Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

Have you ever roasted frozen vegetables? Me neither.  But a quick referral to Dr. Google offers up recipes and instructions for this time and money saving technique. Maybe this method actually works (because everything you read on the internet is TRUTH). So a few weeks ago during a Pandemic Pantry shopping trip I picked up a few one pound bags of frozen cauliflower ( a buck a bag). I also bought a small jar of minced garlic which I promised my younger self I would never use because fresh is better until I used some at my son’s house. Hmmm…..

Here’s the original Roasted Cauliflower with Parmesan post from several years ago. Here’s what’s in the oven right now:

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Parmesan

One package frozen cauliflower (32 ounces)
Extra virgin olive oil
Minced garlic
Dried thyme
Parmesan Cheese
Salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place the florets into a baking/roasting pan with sides.
  3. Spread the pieces into the pan. Make sure they don’t touch each other.
  4. Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil. Toss with a spoon. You want a nice thin coating of oil on each piece.
  5. Lightly salt and pepper, dust with Parmesan and sprinkle with a hint of thyme.
  6. Add two tablespoons of minced garlic. Toss lightly again
  7. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 35-40 minutes. Shake the pan or stir/toss every 10 minutes or so to ensure most of the surfaces of each floret get browned (this is why you want a pan with sides).
  8. When nicely browned add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese over the cauliflower. Roast for an additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl and add more Parmesan.
  10. Eat.

TIPS – The amount of garlic is personal preference and dependent upon how garlicky you like your food and the number of guests at the table. Same for the cheese but you can never have too much cheese or garlic. This dish is not vegan but if you must, leave out the cheese. Don’t forget the shake and/or stir part because when you use minced garlic it can and will burn.

Lessons learned – minced garlic DOES burn but despite appearances did not taste burned at all. Also, one pound of frozen cauliflower is not a lot of cauliflower.

Unfortunately this dish is also Not Tiny Taste Tester Approved.  She was not present for my roasted frozen vegetable experiment.

“Is a Collie Flower a dog?”

Guacamole – Asian Inspired

Xmas 2020

Guttenberg New Jersey is a tiny town on the Hudson River. Guttenberg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guttenberg,_New_Jersey) was where I first tasted Guacamole. I was in my early 20’s and a restaurant on the river named The Lighthouse was reported to have the best Fettuccine Alfredo in the state. So if a restaurant had the best fettuccine I had to go. The night I went the crowd was out the door and everyone was shuffled into the bar so that the business could sell more alcohol while you waited patiently for a table that was probably empty the entire time you were waiting. As I made my way to the bar atop the counter sat a large bowl filled with green stuff.

“What the hell is that?”

The bartender gave me a look like what planet do you live on and said,

“Guacamole.”

“What the hell is Guacamole?”

Realizing I was a true Yankee who lacked any sense of cultural awareness outside of the NY-NJ area his tone softened.

“Avocado dip. You eat it with chips.”

Next to the bowl of green stuff was a bowl of chips. I still didn’t know what Guacamole was because I didn’t know what an avocado was. My educational enhancement options at the time were limited in the pre-Internet, pre-cellphone days and the bartender left to serve someone else who was more likely to spend more money on alcohol. I wasn’t getting enough information to discern what the green stuff actually was. I remember grabbing what I thought was a potato chip, took a dip, and ate Guacamole for the very first time in my life. Funny to think back on this because I recall nothing about the Guacamole. All I remember was the chip.

When the bartender came back hoping I would finally order an beverage I asked,

“What the hell kind of chip is that?”

“Corn.”

And with an attitude of this guy is asking too many questions and wasting my time he went off to serve someone else. Thus ends the story of my first encounter with Guacamole and CORN chips. I wouldn’t have any more such encounters until I moved to Texas and tried Mexican (actually Tex-Mex) food. But this is another story altogether.

BTW I love Guacamole now and I know what a corn chip is.

Asian Inspired Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled
  • 1/2 large lime fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons medium red onion, minced
  • 1 medium sized tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Scoop the avocado into a small mixing bowl.
  2. Squeeze most (but not all) of the lime juice over the fruit.
  3. With a fork or a spoon mash the avocado but leave some small chunks (for chunkiness).
  4. Fold in the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Sample for seasoning and adjust to your taste.
  6. Serve with CORN chips.

