Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers (RIP)

I’ll post the recipe if they taste good.

Update 09.14.20

Well I pulled one off the griddle and tried it. I froze the rest and heated one up for lunch today. It was good…but not great hence the RIP (recipe in progress) tag. I made a sandwich on whole wheat and swirled some Sriracha mayo on it and the burger tasted better than last night. The burger is missing something and we’ll just leave this as a RIP and keep experimenting. Definitely needs more heat. Maybe some corn kernels to balance the heat. I’m also thinking of fresh onion and garlic, not the powders which would make this burger less of a pantry mash up but oh well. Here’s where we stand today.

Update 10.08.20

I ate the last of probably five or six of these “burgers” which were in the freezer. The good news is they freeze well and taste OK. The bad news is they taste just OK so now this recipe is being retired. RIP now stands for Rest in Peace. I’ve decided they are not very “burger-like” and more like sweet potato and black bean cakes with herbs and spices. This is the final update as this recipe goes up on the shelf along with any recipes from The Stack Project – Lasagne Stack Update 04.15.15. The Stack Project contained just one experiment Lasagne Stacks which also were just OK.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers (RIP)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp apiece – dried chives, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, dried cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

I’ll add preparation instructions once I figure out how to make this burger taste better.

Rocky Top Coleslaw – 2020 Update

I can’t remember the last time we finished a large jar of mayonnaise prior to its expiration date.  We don’t use a lot of mayo and most of the time half of the jar gets tossed.

Then Covid-19 happened.  We started eating more mayo.  Tuna salad the way Grandpa Jack made tuna.  Egg salad.  Chicken salad.  And coleslaw.  But many recipes change over time.  This coleslaw is updated for 2020.  Here’s my original Rocky Top Coleslaw which also contains a link to the original inspiration recipe from Bobby Flay.

It’s coleslaw so keep it simple.  Use a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw from the market.  The quantities for the dressing in 2020 have been reduced.  I find the slaw tastes just as good with less dressing (and less calories).

We’ll be grilling some Pandemic Burgers tonight with a little Rocky Top on the side.

Cole Slaw Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
garlic powder (to taste, about a tsp)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon celery salt
Pepper to taste.

  1. Everybody in the pool (large mixing bowl) except for the cabbage.
  2. Whisk until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  3. Add your slaw and mix well.
  4. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Can you visualize a huge scoop of this coleslaw on top of a cold turkey meatloaf sandwich?  Me too but I don’t have any leftover meatloaf.  Guess I’ll have to make Italian Meatloaf or Turkey Meatloaf this week.

 

 

Sloppy Turkey Joes

It’s been four months since Covid-19 changed our lives. For most of us fortunate enough to stay healthy we have adjusted to spending more time at home. More time at home for me has meant more cooking. Breakfast is typically a simple no cook meal. Sometimes I’ll cook lunch. Most nights we’ll sit down to a home cooked meal. But after four months you try not to repeat too many dishes and vow to find/make something different. I’ve bought more cookbooks than I care to admit. I’ve spent a lot of time on food blogs looking for something tasty to try. But despite the plethora of recipes on the planet sometimes you just can’t decide what to make.

“Why don’t you make Sloppy Joes?”

Why do I make life so hard on myself sometimes?

The sheer beauty of a dish like Sloppy Joes is its simplicity. This was one of the first recipes our sons learned how to cook when they were kids. Ground meat, ketchup, mustard, done. The kid recipe came from a cookbook for kids that has long since disappeared from my collection. Any Sloppy Joe recipe is simple, easy to fix, and tasty. It’s the perfect recipe to get your kids on a cooking path.

I haven’t written much on the Pandemic Pantry lately. The stores around me are well stocked and my pantry is well stocked. The trick is to pick up a few things at the store every time you shop as potential pantry items. If you use them during the week great but if not,  just toss them in the pantry or freezer for later use. I always pick up a package of ground turkey when shopping. There was an entire package of onion buns in the freezer (if you don’t freeze your bread you should). I like to have bell peppers in the vegetable drawer and I always have onions.

And there you have it. Turkey Joes. Psychologists say it’s important for people to recall and share memories. Recalling and sharing helps us find meaning and connect with others. I believe I’ve found true meaning and can connect with others by remembering and sharing my Sloppy Joe story. If you’re interested in making the original kid version use ground beef, ketchup, and mustard. Leave the rest of the ingredients out. I’m not kidding.

Inspiration: The Chunky Chef (because her SEO consultant is doing a great job).

