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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hot Dog Quesadillas

Don't get too grossed out over this recipe. Sometimes, I like a hot dog with mustard, relish and more.

You may have noticed I like sandwiches of all kinds.

Part of this stems from the fact sandwiches are easy to make and part of it stems from fond memories of visits to a restaurant, Roy's Place, in Maryland that has a multi-page menu of sandwiches made with a wide variety of fillings and breads.

For example, the sandwiches are numbered 1 - 216 and they have funny titles like:
121. THE CHESTER A. CHESTER™ (A real two-breasted sandwich) Special brisket roasted in ale and chili with sharp cheese & tomatoes on three decks, spread with our own chili mayonnaise and showered with onions........$10.19

If you follow the link to Roy's Place, you can see the menu.

Hot Dog Quesadillas

Olive oil
2 large tortillas
2 hotdogs, cut into pieces
Bottled relish
Beans, Black or any kind
Grated Cheese

Cook the hot dog pieces in the microwave 1 1/2 minutes on high.
Add a dab of oil to skillet.
Add tortilla.
Once one side is brown, turn it over.
Add hot dog pieces on top, on one side.
Top hot dog pieces with beans.
Add cheese.
Add relish and mustard.
Fold tortilla over.
Remove from skillet to plate.

Servings: 2

Friday, July 24, 2015

Jackson Pollock Wedge Salad

You won't see creatively decorated cupcakes on this blog. Nor, will you see artistic plating. I don't have a creative bone in my body but I do like art and trying to be creative even if it's just using a empty bean can to hold pens.

I like wedge salads because they are easy, fun, creative and hopefully healthy.

The foundation of a wedge salad is a wedge of iceberg lettuce, where a head of lettuce is cut into quarters or more.

Then you add whatever salad additions and dressing you want.

I am calling this wedge salad, my Jackson Pollock wedge salad, named after a famous abstract artist who painted by dripping paints onto a canvas. With this salad, I used several leftovers.

Jackson Pollock Wedge Salad

1 wedge iceberg lettuce
1/8 Red onion, cut however you like
1/4 Green pepper, cut however you like
1/2 Tomato, cut however you like
2 tbspns black beans, drained
2 tbspns cottage cheese
grated carrot
ground black pepper

Additions: Add whatever else you can find like: sliced olives, artichoke pieces, mushrooms, carrots or other items.

Place 1 wedge of lettuce in a bowl.
Sprinkle with onions, peppers, tomato pieces.
Add black beans.
Add cottage cheese.
Sprinkle with grated carrot.
Sprinkle with  black pepper.
Dribble dressing over salad.

I used my Yogurt/Mayo Sauce as a dressing. Here's the recipe.

Yogurt/Mayo Sauce with Paprika

1/3 cup plain yogurt*
2 tablespoons mayo
A dollop of vinegar
A dash of salt
1/8 tspn sugar
A dash of paprika

Mix ingredients in a bowl or container with a lid.
Stir well to blend all ingredients.

*Note: Yogurt in Mexico is more liquid than solid, add a little milk, if needed, to thin the sauce.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Salmon Salad Stuffed Tomatoes with a Yogurt/Mayo Sauce

I was in the mood for a snack and also wanted to try and make a sauce.

Thought I'd use my leftover Salmon Salad Mixture.

With this recipe, you can make stuffed tomatoes for a snack or a meal depending on the size of the tomatoes.

While this recipe calls for 1-4 tomatoes, I just used one small one to test the recipe. It made a great snack.

What's great about both recipes is that if you have leftovers, they can be used in other ways.

Salmon Salad Mixture

1/2 418g/14.75 oz can Salmon, drained
1/4 Green pepper, diced
1/4 Red onion, diced
1 - 1.5 Tablespoons mayo
Ground black pepper to taste
A dash of paprika

Mix ingredients thoroughly in a container with a lid.
Store in frig to cool.

Salmon Salad Stuffed Tomatoes
(Adapted from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Recipes/Tomato-Stuffed-with-Dill-Salmon-Salad_UCM_468791_RecipeDetail.jsp)

Salmon Salad Mixture
1-4 Tomatoes, small to medium
Yogurt/Mayo Sauce (See recipe below.)

After washing tomatoes, slice off the top of the tomatoes.
Using a knife and spoon, scoop out the inside of the tomatoes.
Fill tomatoes with the Salmon Salad Mixture.
With a spoon, pour a little Yogurt/Mayo Sauce over the tomatoes.

Will need a knife to cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.

