Fresh, fast and frugal!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Stepping in Tonight ~ Brainy Guy 'Food'

Yep, tonight the Brainy Gourmet takes a break. Which means, its me, the Brainy Guy from 'Brainy Guy' Food blog. And yep, you're right again if you think I am married to the Brainy Gourmet. I wish I could take my sweetie out to dinner but she cooks better than most restaurants. So, once in awhile, I cook for her. Tonight's dish, Italian sausage sandwich with left over spaghetti bolognese. Since, I am a 'sammy' kind of guy... I can of course make a pretty good sandwich.

I prefer to buy Italian sausage in bulk which means not in the casing. It cooks faster and still remains juicy. Get some olive oil going in a skillet, pat out your sausage in an oblong shape and lay in the patties when the oil starts to sizzle. Sprinkle on some dried herb seasoning and let em cook. Once browned on both sides, cover and simmer for 10 min. on low heat. Prepare bread or sandwich rolls by toasting in the oven or toaster oven. Have some mozzarella cheese ready to melt on the patties once they are cooked through. As the rolls come out of the toaster, press them down into the juices in the skillet where the patties still simmer. Then, turn off the heat, make a sandwich and get happy. Oh, and lastly, microwave the left over spaghetti.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

and don't forget the giardiniera relish

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Iowa Pork Chops

A gourmet is a 20 minute meal. I always knew that good cooking did not require slaving away in the kitchen. In fact, most great meals can be made in 20 min. I picked up two boneless, lovely pink and quite plump Iowa pork chops for this evening's dinner. The price for the two was just $3.93. That means about $1.96 per chop. As for sides: potato, homemade applesauce with a squeeze of fresh lemon and a couple of stuffed olives to go with the Pinot Grigio.

Saute your chops in 3 tbs of coconut oil (organic) and the same of olive oil (first pressing) along with some red pepper flakes, garlic powder (organic), sea salt and dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano (fresh dried). Brown on both sides on med. heat for 10 min. Turn down the heat to low and cover for the next 10 min. Depending on your range top, either electric or gas you may need to go 12 min. Lp gas takes longer as well. If you are not sure about your chops being fully cooked use a meat thermometer... go with 'pork' - pink and tender. You can also remove a chop, cut into it and check. If blood runs, return it to the skillet but for no more than 2-3 min. Check again, you want the meat to be white with a hint of pink juices.

Prepare your sides and set the table.

~Tutti a Tavola! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Making it simple ~ Spaghetti Bolognese

Who doesn't like Spaghetti Bolognese, right? As a kid, I loved to watch the Prince Spaghetti commercials staged in Italy or maybe in an Italian neighborhood here in the States. The mama would yell out the upstairs kitchen window, "Anthony, its Prince Spaghetti Day"... and a dark haired little boy would appear running through the streets to get home for dinner.

Believe me, it takes no time at all to make a really great Bolognese. Just saute chopped onion in olive oil until brown and then add ground pork or veal about 1 pound, breaking it up as you stir. Sprinkle generously some dried herb seasonings: rosemary, mint and oregano and garlic powder, then let your sauce simmer for 6-8 min on med heat. In the meantime, boil water for your spaghetti pasta.

Back to the sauce, you want to stir into your meat and onion 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (Red Gold). Let this simmer on low heat for 20 min.

Once, the pasta is tender, drain and turn onto a large low lipped serving dish. Next, pour on the Bolognese and top with grated Parmesan.

~ Tutti a Tavola! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Chicken Breast in Creamy Peanut Sauce

Seriously, this is so simple, it takes about 20 minutes... if that. What I like about chicken; especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts, is that it cooks quickly and stays juicy. For this dish, melt in 3 tbs. coconut oil and the same of olive oil in a covered skillet. Toss in some chopped /diced green pepper and saute on med heat. Move aside when the edges have browned and add your chicken breasts. Sprinkle in red pepper flakes, garlic powder, sea salt and dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Brown your chicken breasts on all sides. Drizzle in 2 tbs of soy sauce. Let the chicken sizzle in the soy sauce, then add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 2 tbs of natural peanut butter and stir.  Cover and simmer for 10 min.