Turkey Joes

  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, small dice
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
    several dashes of hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat butter and oil in large skillet over high heat.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper, reduce heat to medium and saute for a few minutes until the vegetables have sweated.
  3. Turn the heat back up to high and add turkey. Break apart into crumbles and saute until the meat is no longer pink. Do not drain the meat/veggie mixture.
  4. Everything else in the pool. Mix well and simmer over low heat for around 15 minutes.
  5. I hope you remembered to defrost some buns.

Makes enough for 4 large or 6 smaller sandwiches if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Update 07.29.20

During a recent conversation with my favorite nephew in the United States I happened to mention the kid cookbook that went missing.  The Boss picked up on my error and was rather quick to correct me.

“Is this the book we don’t have anymore?”

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As a matter of fact yes it is.  Naturally I had to find the Joe recipe.

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So there you have it.  Proof of the original Joe recipe that I used to start the kids on their own lifelong love of cooking.  Next Gen up will make recipes from this cookbook too.

And yet another reason why my wife of way too many years is The Boss.

 

The Pandemic Pantry – Forgotten Items and Disappearing Social Skills – 06.07.20

The shortages at the grocery stores have abated.  And to be honest I’ve gotten lazy at stocking the pantry since I’ve been able to find and buy pretty much most of the items on my list on shopping days.  But with more supply chain disruptions to come in the future,  shortages from sporadic bouts of hoarding behavior and more stress baking I continue to stock my pantry.  And I’ve come to realize I haven’t updated my pantry list in nearly two months.  The tipping point?  I ran out of coffee, a monumental threat to my continued existence.  So I started an add on list of forgotten items.  Added together this comprises the first update to my Pandemic Pantry list in weeks.

One byproduct of sheltering in place I’ve noticed on my shopping trip was the literal disappearance of social skills in some individuals.  Some people have forgotten how to behave in group social settings.  Here’s a short list of my encounters today:

  • Woman in the produce section stopping right in front of me in the middle of the aisle blocking passage while responding to something on her phone.
  • Another woman stopping in the middle of an aisle leaving her cart on one side while she blocked passage standing on the other side of the aisle.
  • Husband and wife having a discussion at the beginning of an aisle blocking access or passage to the aisle completely and…(wait for it)
  • The jackass who squeezed right in front of me as I was reaching for an item to pick something off the shelf for himself.

None of these rude, selfish and inconsiderate people were wearing masks.  None of these shoppers respected social (physical) distancing.  I’m now considering buying a set of scrubs to wear along with my mask when food shopping.  (I’ve heard stories that others will avoid you completely if you’re wearing scrubs.)  It looks like I’ll probably be resorting to shopping during the Old People Hour because I know the oldies will be mask wearers and keep their distance.

 

Sorry for the mini-rant.  But when you have a family member on the healthcare front line all of this matters a lot to me.  Some people understand the pandemic isn’t over.  The good news for the folks I tried not to get too close to today is we have plenty of ICU bed space available in our state.

Anyway, back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down.  By now y’all have probably figured out that I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and is not intended to be The List to follow.  At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 04.18.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour and corn tortillas

The Forgotten Ones

  • COFFEE !!! (consider a small jar of freeze dried also in case of emergency)
  • Tea
  • Nuts
  • All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned green chiles
  • Oats
  • Cornmeal
  • Dried fruits
  • Whole grain and fruit/nut bars
  • Dry cereals and granola
  • Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.)
  • Oil (besides EVO, vegetable, avocado, corn, etc.)
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly and/or fruit spread

 

Americans may wish the virus to be gone, but it is not. While the outbreak has eased in the Northeast, driving down the overall national numbers, cases have only plateaued in the rest of the country, and they appear to be on the rise in recent days in COVID Tracking Project data. Twenty-two states reported 400 or more new cases Friday, and 14 other states and Puerto Rico reported cases in the triple digits. Several states—including Arizona, North Carolina, and California—are now seeing their highest numbers of known cases.

America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic

 

 

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry -Basic Corn and Bean Salad – 04.18.20

The look on my face must have revealed my aching soul. Maybe it was the numerous trips to the pantry or the multiple freezer checks. We had plenty of food to survive on but nothing I really wanted or cared to eat. The truth was I needed to cook. I needed some fresh foods to cook with. Ultimately she relented.

