Fresh, fast and frugal!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Italian Goulash ~ Linguine with Sausage, Meatballs, Peppers and Tomatoes!

Anything juicy is good... using the last of this summer's tomatoes and peppers, one can't imagine making anything else!

For this dish you will need: ground veal and mild Italian sausage (no fennel) and you will need fresh garden tomatoes and green/red peppers. Blanch about 6 whole tomatoes and remove the skin. Wash and cut up 4-5 peppers. Chop one whole onion and saute together with the peppers in olive oil. Once browned, add the whole skinless tomatoes to the onion and peppers. Simmer this for 3 hours until you have a delicious liquid... sauce.

Prepare meatballs: mix ground 1 lb ground veal with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1 tbs of grated parmesan cheese along with dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano, a dash of garlic powder and a pinch of salt.  Drop the meatballs into the tomatoes/pepper sauce which should be at a rolling boil. In the meantime, grill or pan fry 2 links of Italian sausage cut into chunks along with one diced tomato until slightly blackened. Boil the linguine in salted water. Once tender, drain and rinse.
Serve the drained linguine on large plates or even bowls, top with the meatball tomato and pepper sauce and add a few sausage chunks/blackened tomatoes. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Brainy Asian Beef with Spices on Linguine...

On linguine, of course. After all, pasta originated from Asia, right? Well, for a time it was thought that Marco Polo in 1295 brought from China the first dried pasta; but, there are Italian recipe books from twenty years earlier than that date containing references to pasta dishes. For certain, China is an ancient culture dating back thousands of years, so it's very likely that pasta existed in China and in other Asian cultures.

There is no huge difference between Italian and Chinese pasta or what we have become used to - western pasta which uses durum wheat flour and Asian pasta which uses rice flour. Is there a significant difference in taste? Some say yes and others say no.

For this dish you will need to have: ground beef or flank steak, (1lb) celery, carrots, green pepper and onion and pasta. If you use the flank steak, marinate in peanut oil, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. If you choose to use ground beef, then prepare meatballs by mixing the ground beef with several good shakes of soy sauce and steak sauce, 3 tbs of ketchup, 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup bread crumbs also a shake of garlic powder and some red pepper flakes with a pinch of salt.

Saute chopped onion and green pepper in a covered skillet. Push aside and either lay in thin strips of the flank steak or the meatballs.  Brown and bring back the onion and peppers, then cover while you prepare julienne celery and carrots. Toss in the skillet and cover while you prepare the pasta.

Before serving, add 1 tsp fresh grated ginger along with 3 tbs of teriyaki sauce to the meat. Finally, drain the tender yet firm pasta and ladle onto a low lipped serving dish, top with meat and sauce and sprinkle over the top with fresh dried parsley or cilantro.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*Remember, being brainy in the kitchen is up to. Any brainy recipe or instruction can be altered by you to make it your own brain invention.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Still in that down time of after Thanksgiving Blues....

Thanksgiving is a big event whether you eat in or out. Getting back into the swing of cooking is always tough. So, keep it simple for awhile. Make fajitas... all you will need to buy is either beef round steak or flank steak or even pork cut into thin strips. Use green, orange or red pepper, along with fresh green asparagus plus the tortillas.

Heat up a skillet with a several drizzles of olive oil. Toss in all sliced meat and veggies. Stir fry on high heat adding a dash or two of lime juice, paprika, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes and... believe it or not - a sound dash of soy sauce. The juices from the beef will come through nicely.

Heat your tortillas over an open flame and the next thing you know... you've got dinner.

Pour on the Chili Sauce and or Salsa ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Turkey Burnout or Turkey Burners?

Hard to gather up with a dinner idea after Thanksgiving... and, enough already with the leftover casseroles and deserts that became strange smoothies for breakfast, right? 

However, its not over yet at our house. The Brainy Gourmet is using the last of the turkey as soup for dinner today. Its a no brainer really, just get some chicken stock, add the last of the turkey meat diced, a couple of diced carrots, celery and Bobs your uncle. You can cream it or leave it clear.

Probably, you are already one step ahead having made soup from leftover turkey. And, maybe not. Try adding some fresh grated ginger and feel as if you have been cleansed.

Soup is good, but now, for the bigger issue on many minds... how to burn off the turkey and everything else that went with it.