You can prepare as a side, potatoes, rice or a fresh green salad. ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Food ~ To be or not to be Raw

Some many people are driven by health scares into eating raw 'organic'. There is nothing wrong with any food that has been grown or raised organic. There is nothing wrong with eating fresh fruits and vegetables eaten in their 'raw' state - uncooked. And, there is nothing wrong with eating them cooked either. However, for some like myself (an IBS sufferer), I/we have to be very careful eating raw foods as many fruits and veggies are soluble and insoluble fibers which for me are like wads of yarn trying to get my intestine.

If you are like me, then you know what I am talking about. You see, fiber comes in two main varieties — soluble and insoluble. During digestion, soluble fiber dissolves in water and turns into a kind of gooey, gummy consistency — think what happens to oatmeal after it sits in a pot of water for a time. Insoluble fiber is tougher. It doesn’t dissolve and pretty much keeps its form - ball of yarn.

Although insoluble fiber is generally healthy, it can be hard on the intestines of people with IBS. Insoluble fiber food moves quickly through the colon, something that many diarrhea-predominant IBS sufferers want to avoid. People with constipation-predominant IBS may want to experiment with how much insoluble fiber they can eat without experiencing too much gas and bloating.

That is why the best foods for IBS health are those that are gentle on the digestive system and encourage “smooth passage” through the intestines. Thus, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains — it pains me to say — should be limited. It’s hard to imagine I just said that! Truth be told, these healthful foods are a bit hard for the body to break down. Like me, you should probably cook vegetables and even some fruits i.e. I cannot eat raw apples but I am good with applesauce and I am good with cooked meat and chicken 'organic'...

There is plenty of nutrition in cooked foods; especially, when cooked 'brainy' properly.

"All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble." ~Romans 14:20


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Easy Fettuccine Alfredo with Carmelized Root Veggies and Danish Bacon

Some of you might be thinking, how could this be simple; fettuccine alfredo with caramelized root vegetables and Danish bacon. And, why Danish bacon? The Danish bacon I buy at the Polish Deli is just outstanding. It has more meat than most hams. It is lightly smoked and always juicy. Root vegetables this time of year are amazing: parsnips and carrots... the best. If you are thinking this does not sound like your everyday simple fettuccine alfredo, you are both right and wrong. Right that it is not your everyday fettuccine and wrong if you think it too complicated.

Saute chopped onion in 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil, add your diced danish bacon (which comes in a thick cut) and then dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Brown this mixture and then set aside when onion is transparent and bacon is cooked through. To this same skillet, add more olive oil and 2 tbs of coconut oil. Toss in peeled julienne parsnips and carrots, saute on med heat. Once tender and nicely caramelized, return the onion and bacon laying on top of the root veggies. Then, turn the heat to low or warm and cover.

Bring salted water to a boil and add your fettuccine, I like to use the tomato infused pasta.  Meanwhile, take out another skillet and melt in 3 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of olive oil on low heat. Then add 1 tbs of flour to make a rue (base for white sauce). As soon as it thickens, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream, a dash of salt and pepper and the same of garlic powder along with fresh dried parsley. Also, add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, stir until creamy. If the pasta is done, drain and pour out the creamy alfredo sauce. You can top with the bacon and root veggies or use them as a side dish.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

* what do parsnips taste like... the taste is deliciously nutty!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Chicken and Rice

The brainy gourmet remembers mom's creamy chicken and rice, a simple, frugal meal.

It begins with left over chicken stock and any meat from that stock. You can also add a few new pieces of chicken - thighs that are boneless and skinless are a delicious addition. Boil the amount of rice you need in the left over stock (following the 1:2 ratio of measure). When the rice has cooked, add your chicken; however, if you are not using left over chicken (already cooked) then it must be cooked separately by sauteing in a bit of olive oil and chopped onion. When cooked through, you can dice your cooked chicken or leave whole the thighs if that cut was chosen for additional meat value. To this 'chicken and rice', add 1/2 cup of heavy cream along with a pinch of salt and pepper plus dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano; cover and let simmer for 15 min. on low heat.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Medallions in Creamy Sauce with Ribbon Zucchini and Squash

Making it simple is just that. Take a basic meat, add some herbs and cream, then prepare a vegetable side and voila which means to express approval or satisfaction. For this meal, I chose to make what was once called the other 'white' meat... pork. I like pork and my family does too. The loin cut is best to use when making medallions. You simply slice thick chunks of the loin into medallion like shapes and saute in olive oil, coconut oil and half a chopped onion with a few dried herbs thrown in. Once the medallions have browned to a rustic richness on all sides, you can pour in about 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Let this come to a bubbly boil, then turn off the heat, cover and set aside. In another skillet, quickly stir fry thinly sliced or ribboned zucchini with some chopped onion and green pepper. Add a bit of teriyaki sauce, cover and cook for 3 min on med heat. If you like you can add another side, my choice tonight is acorn squash which can be microwaved after carefully halving, de-seeding.

 ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Soup, Brie, Bread, Olives and Wine

If you don't have any idea what to cook for dinner, then just don't cook. Toasted French or Italian bread spread with fresh cream butter and topped with a slice or two of brie, maybe toss on a nice green spinach leaf, set out a bowl of olives on the side and a glass of wine've got dinner.

Bon Appetite

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Stove Top Pork Roast with Carrots

Once my oven quit and I had to think on my feet. I thought, why not do a stove top roast. All you need to have is a good cast iron covered stock pot. I had bought a small pork roast (3/4 - 1 lb) or you can even use a pork butt of the same size. In my covered stock pot, I seared it on all sides in olive oil and chopped onion. Then, I added fresh dried herbs, some garlic powder and salt along with 2 tbs of water to simmer covered for 2 hours on low heat.  I also like to throw in some fresh baby carrots about mid way.

The one herb that really brings out the flavor in this simple dish is rosemary. So, add an additional sprig if you have one.  As a side, you can serve baked or microwaved whole acorn squash or individual potatoes. This is so simple and takes the least amount of effort that I was able to go outside and rake up 10 piles of hay.

When I came back in, the kitchen was filled with the most wonderful aroma! Everyone who entered asked "what's for dinner?"

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Making it Simple ~ Not Your Italian Meat Balls with Pasta

We forget that meat balls with pasta does not have to be served with a tomato based sauce - this is not your spaghetti and meat balls. This dish is a cultural mix of Hawaiian, Asian and Caribbean.  All you need is 1/2 pound of ground beef and 1/3 pound of ground pork. Mix together and add 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, a pinch of salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes plus fresh dried herbs: rosemary, oregano and a sprinkle of ginger along with mint using as much of this as you like. On med. heat, saute your meat balls in chopped onion and green pepper that you started earlier on in 4 tbs of olive oil and 2 tbs of coconut oil.  Once browned on all sides, add 4 tbs of agave nectar, 2 or 3 tbs of beef stock and simmer for 8 min on low heat.

Cook your pasta, linguine is best. Once tender, drain and top with the meatballs in their delicious spicy sweet sauce. Serve with soy sauce, fresh squeezed lime and parsley.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Garlic

A simple brainy meal that ticks all the boxes: protein, carbs, veggies and fresh herbs. This dish can be made with meat or without. You can use whole wheat pasta, gluten free pasta or whatever pasta you prefer. What you really need to have on hand or purchase is fresh tomatoes and garlic along with some fresh parsley. Boil water for the pasta, add a pinch of salt to the pot and toss in the pasta when a boil begins to roll.

Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic and even green pepper if you have or like in 3 tbs of olive oil and 1 tbs of coconut oil. Add fresh diced tomatoes- about 1/2 pound and fresh dried herbs. If you want to use a ground meat, then prepare in a separate skillet; cook, drain and add to the fresh tomato sauce on the end.

This comes together so quickly you better make sure everyone is home and around the table.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Parsely ~ Who Knew

