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"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, August 18, 2017

Rice, Shrimp and Vegetable Salad

Rice, Shrimp and Vegetable Salad

Yes, this recipe is easy. I found this salad cool and fresh to the taste.

 Ingredients:

20 small, shelled shrimp,f rozen
a dash of garlic powder
a dash of lime juice, concentrated
1/4 Chayote, sliced
1/4 onion, sliced
1/4 pepino, sliced and chopped
1 small tomato, sliced
Leftover white rice
1 dash of Italian dressing
ground black pepper to taste


Process:

 If you don't have any leftover white rice, it's easy to make. Just don't walk away and let the rice burn.

White Rice
1 cup White Rice
2 cups water
Add both to a pot.
Stir.
Place lid on pot.
Heat to simmer.
Simmer about 15-20 minutes, until water has been absorbed or evaporated.
If you want the rice cold, place in a covered container and put in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.
This batch of rice will be more than you need for this recipe.

Shrimp
Add about 20 small shrimp into a glass bowl.
Add 1/2 capful of lime juice concentrate.
Add a dash of garlic powder.
Stir thoroughly.
Microwave 2 minutes.
Remove and drain shrimp.

Add  about a cup of cooked rice to bowl.
Add cooked shrimp.
Add cut vegetables.
Add a dash of Italian dressing.
Add ground black pepper to taste.










Thursday, August 17, 2017

Easy Shrimp Pasta



Easy Shrimp Pasta




Don’t try to cook when you are hungry and tired. At least, that is a caveat I should observe.

I had had a long day. It was 7:30 at night and I was hungry and tired. I thought about making chicken salad tacos again, but I had had them for lunch.

So, I thought about what I had on hand: frozen vegetables, tortillas, a bit of onion, pasta, rice, cream cheese, black olives, raisins, canned soup, milk, fruit juice, and crackers. Hmmmm, Aha, I had frozen shrimp and I had been dying to try some shrimp recipes.


My GoTo recipe website is “Simply Recipes” (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/). I dream someday I will be able to cook like Elise but that’s probably a fantasy, not gonna happen.


But, it is soothing to read her recipes, she makes you feel like “You Can Do It!” I already knew I probably did not have all the ingredients or skill to handle most of the recipes but I saved a few for future experiments.


Then, I went to “Cooks.com" (http://www.cooks.com/), where I knew I would probably find a few easy recipes. I found one, “Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi.” Oh my, what is scampi?


I started with a pot of water and a package of spaghetti. While I appreciate all those various types of pasta, spaghetti works for me for most pasta recipes.


As the water was heating up, I struggled to skin a garlic clove. After finally getting the skin off, I chopped the clove into small pieces and added them to a small skillet sitting on the counter.


Then, I added a little olive oil, a dab of butter, a palmfull of crushed parsley, black pepper and 2 grains of rock salt to the skillet.

I kept reading the recipe, then did a few exercises while waiting for the water to boil. I knew if I left the kitchen a disaster was predictable.


Ok, water is boiling, add pasta, a dab of olive oil and wait until it is done. I have a two burner hot plate but only use one for cooking, the other holds a stack of pots, pans and lids, like the Tower of Pisa, better not to touch.


When I tested a strand of spaghetti, it was not done. I wondered just how chewy could I tolerate in order to finish this dish quickly?


A few more exercises, then I poured a bit of Blanco POX into a sherry glass. POX is a Mayan alcoholic beverage made from corn. I had bought two types, one was vanilla flavored with the alcohol percentage similar to Sherry, it is smooth and tasty. The other was Blanco, original unflavored, it has the alcohol percentage of hard liquor. One sip and “Fire Water” came to mind.


As a side note, I should not be drinking alcohol but I occasionally fall for the romance of liquor. Add in a little history and mystery and POX is a very romantic beverage.
( http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2017/07/pox-a-mayan-elixir-that-embraces-the-soul-and-caresses-the-heart/)



I tested the pasta again, almost done. I removed the pot from the burner and set it aside. With the skillet on the burner, now, I began to heat up the garlic and spices.

Gosh, I have to thaw the frozen shrimp. I knew there was a way but I just put about 20 small shelled shrimp in a glass bowl and microwaved them for a minute. It worked.


