Fresh, fast and frugal!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

What to Do for a Brainy Quick Asian Fix...

If you have red or orange peppers and spinach leaves in your fridge, purple onion in your pantry along with linguine pasta, some soy sauce and or Teriyaki sauce... you have all you need for a brainy quick Asian fix.

Just stir fry slices of peppers and onion together in a blend of olive oil and coconut oil until browned. Add fresh washed spinach leaves and you already have the basic mix to toss over a bed of linguine; top with soy sauce. Of course, you can spice it up any way you like...

If you would like to add meat, then move the veggies to a serving plater to keep warm while you quick stir fry in the same skillet any meat (beef/pork/chicken) or seafood you prefer. Bring it all back together and serve over linguine pasta or rice noodles.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

What makes good Italian food, makes good food...

If you have been disappointed eating out or cooking at home, it means that you either made or were served over cooked food, or worse under cooked food or experienced an over/under complicated recipe. And, you might have used or were served a dish which had ingredients that were not fresh but pre-made.

Many ingredients that are pre-made can be used but most are not good quality because they are cheaply made as in prepared and packaged.. boxed, jarred or frozen.

Yes, there are some good quality products out there to buy that are packaged, boxed, jarred and frozen but knowing the difference is not always easy though not so difficult.  Check the amount of salt, sugar and added ingredients.

Find products that have limited salt, limited sugar and limited added ingredients (added for flavor/color/texture/preservatives) whether artificial or not ...added ingredients are not always a good thing. You want to buy products that are 'clean' ... simple.

For instance, when making spaghetti, choose quality tomato sauce (making your own preferably) and pasta.  Most of all, be a masterful conductor in the kitchen and know when to finish your dish and serve! 

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken with Ravioli in Red Sauce...

On a quaint garden terrace in Italy, imagine that 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!

What's to Get about Being a Brainy Gourmet?

The premise of this blog is simple... to encourage cooking at home for yourself, family and friends by providing fast, frugal and flavor filled food.  Its not about being 'cheap' but about being smart in the kitchen... being a wise home chef which is truly a blessing to you and yours.

This blog is not 'health guru' oriented. Yes, eating healthy is good for you but its not a science. It frugal common sense.

I have always encouraged not following a recipe but learning to cook by exploring basic quality ingredients and understanding your taste preferences: sweet and or savory or a blend. This is what every brainy 'frugal' gourmet ...gets.

This blog simply encourages being a brainy gourmet; sharing with you how easy and wise it is to choose available fresh food items from any store (including Aldi) which are of nutritional value: meats/fish, green vegetables along with some carbs and fruits; cook them at home in minutes and then sit down to a delicious meal... every day.

Cooking for yourself, family and friends has been proven to reduce stress, improve health, digestion and overall wellness. So be a brainy gourmet. Check out the brainy food ideas on this blog by going to Brainy Archives or follow the Brainy Gourmet daily using the Brainy App.

Hope this has been a blessing to you!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Brainy Pork Tenderloin Medallions in Sauce with Vermicelli...

Oh the taste of Italy...

For this dish you will need: one and half pound pork tenderloin, vermicelli pasta, beef stock, jarred sun dried tomatoes, green olives, dried plums, heavy cream, garlic, purple onion and dried herbs.

To begin, chop and saute one whole onion in olive oil along with one clove of minced garlic. As the onion browns, thickly slice the pork loin into medallions. Push aside the onion and garlic to lay in the medallions... browning on both sides.

Next, pour in 1/4 cup of beef stock and then add as many sun dried tomatoes and dried plums as you like and 1/4 of green olives. Sprinkle in the dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano. If you are brave, also sprinkle in some red pepper flakes, garlic powder and paprika.

Lastly, spoon in 4 tbs of heavy cream and simmer while you cook the vermicelli...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Anything with Linguine is Brainy...

Linguine pasta is great for a number of Italian and Asian dishes...

Start by stir frying chopped onion and or green/red pepper in olive oil, add  thin cut strips of meat or seafood i.e. shrimp if you prefer, include a green vegetable or two, diced tomatoes or chili peppers and the kind of spices you would use for either Italian or Asian (one or the other) style sauce to top the linguine with.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Mark's Brainy Baked Barbecued Chicken...

Make your house smell like a 'ranch' house... nothing like baked barbecued chicken.