Brainy for Parsley


  • Parsley is one of less calorific herb. 100 g of fresh leaves carry just 36 calories. Additionally, its leaves carry zero cholesterol and fat, but rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Altogether, the herb helps in controllling blood-cholesterol, and may offer protection from free radical mediated injury and cancers.
  • Parsley contains health benefiting essential volatile oils that include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene.
  • The essential oil, Eugenol, present in this herb has been in therapeutic application in dentistry as a local anesthetic and anti-septic agent for teeth and gum diseases. Eugenol has also been found to reduce blood sugar levels among diabetics; however, further detailed studies required to establish its role.
  • Parsley is rich in poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, including apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin; and has been rated as one of the plant sources with quality antioxidant activities. Total ORAC value, which measures the anti-oxidant strength of 100 g of fresh, raw parsley, is 1301 µmol TE (Trolex equivalents).
  • The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. 100 g fresh herb provides 554 mg or 12% of daily-required levels of potassium. Potassium is the chief component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure by countering pressing effects of sodium. Iron is essential for the production of heme, which is an important oxygen-carrying component inside the red blood cells. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • Additionally, the herb is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin-A, beta-carotene, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, zea-xanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthin. The herb is an excellent source of vitamin-K and folates. Zea-xanthin helps prevent age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) in the retina (eye) in the aged population through its anti-oxidant and ultra-violet light filtering functions.
  • Fresh herb leaves are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins play a vital role in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism by acting as co-enzymes inside the human body.
  • It is, perhaps, the richest herbal source for vitamin K; provide 1640 µg or 1366% of recommended daily intake. Vitamin K has been found to have the potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It has also established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients through limiting neuronal damage in their brain.
Wonderful! Humble parsley has just 36 calories/100 g, but their phyto-nutrients profile is no less than any high-calorie food sources.
This unique herb provides:
38% of folates,
220% of vitamin C,
281% of vitamin A,
1366% of vitamin K,
14% of calcium,
77.5% of iron and
5561 mcg of zeaxanthin.
5054 mcg of carotene-beta

* Source of Information ~

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Making it Simple ~ Pork in Creamy Mustard Sauce

Food combinations are important for every eater. Rather than get hung up on putting certain things together, better to blend a variety of good quality food with reasonable portions. I like basic cooking and likely that won't change in the brainy kitchen. So, what's for dinner? A basic dinner is: simple cut of meat with a side of either rice, groats, pasta or a potato and maybe even another green or yellow vegetable side, slowly steamed, sauteed or or even fermented.

Wash and slice green pepper and zucchini that will be sauteed in a bit of olive oil, coconut oil and some simple seasonings: sea salt, red pepper flakes, garlic powered (organic) and dried herbs. Grab your covered skillet and melt in your oils. Add your veggies and let them sizzle on med heat. When they have browned on the edges and become a little transparent remove from the skillet and set aside.

Slice your pork into small medallions. Add a bit more of your oils to the same skillet that you cooked the veggies in and lay in your pork. Sizzle on med heat until meat appears white and browned on the edges. Add 2 tbs of creamy organic Dijon mustard and 1/3 cup of heavy cream. Cover and simmer for 8 min on a low flame or heat. Prepare another side if you like, potato baked or boiled.

Garnish with fresh green parsley which is excellent for digestion!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Being Brainy and Frugal ~ Food Combinations!

This blog has always been about being brainy in the frugal sense first. Whether we like it or not, most Americans eat what they can afford. Good quality meat, vegetables and fruits get more expensive everyday. Its hard to cut back on one to enjoy another without loosing the benefits of the one you cut out brings.

Most meals on this blog are frugal first and foremost. Thus, all basic meals prepared for this blog have a simple protein 'meat' serving with a side; usually, rice or buckwheat, pasta or a potato. Today, there is much discussion about what to combine and what not to. We want the most for our money and for our tummy. We also want to be happy and healthy. So while serving 'meat and potato' is sometimes poo pooed in food combining (concentrated protein and concentrated starch) it is one way to have good satisfying food. What to do and yet remain frugal.

Having learned a lot about cooking while in eastern Europe, another vegetable side can be added and in eastern Europe that is usually a fermented type. By adding a fermented vegetable such as sauerkraut or pickles one aides in the digestion of the concentrated proteins and concentrated starches - meat and potato combination. You can also serve fresh sliced tomatoes and fresh green parsley which also aid in digestion.

For those like myself who have sensitivity to fresh fruits and vegetables as such foods cause bloating, gas and irritable bowel syndrome to flare up, the recommendation is limit those foods and do food combining. Though the most given advice for fruit consumption is on an empty stomach, there is no way I could do that without suffering for it. I prefer to have fruits just after a meal in small amounts either just after breakfast or just after dinner but never before bed... too much sugar let alone the bloating and gas.

The combination of food is important and the amounts! Be brainy and frugal. In this way, you can make food combining choices that let you be a brainy 'frugal' gourmet, getting the best out of the food you can afford and the best results regarding your well being.