortillas in the microwave 20-30 seconds)
  • Spoon 1/4 eggs onto the bottom third of tortilla (see above)
  • Spoon 1/4 sauteed vegetables over the eggs
  • Add cilantro, avocado, onion and pico (plus Sriracha if you are so inclined)
  • Fold the two sides in and roll the burrito
  • Spray a cast iron skillet or frying pan with coconut or vegetable oil
  • Heat to medium high
  • Sear burritos on all sides (1-2 minutes)
  • Assemble a pretty plate! (That’s an order!)

These can be wrapped in plastic, then wrapped in foil and placed in a zip lock freezer bag for later. To re-heat, just unwrap one, place on a microwave safe plate, cover with a paper towel and microwave 30 seconds, then turn over, 30 seconds more, etc…until heated through.

Viva!

 

Food creations. Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers. Delicious!

The other day Charlie was out shopping and came home with two enormous pork chops he’d found on sale. Then he remembered that we were making pork tenderloin that night for church supper. I suggested we freeze the chops for later use, but he said he might grill them over the weekend so we left them alone.

That was one week ago.

Of course time got away from us and last night when I pulled them out for dinner, they smelled disgusting -so into the trash they went. Lesson learned. (Next time, put the meat in the freezer.)

This is the kind of thing that usually lends itself well to creativity, because at this point, it’s too late to defrost something else. I knew we had some ground chicken in the fridge. Don’t ask me why I bought it or why I didn’t freeze it. It was just one of those purchases that was absent-minded. Charlie questioned me about three times as to to why in the world I would want ground-chicken. I dunno. It was cheap and it’s lower in fat than ground turkey.

So what to do with this mysterious ground chicken? (Okay it’s not mysterious, but it sounded good.) One of my favorite apps lately is my Yummly app. I opened it, typed, “ground chicken” into it and poof, recipes started appearing. We happened to have tons of cilantro and loads of limes around so I settled on cilantro lime chicken burgers. Of course, I tweaked the recipe to suit my own tastes.

I am here to tell you this is a keeper. Those burgers were not only delicious and tangy, but they stayed moist. You wouldn’t imagine something as mundane as ground chicken would be tasty but it was and so, we will be repeating this again in the future.

One other thing: Ground chicken runs about $3.99 per pound. Cilantro is always in season and can be found for $.99 a bunch.  Limes are equally as inexpensive. This is all to say if you are on a budget and also happen to be counting calories and fat grams, this meal was awesome. If you are solo, you can eat one and freeze the other three for easy microwave lunches!

Yes, I know this is unlike any of my usual posts! I’m switching gears a bit for a change and everyone should know by now that I am obsessed with food!

 

cilantro lime burger

Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers

Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup cilantro (I used way more because we love it.)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic (I used granulated garlic-about 2 tsp)
Zest of two limes
Juice of two limes
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Directions:

Mix it all together and form 4 patties.
Heat a cast iron skillet (I use a cast iron grill pan) to medium high.
I use olive oil and butter to coat. (@2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter)
4 to 5 minutes each side.