The one thing the Brainy Gourmet does is dance; but, if you are more athletic, here are eight simple 'turkey burner' exercises you can do without special equipment:

1. Jog in place.
Warm up by jogging in place for 30 seconds.
2. Speed skaters.
Speed skaters are a fun way to work your whole body. From a standing position, take a big step to the right (like a side lunge). Bring your left leg behind you, and the left arm in front of you. Repeat on the opposite side and continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.
3. Mountain climbers.
From high plank position, engage your core and bring your right leg up to your right elbow. Switch and bring your left knee to your left elbow. Continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.
4. Split squat jumps.
Standing with feet shoulder width apart, jump into a lunge. Quickly jump and switch legs in mid-air. Repeat for 30 seconds.
5. Push ups.
There are lots of variations of push ups. If you can, perform this exercise with traditional push ups. But if you can’t, you could do push ups on your knees, on an incline, or even standing using a wall.
6. Crunches.
Be sure when you perform crunches you utilize your abs. Your arms and neck may try to take over doing the work. One way to avoid this is by keeping your arms at your sides or reaching in front of you (instead of behind your head).
7. Predator jacks.
Predator jacks are a variation on traditional jumping jacks. Instead of arms and legs moving out like in an X, you’ll keep your arms parallel to your chest and bring them out to your sides while simultaneously jumping into a squat. Jump back in and repeat.
8. Burpees.
Burpees are one of the best exercises you can do. Some people may not like them but they’re quick and effective — a total body workout. Do as many burpees as you can.

 As for a finale... cool down by gently stretching!

* Source - Check out this article ~

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

To Brine or not to Brine your Turkey?

Being brainy in the kitchen is not just knowing 'things', its also about learning 'things'. This year, more than in the past, the thing seems to be a question ~ to brine your turkey or not.

What is brining? The basic process involves soaking meat (usually lean meats, like turkey, chicken, or pork chops) in a tub full of heavily salted water overnight. Most brines are in the range of 5 to 8% salt to water by weight. Over the course of the night, the meat absorbs some of that water. More importantly, that water stays put even after the meat is cooked. By brining meat, supposedly you can decrease the amount of total moisture loss by 30 to 40%.

That means, you should in theory, have a juicier turkey, right? To understand what's really happening, you have to look at the structure of turkey muscles. Muscles are made up of long, bundled fibers, each one housed in a tough protein sheath. As the turkey heats, the proteins that make up this sheath will contract. Just like when you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, this causes juices to be forced out of the bird. Heat them to much above 150°F (66°C) or so, and you end up with dry, stringy meat.

Salt helps mitigate this shrinkage by dissolving some of the muscle proteins (mainly myosin). The muscle fibers loosen up, allowing them to absorb more moisture, and, more importantly, they don't contract as much when they cook, ensuring that more of that moisture stays in place as the turkey cooks.
However, brining robs your bird of flavor. Think about it: Your turkey is absorbing water, and holding on to it. That means that that extra 30 to 40% savings in moisture loss doesn't really come in the form of turkey juices—it's plain old tap water. Many folks who eat brined birds have that very complaint: It's juicy, but the juice is watery.

If I have learned a thing or two it is that some brine and some don't. If you have had success brining your turkey, then don't bother with this shared information. But, if you have been disappointed with brining and exhausted by the time and effort involved doing it, then simply cook your turkey without brining and give thanks!

*Source ~

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Exotic Dishes: Bacon with Asparagus, Ginger Pork with Peppers or Curry Pork...

Any of these dishes can be found on the side margin of this blog or in Brainy Archives on the Brainy Gourmet webpage.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lamb Chop with Mushroom Stuffed Ravioli...

You will need to buy: as many lamb chops as you will need (per guest), fresh or frozen mushroom stuffed ravioli, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Marinate the chops in olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, sea salt, a few garlic cloves and a little red pepper flake (s) for about 25-30 min.

To begin, start a large pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt as you pan fry the chops in olive oil and fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Once the meat is cooked through, add 3/4 cup of heavy cream.

Check the water, if it begins to roll, drop in the ravioli. When they rise up, stir for 2 min pushing them down gently letting them float up to the top again in a roiling boil. Drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving dish. Lay the chops along side and pour the sauce over the top.

Put out the Parmesan and enjoy!

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chicken Calabria... that means olives!

Everyone knows that olives and olive oil from Calabria are the probably the best there is. The climate has a lot to do with that outcome; just the right blend of sun and moisture creates a perfect blend of taste in the olive.

You will need to buy a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (one per guest). You should also have on hand or buy: tomatoes, green and black olives, purple, green and red bell pepper (s), garlic, fresh rosemary and fresh dried herbs:basil, oregano and mint.

Prior to cooking this wonderful Southern Italian dish, you will need to marinate the boneless thighs by pressing them in a simple wash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with sea salt, fresh dried herbs and fresh chopped rosemary, let sit for about 1 hr.

To begin cooking, take a covered skillet and pour in 4-5 tbs. of olive oil and saute on med. half of each pepper and one clove fresh garlic. When you see browned edges on the peppers, push them aside and lay in the thighs to sear the meat on both sides. Top with any remaining herbs from the marinate cooking for about 5-6 min.

