A friend and I have been talking food lately. As in food we are really needing / wanting to make because the temperature has dropped and it is time for the kitchen to get warm and cozy.
For those of us who live in colder climates, hot dishes, aka casseroles, are the comfort food that does more than just fill you up. Think macaroni and cheese, potato soup, chicken spaghetti, and, of course, Hot Dish.
If you have never tried a hot dish recipe, click HERE to see what Taste of Home has included with their collection of recipes. There are quite a few good ones and not all require tater tots.
Now, I know that for many folks, their first instinct is to exclaim “I can’t make those! They are too hard!” They really aren’t. If you aren’t sure, check out The French Chef on PlutoTV or other platforms that carry the show. There you will find episodes dedicated to these recipes and you can see exactly how Julia made them.
They might be a bit more involved than you are used to but they might also be less time intensive (hands on) than you think, too.
One way or the other, you will find some seriously good food!
August is that month when many folks deal with kids returning to school and the ‘normal’ shifts. There is a concerted effort to gather the necessities and prepare for the return to a more regular daily schedule.
For those of us without kids, or have older kids, the shift might not be so drastic but the need for a shift can be felt.
Many of my meals are pretty standard. I’ve been known to be on a ‘cheese sandwich for lunch’ routine that could last for months. I might switch up the sandwich, but the pattern would hold. Breakfast, my favorite meal, is not often the Big Meal I love, but is often cereal with occasional toasted something. (Toast is a THING in my house…) Lunch is often my main meal and as such can evolve and change depending on my whim or desire.
Lately, breakfast – that quick and easy start to my day – has become a bit… … … I hesitate to use the word ‘boring’, but <sigh>
My standard weekly breakfasts have been mostly cereal for months with little shift of the cereals (I switch between two) and the occasional toast. For a long time prior, however, I enjoyed my breakfast biscuits.
As a rule I don’t like early in the day heavy breakfasts. If I want a Breakfast (fill in with the full blown whatever your idea might be) it is usually for brunch. I’ve learned that eating early, around 6 a.m., tends to make me hungry by 10 no matter how much, or how little I eat. Annoying? You bet!
All that being said, and as much as I enjoy my cereal, I find that a change is needed. Hmm.
Perhaps it is time to return to yogurt? Maybe a return to the breakfast biscuits?
I have friends who bake their oatmeal for easy breakfasts that can be carried to work. I have to admit, baked oatmeal has been on my To Be Tried List… So have Breakfast Cookies, which seem to be a bit more complicated but just as easy to carry…
All said, a shift in the ‘regular’ meal pattern is a good thing. And I now have something to consider as I put together my next grocery order.
But sometimes it is the easiest, and cleanest, ways to enjoy things you might not have very often.
We recently were benefited by a rather large snowstorm that shut pretty much everything down for a few days. Not a regular occurrence around here. Because I paid attention to the warnings, I ordered groceries earlier than I normally would and, because it just seemed like the thing to do, I picked up some things I don’t normally buy.
I have to say that the change in menu has been wonderful!
The first thing off the bat was a lucky purchase of a couple of pounds of ground beef at a price that was palatable. I cooked it up and put it in the fridge so I could use it for a variety of meals.
I found a can of chili for chili dogs – something I never knew you could buy – and tucked it alongside the hot dog buns. The hot dogs were in the fridge along with the cooked hamburger and cheese. Because I really wanted something salty, I picked up a box of different snacks, which included some Fritos. So I had the makings for a Frito pie, or chili cheese dogs, or even tacos.
Yep, I picked up some taco shells, too. I don’t normally pick up the premade shells but this time it just seemed like a good idea. I tucked them into the oven to crisp up while I reheated the meat and pulled the cheese out of the fridge.
Messy. Tasty. Silly fun that I really did need to eat over the kitchen sink. 😀
While I don’t recommend this type of spurge very often, it is quite a nice change of pace from the standard chicken, pork, or whatever that is part and parcel of the regular meal plan.
And did I forget to mention that it worked perfectly with the snow days when we really couldn’t order in or go out for anything at all?
I have to admit, I miss Vinnie’s Vittles on YouTube. That is not to say the channel is not still there, along with all those great recipes. Sadly, due to a lot of things, mostly time related to the growth of Maymay Made It, Vinnie (Maymay’s trusty sidekick) decided to stop making videos for his channel.
Thankfully, we can all go back to earlier postings to see what delights he brought to the table. And there are lots of them!
Vinnie loves to cook and loves to find easy, flavorful recipes that don’t take a lot of time or ingredients but give great flavor.
Head over to YouTube and type ‘Vinnie’s Vittles’ in the search box to go to his channel. Browse the recipes and dive in. There are lots to enjoy!
As someone who started to cook in a farmhouse kitchen and who loves good food, I love to learn about food. I remember when the Galloping Gourmet was on TV (waaaaaay back in the early 70s). Sadly, in my neck of the woods, PBS signals weren’t that strong so I didn’t have the luxury of watching Julia child then. Later on however…
Fast Forward a Few Years
I fondly recall watching the PBS weekend home shows that included Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Graham Kerr (the Galloping Gourmet) among many others. I learned a lot.