“You can go to the store and shop with the old people. You will wear a mask and keep your distance from everyone else in the store. You will not wander up and down the aisles like you usually do. You will not shower before going. When you come back you will wash your hands for 20 seconds then put the groceries away. Disinfect the items you think need disinfecting. The plastic bags will not be recycled. They will go into the garbage. You will then go into the laundry room where you will strip down and put your clothes into the washing machine. Then and only then you go to our bathroom to decontaminate.”

Senior Time at the grocery store is 7-8:00 AM. There were not many shoppers. The customers were all wearing masks, some had both masks and gloves on. But most of the employees were not wearing any masks or gloves. We know the mask wearing thing is more about not spreading virus if you’re infected and less effective for personal protection (though the latest scientific guidance is that masks do offer some level of personal protection). So is setting a specific time for a high risk group to shop at the same time and NOT have employees wear masks smart? It would take just one infected worker and s(he) could take out a number of the oldies. Just a thought. But everyone in the store respected each other’s space and kept their appropriate physical distance.

We began sheltering in place behavior one week before our state formally declared a shutdown. Minus two days in Owasso, Oklahoma (the trip was taken with the expectation a lock down would be ordered) we have been home for a month. Welcome to The Pandemic Greater Depression. At our home we are fortunate to both have jobs. Many, many others are not as fortunate and the road ahead will be hard. Despite the fact we have a roof over our heads and food on the table the new era Depression mentality has set in. I call the new mindset Forced Frugality.   The grocery store trip was interesting.  Some of the supply chain issues are resolved and the shelves look better.  Still no paper products and some of the shortages (like frozen pizza) are just plain strange.  There were arrows on the floor in an attempt to direct traffic.  I learned that some people don’t know how to follow arrows.  And despite clear instructions not to wander the aisles I pretty much went down every aisle because you never know what you’re going to find (or not find).  I found this:

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$0.59 for organic dark red kidney beans and $0.84 for organic corn!

Today’s lunch side was a simple corn and bean salad.  Here it is.

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 celery rib, tiny dice
  • 1/4 cup red onion, tiny dice
  • garlic powder
  • pinch or two dried basil
  • a splash of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can organic dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder and basil in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Adjust your seasonings.  Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add your vegetables and beans.  Stir and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add a splash of fresh lemon juice.
  5. Serve as a side dish or over some fresh greens.  This size recipe makes around four servings.

Tips

Sugar is only needed to counteract the acidity in the dressing.  You might not need nor want any sugar at all.  I wanted to put some red bell pepper into this dish but there were none to be found at the store.

Here’s a list of pantry items.  Hopefully you have many if not all on hand as we shelter in place.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Updated 04.18.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour tortillas and corn tortillas

Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

And if you do venture out of the house wear a mask.

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The Pandemic Pantry -Lentil Soup

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She Who Must Be Obeyed reminded me again this morning of her Executive Order.  Last night’s dinner was a UFO (unidentified frozen object) that thankfully turned out to be chili.  And with some leftover cornbread from the freezer I was once again in compliance with the order to “clean out the freezer”.   A part of her Executive Order limits me to one grocery trip a week (with a mask, disinfectant wipes, and one store only).  This week’s trip was a calculated gamble on one of those tiny grocery sections housed within a burger/ice cream joint whose name will not be divulged for fear of possible legal action after they hear about this post.

Bad gamble.  I managed to find just five of the nearly 20 items on my list.  I did find some fresh spinach that wasn’t on the list.  A tiny win but I’ll take it.  This is going to be a tough week.  Less fresh foods and a heavier reliance upon pantry items and any remaining UFO’s.

I sauntered into my pantry multiple times and opened the freezer multiple times before I figured out what to make for lunch.  My flash of inspiration came from the jars of beans on the kitchen counter.  I had completely forgotten about the lentils.

Until today.  Here’s my Lentil Soup recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 very large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • garlic powder
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water and 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (approximate)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, lower the heat to medium and saute the carrot, onion and celery until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle thyme and garlic powder over the vegetables in the pan and saute briefly.
  3. Add lentils and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Drop the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils need more liquid.  Add one cup water and continue to simmer.
  5. Check and stir frequently.  Add either more water or broth to suit your taste.
  6. Adjust your seasonings.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Simmer for a total time of around one hour and 10 minutes.
  8. Serves four.
  9. Or two if you eat half, save the rest for another meal and eat sandwiches/tacos using leftover fillings from the freezer

Tips

Over time I’ve learned how important technique can be for turning out tasty food.  Note the chicken broth is used first, then water.  For a cup of dried lentils you will need about a quart of liquid.  I start with chicken broth (you can sub vegetable broth) and allow the lentils to absorb the broth, then add one cup of water.  The amount of additional liquid will depend upon your personal preferences.  My approach is to add additional broth slowly after the 2 cups broth, one cup water.  Most times I never approach a full quart of liquid.  I like my lentil soup thick.