Next, add 1/2 cup of fresh diced tomatoes and their juices along with a few green and black olives; allow to simmer for 25 min. covered. While the chicken simmers, prepare a delicate risotto. Boil about 2 and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, adding 2 cups of rice to gently simmer on med heat. Once the rice is tender having absorbed the stock almost completely, add a dollop of butter, 3/4 cup of diced tomato and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Cover and set aside.

When you are ready to serve, put out the risotto into a separate serving bowl and the chicken with olives onto a large low lipped serving platter.

Garnish and say "Tutti a Tavola" which means 'everyone to the table'!

*Tip~ Green olives alone work if you do not have or have a taste for black olives. And, as for the peppers, green peppers work just as well as the other colors. There is no need to hunt for purple/red.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sweet Italian Sausage with Shrimp ~ Brainy Jambalaya!

Saturday night in Louisiana, I am pretty sure they're havin Jambalaya.

You will need:1 pound of Sweet Italian Sausage and about one pound (depending on number of guests) of frozen shrimp (thawed/tail removed prior to cooking), onion, rice and hot sauce.

To begin, chop one onion and saute in olive oil until browned. Push aside in the skillet and drop the sausage (casing removed) as small bit sizes into the skillet to brown. Next, bring the onion back in over onto the sausage and add your spices: chili powder, coriander, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder and salt. Add about 1/4 cup of beef stock, stir and cover to let simmer on low.

Prepare to cook the rice. Boil water about 2 and 1/2 cup with a pinch of salt, pour in 1 and 1/2 cup of long grain rice. If you are having more than 4 guests, double this.

When the rice is done, drain and pour out onto a serving plate. Then pour out the sausage and shrimp in sauce (any remaining juices) from the skillet on top of the rice.

Get out your favorite hot sauces and beverage - and whew wee!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chicken Marsala ~ A Brainy Gourmet Version!

Another favorite dish - Chicken Marsala and with a view of the mountains of course!

You will need to have or buy: chicken thighs (skin on/bone in) six in a package is good. Also, onion, mushrooms, heavy cream and dry or sweet Sherry or Brandy if you don't have a Marsala wine. To begin: chop the onion and saute in olive oil along with fresh dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. Push the onion aside adding a drop or two more of olive oil and sear the thighs, skin side down. Turn over and brown the other side.

Bring the onion back in and pour over the top about 1/2 -3/4 cup of either Sherry, Brandy or the Marsala wine. Cover and let simmer for 35 min. Wash and slice the mushrooms to be sauteed in butter in a separate skillet. Bring water to a boil with a pinch of salt to cook a flat egg noodle pasta.

The more traditional Chicken Marsala does not use heavy cream but someone at our house loves this dish creamy and so it is added on the end to finish off the sauce. Once the pasta is tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving plate. Top with chicken and mushrooms and sauce.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*In case you prefer Not to use alcohol, you can substitute by using good ole Worcestershire sauce mixed with a bit of sherry vinegar and 1/2 tsp sugar.  In case you want to use alcohol but don't have any of the above on hand then simply substitute using whatever white wine you have, sweet is best along with a drop or two of Worcestershire or even apple vinegar if you don't have Worcestershire.

Any version will be brainy good!

Parmesean Encrusted Chicken and Ravioli with Red Sauce....

On a quaint garden terrace in Italy, someone is having the same dinner as you are.... 

For this dish, you will need to buy a package of chicken breasts (as many per person), one or two package (s) of ravioli any kind you like (serving at least 4 per person). And, you will need to have: onion, fresh grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, tomato paste and heavy cream.    

Turn on your oven to F400. Take out a glass baking dish. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom and lay in your chicken breasts. Drizzle olive oil across the top of each, also sprinkle on garlic powder and a bit of salt. Slide into the oven to bake for about 8 - 10min. depending on the number of breasts used.

Remove, and gently squeeze/spoon mayonnaise over the top coating each one also coating each with fine parmesan cheese (from a shaker table top container) and then a handful of fresh grated parmesan cheese finishing with a generous sprinkle of dried herbs: rosemary, mint, oregano and a bit of sage. Bake in the oven uncovered for about 25 min. depending on thickness and number of the breasts used.  
For the ravioli preparation, take out a small stock pot and fill with water. Put this on the stove on high flame, add a pinch of salt. Once it boils, add the (thawed if using frozen) ravioli, stirring occasionally. While the ravioli boil take the chicken breasts from the oven, cover and set aside while you start the sauce for the ravioli.

Melt 2 tbs of fresh butter and 3-4 tbs of olive oil in a small skillet on a med heat/flame. Add diced onion and saute until browned, then add 1/4 cup of tomato paste and 1/2 -3/4 cup of heavy cream, a dash of salt, garlic powder and fresh dried herbs.  If it appears to thick, just add unsalted chicken stock.

Check the ravioli to make sure they are tender and ready to be drained. Finally, ladle the ravioli onto a white low lipped serving dish. Cover with the sauce and garnish with chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes.