For this dish you will need, as many chicken/thighs pieces as you will have guests or family; and you will need your favorite barbecue sauce, dried herbs, garlic powder and sea salt.

To begin, marinate the chicken pieces in the glass dish or baking pan that you will use to bake in. Coat the bottom with olive oil and a squeeze of barbecue sauce. Lay in the chicken, gently sprinkle on the garlic powder and sea salt but be generous with the dried herbs: rosemary, mint and oregano.

Then, pre-heat the oven to 375f. Pop in the oven for a little more than 1 hr and all the while your house will smell like a southwest ranch. Prepare any side you like to this simple summer favorite...

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Lamb chops on the grill or in the skillet...

For this dinner, you will need to buy: as many lamb chops as you will need (per guest), and a preferred side dish and salad mix.

Marinate the chops in olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, sea salt, along with a few garlic cloves and a little red wine or Worcestershire sauce, and rosemary for about 25-30 min.

To begin, either sear as in pan fry the chops in olive oil or lay on the hot grates of your outdoor grill.  Once the meat is seared on both sides in the skillet, let simmer with a bit of beef stock while you prepare a side and salad. If grilling, reduce heat and move chops to upper grates, topping with a squirt of liquid ...beef stock.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Brainy Summer Delight ~ Cooking with Apricots...

A summer lunch or dinner to be eaten on the porch...

You will need to buy a package of boneless pork ribs/chops or a pork loin to be cut into thick strips. You will also need to buy or cut fresh mint leaves from your garden. For this dish, use, if in season or available in stores, fresh apricots as a side and or condiment.

Melt in a covered skillet 4 tbs of coconut oil and 2 tbs of olive oil. Add to the oils, red pepper flakes, black pepper, garlic powder, sea salt and fresh dried crushed mint and oregano (the fresh mint will be used for a garnish).  Lay in your pork on high heat and watch them sizzle. Brown on all sides. When browned, add a few dashes of Louisianian hot sauce, then 1/4 cup of heavy cream and more crushed mint. Cover and let the pork cook on low heat for 8-10 min. depending on the thickness.

In another smaller skillet, melt in 2 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of coconut oil. Lay in your washed, halved and pitted apricots. As with your pork, let them sizzle away and brown on both sides. Squeeze in some organic honey and 3 tbs.of heavy syrup from any kind of preserved/jarred fruit you have in the fridge. If you don't, then any juice you have on hand will do. To that, you can also add a splash of apricot brandy or cooking sherry.

Prepare potatoes as an additional side, boil or microwave. Lastly, wash and cut all the fresh mint you want to use as garnish; only then are you ready to serve and enjoy.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Mark's Brainy Quick Summer Seasoned Pork Roast....

Our visiting chef has time to cook even during his busy summer holidays. How? Put a pork roast in the oven and then go outside to play ball, swim, or take a leisurely stroll along the canal...

All you need is a large pork loin roast and your favorite seasonings. Gently rub the roast with olive oil, herbs and other favorite seasonings. Lay in a glass baking dish and let it roast (on 375F) while you while away the hours in the summer sun.

Check on the roast from time to time, adding 1 cup of beef stock and cover with foil. Next,  prepare potatoes to boil for mashing and a green vegetable as sides. From the au jus, you can make a lovely creamy rich gravy.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Mark's Brainy Quick Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo...

Whenever the Brainy Gourmet has a brainy chef visiting from Europe, its always their day at the stove...the joy of cooking is to be shared.

For this dish you will need: one package of chicken breast strips, a box of fettuccine pasta, heavy cream, butter, parmesan cheese, chicken stock and dried herbs: rosemary, oregano and mint.
To begin, chop/dice the chicken breast strips and saute in olive oil with a pinch of salt, garlic powder or fresh minced garlic if you prefer and dried herbs until the chicken pieces are gently browned. Add to that, 1/2 cup of chicken stock and the same amount of heavy cream along with 3 tbs of grated Parmesan cheese.

Let this simmer while you prepare the pasta to boil in a large pot of salted water.

Once the pasta is tender, drain and rinse. Set aside while you prepare the sauce. In a glass measuring cup, mix 1 tbs of flour with 2 tbs of heavy cream and water until you reach the 1/4 mark. Add this to the skillet of bubbling chicken, stock, heavy cream and herbs and cook until the creamy.

Ladle the pasta onto a large low lipped serving plate and top with hot creamy alfredo. Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

~ Tutti a Tavola!