Yogurt/Mayo Sauce with Paprika

1/3 cup plain yogurt*
2 tablespoons mayo
A dollop of vinegar
A dash of salt
1/8 tspn sugar
A dash of paprika

Mix ingredients in a bowl or container with a lid.
Stir well to blend all ingredients.

*Note: Yogurt in Mexico is more liquid than solid, add a little milk to make thin the sauce.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Canned Salmon Vegetable Salad - In Two Stages

I love crunchy and ground black pepper, so when I make this salmon mixture for a salad, I double down on diced vegetables and black pepper.

Salmon Salad Mixture*:

1/2 418g/14.75 oz can Salmon, drained
1/4 Green pepper, diced
1/4 Red onion, diced
1 - 1.5 Tablespoons mayo
Ground black pepper to taste
A dash of paprika

Mix ingredients thoroughly in a container with a lid.
Store in frig to cool.

Salmon Vegetable Salad

1-2 Tblspns Salmon salad mixture (see above)
Several lettuce leafs
1/4 Green Pepper, diced
1/8 Red onion, diced
1-2 tablespoons, black beans, drained
1/8 cup Grated carrot
Ground black pepper

Lay a few lettuce leafs in a bowl.
Top lettuce, with 1-2 tablespoons of salmon salad mixture.
Sprinkle mixture with green peppers, onion, black beans, and grated carrot.
Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.

*Leftover salmon mixture can be used in other recipes.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Battle of the Meatballs - Waikiki Meatballs Appetizer

My friend, C, agreed to participate in a "Battle of the Meatballs" for fun. Here is her contribution.

C is a good cook, so her recipe may be more challenging.

Waikiki Appetizer
To make the following appetizer I combined two different recipes. Basically I used one recipe for the meatball part and the other recipe the sauce part and a few changes.

Meatball Ingredients:
1 ½ pounds bulk pork sausage (or could use ground beef)
1/2 cup bread or cracker crumbs
½ cup minced onion
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ginger (or 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger)
¼ cup milk or water

Mix the above and shape mixture into rounded bite-size meatballs.  
Put 1 – 2 tablespoons of olive oil in frying pan; brown and cook meatballs.
Take meatballs out of pan (and if you want drain on paper towels).

Ingredients Sweet & Sour Sauce:
1 can of pineapple (13.5 ounces tidbits) 
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup chopped green peppers (about the size of the pineapple tidbits)
½ cup drained maraschino cherries, cut in half
Optional: Add ½ cup sliced carrots. (Need to cook carrots ahead of time since they take much longer to cook. After cooking then add to sauce for warming). 

Drain pineapple; reserve syrup.
Add enough water to syrup to measure 1 cup. 
Add brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and soy sauce in large saucepan.
Cook and stir until sauce boils and thickens.
Add green peppers, cherries, pineapple, and sausage meatballs. 
To serve, you can eat with or without rice.

Makes 6-8 appetizer servings.

"I really liked the sausage instead of ground beef, tasty!" -- C

Thanks C, this was fun.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Vegetable Fritters

Working on the next volume of Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook cookbook continues to be an amazing journey.

Right now, I am fascinated by how basic ingredients like flour, baking powder, s/p, eggs, and milk and more used in various combinations can be used to make: Pancakes, Crepes and more.

It's shocking I never thought of making Fritters before, I love Fritters. After a little research, I found that you can make Fritters out of a variety of fruits and vegetables like: apples, bananas, and broccoli, cauliflower, corn, and more.

So, I found another way to use my leftover vegetables.

While I have been focusing on making healthy meals, side dishes, desserts, and snacks, this recipe uses a lot of oil to fry the Fritters.

Plus, I found the recipe fraught with dangers.

I wanted to cut up the vegetables small enough to make a nice addition to the batter rather than making it too lumpy. Luckily, my knife was not super sharp, so I did not cut myself as I have in the past.

Then, adding a lot of oil into my small skillet was nerve-racking because, I was one wrong move away from spilling very hot oil and maybe causing a kitchen fire or burning myself These are some of the things you need to think about when you cook.

Vegetable Fritters
Adapted from: http://www.thriftyfun.com/Corn-Fritter-Recipes.html

2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

9 Cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 teaspoons green peppers, diced
1 teaspoon shallot bulb, diced
2 teaspoons canned mushrooms, drained and diced

Other Ingredients:
Olive oil for skillet


Step One
Dice tomatoes, green peppers, shallot bulb and mushrooms.
Place in a separate bowl.

Step Two
Add dry ingredients into another large bowl.
Crack an egg into a separate bowl to make sure it's a good egg. If so, add to dry mixture.
Stir to mix thoroughly.
Add milk.
Stir and mash batter thoroughly to remove any lumps.
Add diced vegetables.
Stir to distribute vegetables throughout batter.