Tips

I take a paper towel and gently drain the tomatoes before adding to the fruit. The paper towel will absorb excess juice, pulp, and seeds. This dip is basically the kid version and is very mild. The adult version can be bold. I usually add several dashes of hot sauce. Fresh garlic and jalapeño peppers will also give a nice kick. Remember the most but not all part of the lime juice? If you’re not serving immediately, squeeze some lime juice over the top of the dip (don’t mix in) and stick it in the fridge. This will help delay oxidation. No one likes brown Guacamole.

An Avocado a Day Keeps Your Gut Happy

Avocadoes May Lower LDL

This Guacamole is Daughter-in-law Approved.

Tiny Human Avocado Smash

The Pandemic Pantry – Election Week Update- 11.08.20

Sunday 11/8

To be honest I’ve not paid much attention to the Covid-19 numbers very much for quite some time. Yesterday though, the numbers caught my attention:

Holy Crap Batman!

My initial reaction was shock. But my thoughts quickly came back to food and preparing the pantry for the next lock down.  I’m using this blog to maintain my personal pandemic pantry list and it is not intended to be THE LIST to follow.  (At least I won’t forget where I put my pantry list.) IMO there are several reasons to keep your pantry well stocked:

  • government mandated lock downs.
  • self-imposed periods of sheltering in place either from direct exposure to an infected individual, becoming infected or living with an infected person, rampant uncontrolled viral spread in your community and/or social unrest.
  • Panic buying/hoarding.
  • Supply chain disruptions due to Covid-19 outbreaks at various points in the supply chain and/or panic buying behavior.

We just survived the worst ice storm imaginable and several days without electricity teaches you a thing or two. So I’ve started a list of non-food pantry items which over time will consist of stuff you need to have around when the lights go out. My shopping the past several months included picking up one of this and one of that to build up and back up the pantry. So here’s what the Pandemic Pantry looks like today with the supply on hand in parenthesis. Zero = no backup.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Last Updated 11.08.20

  • Mayo (1) Mustard (0) Salsa (1) Ketchup (0)
  • Pickles (1)
  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed (8)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1)
  • Brown and white sugar (0 and 1)
  • Bay leaves, dried oregano, basil, and parsley (0)
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Salt (1) and black pepper (0)
  • Baking powder, baking soda, corn starch (0)
  • Parmesan cheese (1)
  • Bread crumbs (plain, Panko, seasoned) (1)
  • Dried pastas (10 lbs)
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry (5 lbs)
  • Canned beans such as garbanzos, black, black eye peas, pinto, great northern, navy (10)
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken (3)
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white (6 lbs)
  • Flour and corn tortillas (0)
  • Wheat germ (1)
  • COFFEE ground (0) — K-cups (50ish)
  • COFFEE FILTERS (0) — I suggest owning a single cup drip cone.
  • Tea (120 tea bags all green decaf plus a few normal ones for me)
  • Nuts (1)
  • All purpose and whole wheat flours (or alternative flours if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • Canned tuna (6)
  • Canned green chilies (1)
  • Oats (0)
  • Cornmeal (0)
  • Dried fruits (1)
  • Whole grain and fruit/nut bars (20ish)
  • Dry cereals and granola (0)
  • Crackers (3)
  • Vinegar (red wine, white wine,Balsamic, white Balsamic, apple cider, etc.) (1)
  • Oil (besides EVO, vegetable, avocado, corn, etc.) (3)
  • Peanut butter (2)
  • Jelly and/or fruit spread (1)
  • Glenmorangie 10 and 14 Single Malt Scotch (2)

Non-food Items Paper

  • Paper towels (66 double rolls)
  • Toilet paper (56 double and MEGA rolls)
  • Tissues (16)
  • Napkins (2 small, 2 large packs)

Hopefully you’ll find this list useful. Personally while updating the list I’ve thought of items to add to this list and to my shopping list. Stay safe, stay well.

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?”

img_2073

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

img_2074

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:

img_1967

$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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