Serve with the chicken! ~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Veal Scallopini ~ Its the Best of the Brainy Italian....

Did you know that veal is enriched with vitamin B. This vitamin is essential for energy and healthy metabolism. Other than vitamin B, veal is a rich source of vitamin B-12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. People who consume beef on regular basis can easily switch to a smarter and healthy choice with veal.

For this dish, you will need a veal loin, caper, red peppers and pasta. To begin, pound down the veal cutlets with a meat tenderizing hammer. Next, prepare a small bowl of buttermilk to dip the veal in (you can use milk with a bit of sour cream to substitute for buttermilk) and then pat the veal with herb infused bread crumbs, sprinkle with garlic powder and saute in a blend of olive oil and butter; browning each cutlet on both sides.

Next, add diced roasted red pepper and chopped onion (optional/onion) as much as you like and half a jar of capers. Let this simmer on low heat while you prepare an angel hair pasta. with fresh grated parmesan cheese

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Brainy Thai Pork with Peppers!

Thai at home...the Brainy Gourmet way!

You will need to buy one pound packaged pork tenderloin, one box of rice noodles, one red and one green fresh crisp bell pepper and red chili paste. 

Grab a covered skillet and on medium heat melt in 3 tbs of coconut or peanut oil.  Slice up the red and green pepper tossing them up into the skillet. To this, add a seasoning mix of: sea salt, ground coriander powder, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of ground ginger.

GO easy on these  seasoning as this dish also calls for teriyaki sauce which has plenty of flavor of its own (use rice vinegar and brown sugar to substitute the teriyaki).

Let this mixture cook for about 8 min. Then, add to the skillet, 3-4 tbs of teriyaki sauce and one tsp of roasted red chili paste. Next, turn up the heat to high and let this mixture start to sizzle and bubble. Take the pre-cut pork (1 inch thick medallions), add a drop more of oil if needed, to sear on both sides, having pushed aside the peppers.

Cover and let cook for 12 min, on low flame/heat.  In the meantime, boil water, adding a pinch of salt, to cook the rice noodles. Keep an eye on the pork medallions and peppers, occasionally stirring.

Once the noodles are tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped white serving dish. Then, pour out the medallions and peppers. You can garnish as you like using fresh parsley.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Best Brainy Bread Recipe!


7 and 1/2 cups of flour
1 Packet of dry yeast
1 tbsp sea salt  
1 tsp of sugar
3 and 1/2 cups water

Mix warm water (100 degrees) and yeast first, then add flour, salt and sugar. Fold together and let rise for at least 8 hrs in a warm, not too dry place. The key to any bread's success is forming air pockets. When you pull the at the dough, after having risen, they should appear easily. 
If you want to make a quick Focaccia bread, as soon as it is risen, just pull some of the dough (amount you want to use) and literally plop it down (no kneading) on an oiled pizza pan and bake at 425 for about 40-50 min.depending on your oven. The remaining dough can be refrigerated.

* have either a dipping sauce of olive oil mixed with clarified butter with fresh dried herbs or just some good ole fashioned fluffy butter ready to spread... 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stew ~ Let me Count the Ways!

Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken Masala
Greek Garden Stew
Good ole Beef Stew
Malaysian Pork Stew

*Check the side margin 'blog archive' or go to Brainy Archives on the Brainy Webpage for ingredients and cooking instructions. And...Let it be stew!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chicken Tikka Masala with potatoes, groats and squash...

This dish is a favorite in the Brainy Gourmet kitchen and its not Italian. It's just brainy good!

Basically, all that you will need are: two 'in a package' skinless/boneless chicken breasts, onion, garlic, heavy cream/plain yogurt, tomato paste, a couple of tasty spices such as cumin, coriander and paprika and also some dried herbs like mint and rosemary.

Melt on med heat in 2 tbs of olive oil, 1 pat of butter and 2-3 tbs of coconut oil. Next, saute in the blended oils one chopped onion and one glove garlic until browned, then add cubed chicken breast meat, continue to cook on med heat.

To this add 3/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 cup of yogurt, one small can of tomato paste and your spices/herbs (using as much as you like; recommending 1 tsp of each). Cover and let simmer on low (30-40min) while you prepare sides. My family likes to eat this with potatoes and or buckwheat groats. You can also serve as a side a hearty dark green winter squash which is really nice baked and then mix with mashed potatoes... one way to get the kids to eat a good for them vegetable medley.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*Brainy frugal tip - the previous dish was chicken soup using chicken breasts. If you did not put the pasta into the soup and you have the left over stock with breast meat, it can be used for this dish. You can strain off the meat from the stock and use instead of using raw meat. Remember, left overs are only as good as they are still good - fresh in the meaning of not more than a couple of days old.