Fresh, fast and frugal!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Farm Raised Bacon and Eggs ~ Omlette Anyone?

My daughter and son-in-law live in the country and have the wonderful pleasure of raising their own chickens, beef and pork. And, of course, parents are treated to their generosity. Eggs are one of the best basic food items to keep in the pantry (as you know farm fresh eggs don't need refrigeration). That's because they are full of protein, not as expensive as meat, easy to cook making eggs a fast and frugal food item.

When I make omelettes, I like to keep the omelette simple and have extra ingredients on the side. This keeps any veggie who want to add crisp and the omelette pure... also, its a good idea to do this in case any family member doesn't like green pepper, mushroom, asparagus or whatever else you like to have in your omelette.

For today's meal, begin by sauteing fresh green asparagus with fresh green pepper, onion and mushrooms in olive oil and a dollop of fresh creamy butter.

Once, brown and tender, remove from the skillet and set aside. Add a bit more olive oil to the skillet and lay in your bacon. Fresh cured pork is so delicious, there is no store bought comparison. As the bacon browns and crisps up, set on top of the asparagus, mushrooms and green peppers. Drain off any excess bacon grease (in Poland they use this to make lard spread) and wipe out the skillet with a clean napkin. Drop in another dollop of butter and then pour into the hot skillet a mixture of whisked eggs (use as many eggs as you will need per person omelette) with 1/4 of heavy cream or more depending on number of eggs used (cover the bottom of the skillet only).  Cover and let it bubble up, remove cover and check edges. If they lift of up easy shuffle your omelette in the skillet and cover again until you see most of the egg mixture solidifying in the middle, add a few slices of cheese and or grated Parmesan and cover again for a few seconds. Finally, remove the lid and turn over the omelette in half, slide onto a serving plate.  Put out the bacon and veggies as a side of extra ingredients.

Sooner or Later... You Are Gonna Get Leftovers

I heard my Nonna was good at leftovers. She knew that leftovers can be revived by adding a small simple meat and sauce to revive what's leftover. Therefore, in her memory, I follow her lead.

To begin... take from the fridge whatever leftovers you want to use up. Then decide what meat or fish you want to cook. The simple meat I like to use is ground lamb made into patties to be sauteed on med heat in olive oil and dried herbs with a bit of garlic powder and red pepper flakes.

Ground lamb cooks fairly fast. Once the meat is no longer pink inside, check by pushing down on the patties to see the juices run clear, you should reduce the heat, cover and decide how to re-heat your leftovers. While you either microwave or bake/boil your leftovers, you can prepare a sauce/gravy using any of the juices from the lamb patties. Sauce always compliments and zings up leftovers.

As for my leftovers, I had leftover pasta and asparagus.... with gravy on the side.

 ~ Tutti a Tavola!

skinny version...

hungry version ;-)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Nonna's Kitchen~ Risotto and Chicken in Creamy Tomato Rosemary Sauce

You will need for this dish: boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts... plan for as many servings as you will need - count number of guests. Check your pantry/fridge for: heavy cream, onion, green pepper, canned diced tomatoes and rice. If you don't like onion or the green pepper, leave them out. The main ingredients are the tomatoes, onion and heavy cream.

This Risotto recipe is just another Nonna version, which means fast and frugal. To begin, boil your rice in left over homemade tomato soup if you have (one cup rice to two cups soup). If not, use 1/2 carton of chicken stock to one cup of rice and half of a small can of tomato paste. Boil the rice until tender (adding more stock only if not yet tender) and all 'soup' has been absorbed. Add 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese and let sit until your chicken is prepared.

To prepare the chicken, saute strips or chunks of chicken breast in onion and green pepper in olive oil and butter along with dried herbs: rosemary and lots of it! Let all of this sizzle together for a few minutes then open a small can of diced tomatoes and pour in along with 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Cover again and simmer for about 15 min.

The last few minutes of cooking should be uncovered with the heat turned up to get it bubbly,  the sauce will begin to reduce and slightly thicken.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hosting Easter Brunch ~ Do something different!

There is still time to change the menu. If you would rather not do a 'crockpot' brunch though fast and frugal, but would like something with a bit more elegance and still be fast and frugal then try this. Though changing the hot menu on the host's part, you 'the host' can still ask guests to bring a salad/fruit/cheese or desert tray.

As this is a brunch, it is wise to have guests bring dishes that don't require heating or being kept warm. You as the host however, should provide dishes that are served hot/warm and even if they cool, will still be incredibly delicious. Now, if you go with the earlier suggested crockpot dishes, its a no brainer... they will still warm keeping that setting all the while you eat. And, its nice to have them on a buffet table plugged in against the wall. This way, you the host can enjoy eating and visiting.

However, I did promise to tell what to do if you want something different... not crockpot dishes. So, in that case, I highly recommend cooking one kind of lean meat which could be either beef or pork cutlets. Use small thin steaks or medallions sauteed in olive oil with seasonings. These would be prepared as guests line up for salads, fruits and cheeses. The meat in this size will cook quickly. Once done, set aside on a serving platter and cover. Then in the same skillet, saute fresh asparagus. When the edges blacken, turn out onto the same platter with the meat and in the same skillet do a cheese omelette topped with diced tomatoes or even homemade jelly. Guests can come to you at the stove/range on counter or you can set out the hot food as they begin to make their way to the main table after they have visited the salad/fruit/cheese buffet.

 *A little Catawba and Brunch is served!