When the Internet and streaming arrived, I discovered many other places to find good cooks who shared their best recipes, ideas, tips and tricks. Here are some of my recent discoveries. Check them out:
Graham Kerr’s Kitchen
As a result of wife Treena’s health issues, Graham Kerr started to learn new ways to create meals with healthier foods that were easily prepared, and quite tasty. What he discovered and created are some interesting ideas that can be easily customizable based on your own tastes.
If you are looking for healthy recipes with some creative ideas to create some amazing food check out the series.
You can find the series on YouTube, iFood.TV and Amazon Prime.
Glen and Friends Cooking
Glen and Friends is a Canadian based show produced for YouTube but found on iFood.tv (as LeGourmet). Glen and wife Julie focus on vintage recipes from cookbooks from his old cookbook collection bu there is a wide variety of foods covered. The recipes are interesting, the flavors different from what we think of as the average food profile of the day.
Glen has tackled a wide variety of things, including a series on discovering the recipe for KFC chicken.
Wyse Guide was a surprise I found on YouTube. Definitely the youngest of this crowd, Kaleb brings a wide variety of material to his website and his YouTube channel.
Want to learn the basics of baking? How to preserve and can foods? Find easy and tasty weeknight meal recipes? Kaleb’s your person!
Thanks to streaming, there has been quite a bit of cross-pollination of many, many shows. Several of Julia Child’s series can be found on PlutoTV on her very own channel. Ditto for America’s Test Kitchen. You can also find The Hairy Bikers on the BBC Food channel as well as over on Tubi and Crackle. Ciao Italia and P. Allen Smith are also found on iFood.tv. These are all free streaming channels.
I’ve found cookbooks over on Amazon, too.
If you are learning to cook or are looking to expand your repertoire, these are great options.
If you are like me, you love homemade or artisan types of bread. If you are also like me, cutting these loaves can be a trial.
In my case, I have a wonderful, sharp knife, but the effort to slice the loaf without crushing it, or getting a slice that is a bit, um, mis-shaped, is a trial.
For several years I looked to find a solution to this problem, thinking that I might purchase an electric knife to solve the issue. I admit, I did not know about the bread slicing guide until I happened to trip over a reference in one of my searches.
I needed something that would make the slicing easier, provide a variety of slice sizes, and would be easy to store away. What I found astonished me.
Pay attention to the information guide and note that while this is an easy to use product, there can be a bit of a learning curve. Like many first time users, I set mine up backwards – with the platform that the bread sits on lower than the knife guide. When I turned it over (right side up), it worked great!
It is easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store. At first I was concerned that the bamboo would be damaged by cutting, but that hasn’t happened yet. I do have issues using the knife, but I expect that to work itself out over time.
Oh, and I have not purchased an electric knife. 🙂
I purchased mine through Amazon, but as you can see on the link above, you can purchase directly from the manufacturer – and check out all the other products they have available!
We have all heard of blind tastings where we ‘thought’ we knew what we liked but discovered there were potential ingredient changes that would improve our cooking.
The recent blind tasting over at Sortedfood was interesting. Check it out:
Sometimes it makes a difference when you choose different versions of the same ingredient. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you discover that you are spending more money on something you don’t really like as much as the lower priced option.
In these days with higher prices and shortages, it pays to be a bit more elastic with our shopping. Trying brands that are in different parts of the store (i.e. shelf) could save a lot of money. Take it one step further and look for stores that cater to a certain cuisine.
Want to find the best produce? Looking for authentic ingredients at a price point that won’t compete with your car payment? Looking to learn more about flavors and foods from a different culture?
Your local markets and farmer’s markets are excellent resources. The big box stores can carry a lot of items but that does not necessarily mean that their quality is the best. It usually isn’t. Tiny local markets may not have the huge array of options but what they do carry is often in quantities that are easily usable without waste – even if their price point might be a bit higher. You might be surprised to discover it isn’t.
Sometimes you can find alternatives that are better quality, flavor, and even price, just by checking out a different part of the store.
One of my favorite ways to celebrate the bounty of fresh berries and fruit is the simple shortcake. No, not that grocery store sponge cake with the dip in the middle, a rich, simple shortcake that you pile the fruit &/or berries on along with a side of whipped cream or ice cream.
Now, I do have to admit that I’ve been known to pick up my favorite pound cake to use in place of a homemade shortcake – and that is a great option if you have a good pound cake recipe or can get your hands on a good one.
As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of Bisquick and love their shortcake recipe. You can find a link to it HERE.
That being said, I do love to make a scratch version, which oddly enough, isn’t much more work than the previous option. You can find a link to it HERE.
The next time you find a batch of beautiful fruit, consider whipping up a simple shortcake to celebrate it.