Step Three
Add about 1-2 inches of oil to skillet.
Heat oil to medium-high.
Once oil appears to sizzle, use a large serving spoon, get a scoop of batter and drop it into the oil.
If there's room, add another scoopful.
Soon, the edges of the fritter will brown.

Be careful not to tip the skillet.
Be careful, wear an apron in case the oil splatters.

Using a turner, carefully flip the Fitters, one at a time, to cook on the other side.
They should take about five minutes to cook.
Cook maybe 2 minutes on each side to brown the fritter.

Step Four
Remove to a plate when done.
Use paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Cook more Fritters until batter is exhausted.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes

I like cherry tomatoes but if I don't use them quickly, so within about two weeks, they go bad. So, I have been looking for recipes using cherry tomatoes.

This recipe is great because the marinated tomatoes can be used as an added ingredient in omelettes; salads; rice dishes, warm or cold; and on sandwiches.

Plus, I am assuming because the tomatoes are marinated they may keep longer. But, I don't know that yet, since I already ate them all.

Marinated Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Marinated-Cherry-Tomato-Salad/

1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
A dollop of olive oil
1 Tbspn table vinagre
1 Tbspn Balsamic Vinegar
1 palmful dry parsley, crush between hands
1 palmful dry oregano, crush between hands
1 palmful dry basil, crush between hands
Ground Black Pepper to taste.
A dash of salt (optional)
1/3 tspn sugar

In a bowl or covered container, add olive oil, vinegars, herbs, salt and sugar. Stir.
Add tomatoes. Stir to coat tomatoes. If necessary, add more oil.
Place bowl or container in frig to chill for about an hour.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Blueberry Pancakes with Yogurt Topping and the Frustration of Cooking

"Never start cooking when you are hungry and
don't have all the ingredients ready at hand."

I keep forgetting why I don't like to cook.

Dirty dishes is one big reason. Not having all the ingredients is another. All the steps, processes and utensils needed in preparation is another, but frustration is my biggest problem.

While I can reduce frustration by choosing "simple" recipes and other tactics, it is the unexpected that often frustrates me. But, part of learning to cook is learning to be innovative when problems arise.

After mixing the dry ingredients, I went to get my last egg. Oh no, would the egg be good? If not, that meant a walk across the street to buy more eggs, and that meant putting on good clothes etc. That meant making breakfast was going to take longer. Nothing seems quick or simple when I cook. Luckily, the egg was good.

In this case, after I gathered all the ingredients, I assumed that opening a new bag of frozen blueberries would be "easy", as easy as it had been before. But, the "tear here" tab did not come off cleanly and left no ability to open the package easily. After, I got it open, it was hard to open the individual bag of berries. Scissors helped, so did beating the bag on the counter to break the seal.

This diverted my attention from the skillet and I almost burned a pancake. Then, by just turning the hot plate knob to #3 seemed to turn the plate off, so I turned it up a smidgen and the pancakes cooked faster.

In the end, the pancakes survived and the blueberry & yogurt topping was good. In Mexico, most yogurts are in a drinkable form, not a solid, I think a solid yogurt topping would be creamier.

I am still looking for the recipe that got me started on this.

But, until I find it, here's a link to a batch of great pancake recipes:


Blueberry Pancakes with Yogurt Topping


1 1/4 cup flour
2 tspns baking powder
1/4 tspn salt or less
1 1/2 tspn sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
2 tbspns olive oil

Plain yogurt
1 tablespoon frozen or fresh blueberries
Note: Microwave the frozen blueberries for about 45 seconds.

Mix dry ingredients together well.
Add milk, egg, and oil.
Stir and mash until mixture is smooth.
Add frozen blueberries and stir.
Batter should be slightly thick. If batter is too runny, add a little more flour and stir until batter is smooth.

Add a dab of olive oil to skillet.
Use a large serving spoon to scoop up some of batter.
Drop the batter into center of the skillet.
Cook on medium-high.
When the batter bubbles throughout, flip the pancake over to cook on the other side.
Pancakes cook quickly, so be careful not to cook them too long.
The finished pancake should be light to dark brown on each side.

On a stack of pancakes, pour a little yogurt, top with blueberries.
Servings: 6-7 medium-sized pancakes.

In the end, I do like learning how to cook because it is challenging and fits with my frugal philosophy but going out to eat these days is a whole lot more enjoyable after all my preparations, cooking and cleaning.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Simple Salad without Lettuce and DIY Vinaigrette

Here's a quick post about making a salad with the idea of Use What You Have.

