Fresh, fast and frugal!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Black Bean Meatloaf with Fries and Gravy...

Black bean meatloaf is touted as Tex Mex but if you put it with french fries and gravy (Poutine)... I'd call it good ole southern food. Its all how you cook it and or how you like it cooked.

For me this dish is always on the table the day after black beans with pulled pork. Why? Because, there are left over black beans and pork au jus.

To begin, just mix your meatloaf like you do any other - the Brainy Gourmet way which means... no cereal filler, no crackers, no egg and no veggies in the mix. *Check Brainy blog archives for meatloaf basics.

To this mix however, you will add about 1/2 cup of black beans... tender but dry and pasty to one pound of ground beef. Mix along with garlic powder, heavy cream and dried herbs (no bread crumbs as the black beans are the replacement) and mold into loaf. Place in oven on 375 in a glass dish drizzled with olive oil.

Next, take out the left over pulled pork au jus. When the meatloaf has browned from sizzling in the dish, its time to add the au jus. Return the meatloaf to the oven for 30 min.

In the meantime, prepare french fries to be baked in the oven for the last 12 min. of the meatloaf time. On the last 5 min, lay a slice of cheddar cheese over the top of the meatloaf. Prepare a gravy catalyst of flour and water.

When the meatloaf has finished, remove and place on a serving plate. Place the glass dish with au jus directly on the stove adding the flour and water to make your gravy.

Serve the fries and meatloaf topped with generous rich gravy and a green salad.

A few drops of Tabasco are definitely a must...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Beet Root Stir Fry with Meatballs and Linguine...

Stir fry can be what you want it to be... you can use just about any vegetable combination you like; even, beet root. You say...really, beet root? Now, you don't have to reveal the secret veggie until everyone is done eating.

This stir fry makes me think of Udupi (Indian) cuisine which uses primarily grains, beans, vegetables (beetroot), and fruits. However, as I remember, Udupi cuisine does not use meat, onion or garlic.

To begin, julienne a peeled medium beet root, slice purple onion, along with crisp green and orange or red pepper and flash fry in olive oil with a few drops of sesame oil if you have... its not necessary as olive oil will work just fine. To that, drop in a tsp of minced organic ginger and garlic.

Once the veggies are just singed on the edges, pour in 1/3 cup of Teriyaki sauce (from the bottle) and let this mixture sizzle a bit. Then, remove from the skillet and set aside while you fry the meatballs. For this dish you can use ground turkey, beef or pork.

Mix the ground meat as you would for any meatball dish using heavy cream, bread crumbs, dried herbs, a dash of soy sauce, a pinch of salt and garlic powder.

In the skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the meatballs on all sides. As the meatballs become browned, pour in 1/4 cup of soup stock, cover and let simmer while you prepare the linguine in boiling salted water.

When the pasta is tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving plater to top with the stir fry and meatballs after having brought the veggies and meatballs together in the skillet for a last flash fry.

Put some soy sauce and chili sauce...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Breasts with Mashed Potatoes...

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: fresh grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, dried herbs, Yukon Gold potatoes, butter 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 10-12 min. depending on the number of breasts used. I also like to pour in after the first 6 min. 1/4 cup of chicken stock and pop back into the oven for another 4-6 min.

After that time, remove the chicken breasts from oven 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, and oregano. Bake in the oven uncovered for about 15 min. depending on thickness and number of the breasts used.

As for the side dish, prepare about 6 large Yukon Gold potatoes to boil, using a dash of salt in the water. Once tender, drain and mash with 1/4 quarter stick of butter and 1/3 cup of heavy cream, along with a overly generous table spoon of sour cream. If you like your mash even more creamy then add more butter and cream.

Serve with a  fresh green garden salad of Romaine, spinach and arugula 'Rocket'.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Eggplant Parmesan in the Oven...

Eggplant Parmesan is as easy as pie in the oven. Wash and slice two medium/large sized eggplants. Layer in a glass baking dish in this way: olive oil, eggplant, tomato sauce, dried herbs, and parmesan cheese... repeat until the dish is full. I like to pour soup stock around the dish edges to make it brimming with liquid only because I like it juicy. Lastly, bake at 375  until nearly bubbling over.

Serve with garlic toast and a green garden salad...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Brainy Aussie Style ~ Marinated Lamb Chops ...

Any good 'Aussie Outback Bistro' will have really good chops... especially lamb chops!

Lamb chops are as good as Fillet Mignon and cheaper. You can order them at most chop houses and find them at most grocery meat counters: organic or free range. For this dish you will need: as many lamb chops as per person, olive oil, one lime, Worcestershire sauce and herbs. As for a side dish, sauteed brown mushrooms, frozen french fried Idaho potatoes and a lovely green salad.

To begin, marinate the chops in a drench of olive oil, squeeze of lime, dash of Worcestershire, pinch of garlic powder and sea salt and sprinkle of dried herbs: mint, rosemary and oregano. Let the chops marinate for about 15-20 minutes. They cook fast, so you can start the fries in the oven while they marinate. After the marinate time has passed. Take a skillet and heat it up with a drizzle of olive oil.

Sear the lamb chops on both sides and let them sizzle away til the juices run. Remove from the skillet and lay in a glass baking dish. Set in the warming oven or top of stove while you prepare the 'ceps' large golden brown mushrooms in the same skillet, adding a pat or two of butter.