Now, I added the drained shrimp to the oil and spice mixture. Then, I got the idea, add some of those black olives. I got the container out of the frig, darn, they were whole olives, but pitted. So, I just spooned a few into the skillet without slicing them. I let the mixture cook for about a minute more.


After draining the pasta, I forked a serving onto a plate and topped it with the cooked shrimp mixture and sprinkled the whole thing with a bit of Parmesan cheese.


While the mixture was tasty, the shrimp got lost in the pasta. I couldn’t finish the POX, so I poured it over the remaining pasta and stored the leftovers in the frig. Will see later if the POX has any effect when I use the pasta later.


Gosh, according to Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scampi) Scampi means large shrimp prepared with a garlic-flavored sauce. So, I am calling my recipe, Easy Shrimp Pasta since my shrimp were not large, not tiny, not medium but small.





Ingredients:

20 small shelled frozen shrimp, thawed
1 package of spaghetti
Water to fill a pot 2/3rds full
2 dabs of olive oil
1 dab of butter
1 garlic clove, skinned and chopped
1 small palmfull of parsley, crush when adding to skillet
ground black pepper
salt to taste 
Optional: black olives, preferably sliced
Topping: Parmesan Cheese


Process:

Thaw shrimp in microwaveable bowl for one minute, set aside.

Add enough water to a pot to cook spaghetti, usually about 2/3rds full.
Once water is boiling, add spaghetti and a dab of olive oil.
Cook spaghetti about 8-10 minutes until spaghetti strands are tender and easy to chew.

In a skillet, add a dab of olive oil, chopped garlic, butter, parsley, and ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Drain the shrimp and add to mixture.
Optional: add olive slices.

Heat mixture on medium.
Stir mixture thoroughly.
Cook for about 1-2 minutes.

Fork a serving of pasta on a plate.
Pour skillet mixture over pasta.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Using Carry Out Selections to Make Multiple Meals

Here is one of my favorite ways to save money and get some great meals in the process. Now, I do make small meals, so what one person calls a meal and what another calls a meal will make this option vary greatly.

In my colonia, I have several prepared food choices. My two favorites are a cafe that makes vegetarian inspired meals and a Chinese takeout.



The cafe meal, which costs about 60 pesos, comes with a salad, rice and the main course. The main course is usually grilled chicken breast with a sauce or a vegetable concoction. I make two meals of from the main course items.

The meals also comes with a fruit beverage, soup and corn tortillas.

I freeze the beverage and defrost it later to make coolers (water with ice and some flavoring), I can make one drink last a few days. The soup is also frozen and when I defrost it and heat it up. I make a sandwich for another meal. So, that's about 3 meals for 20 pesos each.

Plus, I microwave the tortillas to make corn chips for dip.

With the Chinese carry out, which costs about 60-80 pesos, depending on the number of items you choose, I take plastic containers and portion out a mix of the various items, rice, noodles, chicken and vegetables, sweet and sour chicken etc. into each container, often making about 5 meals. I freeze them and use them as needed. That's about 15 pesos a meal.



Making Healthy Meals from Products at Local Tiendas

Where I live there are several tiendas nearby, small mom and pop affairs, commercially-owned deli-types and corporate-chain convenience stores.

When you first walk into any tienda, you get the sense the most popular items are chips, candy and soda.

But, tiendas offer a wider range of products, too.

Below are some pictures from various local tiendas. Not all tiendas offer the same number or types of products.














What I did not get a picture of is the fresh fruits and vegetables. Often you can get bananas, apples, potatoes, onions, squash, chayote, limes, garlic and the choices may change.

So, can I make healthy meals from products from a tienda?

You can find condiments like mayo, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and some spices and hot sauces, various deli meats, canned tuna and canned sardines, salsas, canned beans or dried beans.

Refrigerated products might include: orange juice, a few cheeses and yogurts, lunch meat and other items. Plus, there may be a deli where you can get a variety of sliced meats and cheeses.

Because they offer white rice, spaghetti and pasta, I can make several dishes. With tomato sauce or salsa, onions, garlic and canned vegetables, I can make a sauce and toppings for spaghetti, or make fried rice, or a casserole.