I had some leftover (LO) green pepper, scallions, carrots and some pepino (cucumber) slices left over from making a Pepino Cooler (more on that later). I had cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

So, I diced the green pepper, and a scallion and added them to a bowl.

Then, I grated some carrot over the bowl. I sliced several cherry tomatoes in half and diced the pepino slices. Then I diced some cheese and added all these to the bowl.

Then, I decided to add some spoonfuls from a LO Spanish rice dish

Now, what do I use for a dressing?

I was venturing into making my own dressings. So, I adapted a simple recipe for Vinaigrette dressing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, UNL Food and now I had a tasty salad.

A Simple Salad without Lettuce

2-3 Pepino or Cucumber slices, diced
5-6 Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Scallion, sliced
1/4 Green pepper, diced
1 Slice of Mozzarella cheese, diced
Grated carrot
1-2 tbspns cooked rice
1/4 lime slice, juice

Add pepino/cucumber, tomatoes, scallion, green pepper, cheese, carrot, rice in a bowl.
Squeeze the juice of 1/4 of a lime slice over salad.

DIY Vinaigrette
Adapted from: http://food.unl.edu/fnh/olive-oil-dressing

1 jar with a lid
3-4 parts olive oil
1 part balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
Ground black pepper to taste

Add these items to a jar with a lid. Shake and pour.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Battle of the Meatballs -- My Small but Mighty Meatballs

Originally, I had suggested to a friend, C, that we have a meatball recipe contest for fun. While I had made meatballs before, I wasn't satisfied, I wanted to put my best meatballs forward.

I don't know how to post this recipe, so much changed while I was cooking.

I had perused lots of meatball recipes and choose two as my starting point. But, after I made adaptations, I am not sure they resemble those recipes much.

For example, I didn't have an onion but I some shallots, so I diced the stalks of the shallots and used those. I did not use the shallot bulbs because I thought the onion flavor might be overwhelming.

When I went to add the egg, I cracked the egg into a separate bowl just to make sure it was a good egg. It wasn't.

Lately, I have been having problems with the eggs I get from the local tienda. When I first starting buying them, I was surprised all the eggs were double yolked.

But, in the last few weeks, some the eggs have spoiled. Normally, I keep them on the counter and have not had a problem with bad eggs in over a year. Now, I have had issues with the last two egg purchases. For the last purchase, I had washed the eggs and put them in the refrigerator and still one egg was bad. (See resources for information on egg storage.)

The next egg was fine.

Then, I decided to add some bacon bits because most meatball recipes call for pork and I have a hard time finding ground pork.

I thought I had crushed red peppers but no, then I found my container of little spice packets that come with pizza deliveries and found some red peppers.

Then, my hot plate, while set at #2 which I thought was a simmer, burned my minced garlic. I added a bit of water to try and get a simmer. I also turned the dial to #1.5 and it seemed it stop cooking.

Now, I turned it #3 to get some kind of cooking heat and it's was a high simmer.

Then, while I was trying to cook the meatballs, the hot plate seemed to stop working. In the summer, we have brown outs, I suspected a small brown out.

So, I put the rest of the uncooked meatballs in a covered glass casserole dish with dab of olive oil and microwaved them on high for 2 minutes.

The end result, while both the fried and microwaved meatballs tasted very good, I liked the microwaved version better.

Note: I freeze the meatballs then when I reheat them I add tomato sauce for: pasta with meatballs, meatball sandwiches and other dishes.

Small but Mighty Meatballs
Adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/The-Best-Meatballs/ and http://www.cookingnook.com/recipe/meatballs-recipe/


Olive oil as needed
1 garlic clove, diced
1/4 medium onion, diced, or 2 shallot stalks, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 egg
2 tspns dry parsley, crushed
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 tspn oregano
1 tspn crushed red peppers
1 tbspn bacon bits
1 cup saltine crackers, crushed, or bread cubes
Ground black pepper to taste
Milk if needed for moisture

Add oil to skillet.
Sauté garlic and onion until soft.
Add cooked garlic and onions to large bowl.
Add ground beef, egg, parsley, parmesan cheese, oregano, red peppers, bacon bits, crackers, and black pepper to bowl.
Stir and mash to mix well.

Use a tablespoon of mixture, roll mixture in palms of hands to create meatballs
Place half the meatballs in a glass covered casserole bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.
Remove and cook the other half.

Note: I put the cooked meatballs in a bowl then put the bowl in the frig to cool the meatballs down for a few minutes before I bagged them for the freezer.

Recipe makes about 22 medium to small meatballs.