That half of a fresh onion didn’t sit around long because I made Pete’s Fried Rice without any broccoli.  Instead of broccoli I used half of a green cabbage sliced into strips.  The fried rice turned out just fine.  You have to be flexible nowadays and don’t waste anything.

Here’s my updated list of pantry items.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Updated 04.06.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour tortillas

Stay safe, stay well.

I think I bought too many bay leaves though.

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The Pandemic Pantry – Basic Quick Tomato Sauce

 

“We’re cleaning out the freezer.  We have plenty of leftovers to eat up.”

…said She Who Must Be Obeyed.  Since this Executive Order was issued the frozen stockpile of meals has been gradually dwindling.  Last night’s dinner was a mash up meal that used some leftover frozen ricotta/chicken/spinach filling and a freshly made Alfredo sauce.  The leftover ricotta filling was the result of making far too much for cannelloni a few weeks ago.  Then last night I made too much Farfalle and now I’m staring at the reality of having leftover leftovers for lunch today.

So I thought to myself, Self…wouldn’t this be good with some tomato sauce?  Of course I answered to myself and went to an old favorite cookbook for inspiration.  My quick tomato sauce is inspired by a recipe from:

Cooking from an Italian Garden Paperback –
by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen

Paperback: 372 pages
Publisher: Harvest Books (November 15, 1985)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0156225921
ISBN-13: 978-0156225922

But as I have discovered over the years I’ve accidentally created my own recipe.  Here it is.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, tiny dice
  • 1 small carrot, tiny dice
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch dried basil
  • pinch dried parsley
  • a splash of white wine
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can organic stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, lower the heat to medium and saute the carrot and celery until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle the herbs and vegetable powders in the pan and saute briefly.
  3. Add a splash of wine to de-glaze the pan.
  4. Add the tin of tomatoes and bring to a boil.
  5. Drop the heat down to low.
  6. When the tomatoes start to soften begin crushing them with the flat side of a wooden spoon.
  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  8. Adjust your seasonings.  Add sugar.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve over leftover leftovers (freshly made pasta works too).

Tips

Sugar is only needed to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes.  You might not need any sugar at all.  I wanted to use as many pantry items as possible.  If you feel you can spare a fresh onion or fresh clove of garlic, use them.  The wine is a luxury but can probably be eliminated if you don’t have an open bottle in the fridge. Taste as you go because stewed tomatoes are sweeter than plain canned tomatoes and come already seasoned.

Here’s a list of pantry items.  Hopefully you have many if not all on hand as we shelter in place.

Pandemic Pantry Items

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas

Stay safe, stay well.

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower Frittata

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Sometimes you have odds and ends in the fridge.   This was the inspiration for Scraps Frittata which in the end turned out fine.  The other night at a bring a dish dinner I was asked to bring some Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan for a side veggie.  Our gracious host well known for his blunt honesty said,

“Maybe we shouldn’t have microwaved the cauliflower.  The texture was different.”

I agreed.  The veggie was kind of mushy.  Maybe I shouldn’t have made the cauliflower earlier, covered the dish with aluminum foil, then microwaved it for serving.  This veggie is obviously best served immediately from the oven.

Our host who does not like leftovers besides Good Pie didn’t want the rest of the veggie so I took it back home.  What do you do with about 3 cups of leftover mushy roasted cauliflower? 

  • 2 T EV olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion diced
  • 2 C red potatoes small dice
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan
  • shredded sharp Cheddar cheese about a cup
  • shredded Monterrey Jack cheese about a half cup
  • Parmesan cheese grated, a couple of Tablespoons
  • Dried thyme, healthy pinch
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in an 10 inch non-stick pan.
  2. Add the potatoes and cook until nearly cooked through, about 10-15  minutes medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and saute for five minutes.
  4. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spread the cauliflower over the potato/onion mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the cheeses over the veggies.
  7. Beat the eggs.  Pour over the vegetable mixture.
  8. Preheat your broiler.
  9. Allow the frittata to sit over a very low flame until set.
  10. Place the pan under the broiler to brown the top.
  11. Remove from the broiler and place the frittata on a serving plate.
  12. Serve warm or cold.  Makes about 6 servings.
  13. Yum.