When the fries are finished off to a nice crisp... serve with the chops, mushrooms and green salad.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Slow Cooked Cuban Pulled Pork with Black Beans and Rice

This slow cooked Cuban 'Mojo' Pulled Pork is the best combination of tangy and savory flavors. The term “Mojo” translates to sauce in the Spanish language. In Cuban cooking, Mojo is any sauce that uses olive oil, garlic, and citrus juices and is typically used as a marinade for pork. 

Mojo Pork is wonderful served over a bed of rice and accompanied by black beans... For this dish you will need: One 4 to 5 pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt roast), trim the fat. From the pantry, take out:

4 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tbs cumin 
1 tbs dried oregano 
2 tsp salt 
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper 
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth 
1/2 cup fresh orange juice 
1/4 cup fresh lime juice 
 1 Can of Black Beans 
 1-1/2 cups long grain white rice 
 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 

To begin, marinate the butt roast in the olive oil, cumin, oregano, salt, garlic, pepper, orange and lime juice for about 30 min. Next, turn up the oven to 375. You want to sear (in the oven) the marinated butt roast for about 40 min. 

After that time, turn on the slow cooker to high. Pour in the 1/2 cup of beef broth. Then lay in the butt roast. Let this slow cook for about 3 hours, adding extra broth if needed. Test the roast's tenderness after this time. If it does not pull apart with a fork, then continue to cook for another 1 hour or longer until it does. 
Boil the rice in the unused broth in a stove top lidded pot. As for the black beans, you can cook them in another small pot or skillet. 

Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce or hot sauce...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Brainy Greek Fish with Scalloped Carrot...

Greek Fish is an easy and delicate dish made in one pot, served with eggplant chips...

For this dish: use either fresh or frozen 'thawed' fish (cod or mahi mahi is recommended). In a deep pot on the stove melt in butter (3 tbs) and olive oil (3 tbs) then add 1/2 cup of chopped onion, a tsp of crushed garlic if you like and 1 cup more or less of grated/scalloped carrot.

Lay in the fish over the onion and carrot to sizzle for 3-4 min. on high heat. Next, pour over the top 1/3 cup of chicken or fish stock and sprinkle in fresh herbs: rosemary and Greek oregano. Reduce heat and let the simmer for 12-15 min. or until the fish is white and firm.

The eggplant chips should be made before the fish as they take longer to prepare. Thinly slice a large ripe 'washed' eggplant, bread lightly by brushing with low fat milk and pat each side gently with dried bread crumbs to flash fry in a shallow skillet of grape-seed oil.

Then move the fried eggplant slices to a cookie sheet with a rack to be baked in the oven on 350f. Once they are crisp with curling edges, serve with the poached fish/onion/carrot/herbs; include a dipping sauce of sour cream or yogurt and herbs to dip the eggplant chips.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Chicken Raclette with Fresh Green Asparagus...

Yes, chicken raclette's most important ingredient is cheese. Raclette is a kind of Swiss cheese that is most commonly used for melting. So, if you know the smell and taste of Swiss cheese, then you have an idea of Raclette. Can we then imagine this kind of cheese originated in Switzerland? Yes.

According to historic record kept in known monasteries at Obwalden and Nidwalden, we learn that William Tell had tasted Raclette as early as 1291. In those days, Raclette cheese was melted on an open fire and the soft melted mass gradually dropped off onto a plate.

For this dish you will need: chicken 'boneless/skinless' breasts (per person), onion, butter, pasta (using mushroom infused short linguine), raclette cheese, mushrooms, heavy cream and asparagus spears.

To begin, simply saute onion in olive oil, push aside and lay in the breasts adding a dollop of butter and extra drizzle of olive oil. Add the mushrooms after each side of the breast meat has browned. Sprinkle in dried herbs and cover and let cook for about 10 min on med. heat.
Next, add about 1/3 cup of raclette and 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Let this mixture simmer for 20-25 min on low heat while you prepare the pasta (boil in salted water until tender) and asparagus which is best sear and or blackened in olive oil and butter. 

~ Tutti a Tavola!

*Source for cheese history ~

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Creamy Peanut Thai Pork in Spicy Teriyaki with Lemon Grass...

A lot of home cooks follow recipes and are disappointed because the taste they expected did not 'pan' out... Yes, pan out. Why? Its because some recipes are not so 'tried and true' and also because our own taste buds know what they want and what someone else wants may not be what we want.

This dish is so simple because its what you want. Now, of course I am going to tell you what I want in a Thai Pork dish. I want thick sticky sauce with plenty of flavor, spice, kick and topped with delicate greenery.

To begin, saute chopped onion in olive oil until browned. Add to that pork loin medallions, browning on both sides, adding more olive oil if needed. Next, add about six diced 'jarred' sun dried tomatoes, and a dash of soy sauce along with 1/4 cup of beef or vegetable stock.

Let this bubble up on high heat and then reduce the heat while you dump in 1/3 cup or more if you like creamy 'you stir' peanut butter.  Then add 1/4 cup of Sesame Teriyaki sauce. Lastly, toss in 1/2 cup of dried plums.

If you like spicy, then add a dash or two of red pepper flakes, chili powder and garlic powder...

Serve with brown rice noodles or even use linguine...

If you don't have lemon grass, then just use fresh baby arugula.

~ Tutti a Tavola!