With potatoes, I can make baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, or with milk and cheese, a potato casserole. Toppings can be tomato sauce, mixed vegetables or canned beans.

Some tiendas have packaged cereal and some also have raw oatmeal and raisins, so with fresh or canned fruits, yogurt or milk, I can make several breakfast cereal meals and desserts.

Some tiendas have eggs, milk, creme, flour, sugar and baking powder, so that expands the choices for making several dishes, like pancakes, fritters, homemade ice cream, biscuits, and more.

You can find canned pineapple and often canned peaches, if you can't find fresh fruit which you can add to many recipes.

With bread or tortillas, along with other ingredients like eggs and milk, mayo and tuna, lunch meat, or pineapple chunks, I can make french toast, tacos and wraps, or sandwiches, and bread pudding.

While you can often find bags of dry beans, so far, I have only been successful using dry lentils, not the other types of dried beans. But, I can make a lentil salad..

You can make healthy meals using products from tiendas.

The positives are convenience, which can mean a lot if you don't have a car, and a sense of community. You are more likely to meet your neighbors at a local tienda.

The negatives are the items usually cost a little more and selections are limited. But, from another perspective, going to the local tienda can cost less because you can carry items home rather than use a cab and more tiendas means more jobs.

I am still trying to do budget comparisons, can I save money by shopping at tiendas? No answer yet, because I do go back to the bigger grocery stores for items I can't get at tiendas.

Lots of Good Food -- Made by Someone Else :-)

Been doing a lot of visiting these days. Eating out a lot. The only downside is I eat more than I normally would therefore I gain weight.




Joseph's Diner - Loved the Reuben, packed with corned beef and the sauce was great.  Mom loved Reubens.




Bistro Cultural -- Rabbit dinner - don't often get a chance to eat rabbit. This was good. Rabbit, I think is a bit on the lean side, less meaty than chicken but tasty.






My attempt at Spaghetti Sauce -- While I cooked down fresh grown tomatoes and added spices, my sister add the ground beef and more spices to make a very tasty spaghetti sauce.





 Charm -- Thai Restaurant -- Shrimp fried rice. It looked like more than I could eat but I put a big dent in this dinner and took some home.






Charm -- Thai Restaurant, homemade Tea flavored ice cream. It did taste like tea. I liked it.




 IHOP - a garden omelette. It was great, chock full of fresh vegetables.



Cracker Barrel -- had to get a picture of the rocking chairs on the front porch. Every time I go to Cracker Barrel, I have to get grits and collard greens!!

My Niece's Salads

Better late than never. I forgot to add a picture of my niece's salads, now she is a cook where as I am not.


On a recent visit, she served a group of us with fresh and lovely salads. What makes these salads unique beside containing fresh ingredients is my niece made each one different according to the recipient's tastes, some for meat eaters, others for vegetarians and some without various ingredients for those who don't like x, y, or z.

Very thoughtful and very tasty.

One Pot Spaghetti Dish

One Pot Spaghetti Dish Recipe

Ingredients:
41/2 cups of water
1 pkg spaghetti
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 dashes of red pepper sauce
1 palmful dry basil, crushed between palms
2 TBs olive oil
A small pinch of rock salt
Several grinds of black pepper
Garnish: parmesan cheese, a few grinds of black pepper, basil

Process:
Add water to large skillet with tall sides.
Break bunches of spaghetti in half, add to water.
Add the rest ingredients including the spices, except the garnish.
Bring mixture to a boil, boil for about 9-15 minutes or until liquid is reduced to a very small amount. Stir frequently.

When serving, season again with a few grinds of pepper and a sprinkle of dry basil.
Serve with parmesan cheese.

As you can see, I had few of the original ingredients listed and had to make substitutions. This is a revelation because I could never make substitutions before but it is getting easier.

The dish was tasty but it took me almost 30 minutes to boil off the liquid on my finicky hot plate. Wonder how this would work in a microwave?

This was a surprise, I think the red pepper sauce brought out a lot of the flavor in this dish.

Note: Next time add more tomatoes.