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It's about food, restaurants, recipes and just plain eating.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

No Matter The Weather Ya Still Gotta Eat!

Summer will be over soon.  I hate it when people say summer is over and it's still not even September.  Summer doesn't really end until the middle of September.  Actually, summer WEATHER doesn't end until sometimes the end of October.  I hate hot weather.  This year has been particularly hot and beastly.

But there is something I like about summer and that's the macaroni & tuna salad my mom used to make.  Don't get me wrong, I understand this is a completely trashy dish but it's also one of those dishes you can make early in the day (or the day before) when it's a little cooler and stick in the fridge so you don't have to heat up the kitchen in the afternoon when it's usually hotter.

My mom used to serve this with little French bread rolls or sometimes, if we were really lucky, potato chips.  We had six kids in our family.  A large bag of potato chips lasted about as long as it took to start opening the bag.  The idea of buying two was not considered.

I like to make this the way my mom did, adding chopped celery and thinly sliced radishes.  The man prefers it without the veg so that's the way I usually make it now.  We had this a couple weeks ago.  I will probably make it again in the next couple days as it is going back up into the 90s AGAIN for the ba-jillionth time this summer.  Make this and if there is a breeze enjoy it on the porch, deck or patio.  Otherwise eat inside with the A/C on, or at least a fan set to "high".

Mom's Trashy Tuna Summer Salad

1 box (1 lb.) shell macaroni (or your favorite shape - I prefer shells)
2 cans tuna - 6 to 7 oz. each
2 - 3 hard cooked eggs
Green pimento stuffed olives, about 1/2 - 1 cup
Mayonnaise, about 1/2 - 1 cup
Fresh or dried herbs (basil, oregano, dill, tarragon, thyme)
salt & pepper
Optional:  minced celery, sliced green onion, sliced radishes, cayenne or red pepper flakes or Tabasco sauce

Cook macaroni per package instructions.  Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water, drain again.
Drain the liquid from the tuna and flake it into a large bowl.
Slice the green olives thinly.
Slice hard cooked eggs into chunks, wedges or slices.
Combine the macaroni with the tuna, herbs, salt and pepper and hot pepper, the minced vegetables and about half the eggs.  Stir in mayonnaise to taste until the salad is as creamy as you wish.  Place in serving bowl and garnish the top with additional egg pieces and a sprinkling of paprika.  Chill thoroughly and serve with potato chips or small rolls & butter. Good with iced tea.

For the two of us I usually use a half box of macaroni and a single can of tuna.  This is usually enough for our supper and for a lunch or two the next day.  Adjust these amounts according to how many people you will be serving.

Quotable quotes; in the category Food Is About As Real As It Gets!

"I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly.  Tuna fish casserole is at least as real as corporate stock."  Barbara G. Harrison, journalist & essayist

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More Easy

Wow!  I just made this up on the spot the other night.  Of course, if you don't have these things in the fridge the answer is still easy - use something else!  I was using stuff up that I had opened a few days before and wanted to use before it had to be tossed.  I love salads made with grape tomatoes and I love slicing them on the diagonal.  They look prettier that way.  The vodka in the dressing is a bonus.

Spur-of-the-moment Tomato Salad

Slice grape or cherry tomatoes in half on the diagonal (they look prettier) until you have about a cup, or until you have enough, or until you have used them all up.

If you have a green onion or two in the fridge, slice them thinly and add to the tomatoes.  Or use a regular onion.  I like to rinse and drain after slicing to rinse off some of the "hot".

If you have half a can of garbanzo beans in the fridge, add a few spoonfuls (or all of them).  If not, add something else like black olives or chunks of feta cheese.

If you have half a jar of marinated artichoke hearts in the fridge, add some or all of them.  If not, add something else like sliced zucchini or cucumber.  Add some (or all) of the marinade too.  If it's not tart enough add a little vinegar or lemon juice (or just add some homemade or bottled vinaigrette).  Add a splash of vodka too.

If you have a bay tree and you have just pruned it (I did) add a few leaves, crushed or sliced.  Don't eat them - they're not basil!  If you don't have any fresh bay leaves add some basil or oregano.

Add a generous grinding of black pepper and a pinch of salt, along with a dash of crushed red pepper flakes.  Chill in the fridge and serve with your sandwich for lunch, or with corn on the cob for supper.

Quotable quotes; in the category If It's Not Balanced What Good Is It?

"Food is an important part of a balanced diet".  Fran Lebowitz

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's So Easy!

I love things that are easy.  I especially love things that are easy AND offer rewards greater than the effort required.  Like simple art projects requiring few steps and minimal supplies, or recipes that call for a few ingredients but taste great.

Some of my favorites are Spinach Dip and Artichoke Dip.  I have blogged about these before at MadKnews but there is no reason not to reprise them here.

My father-in-law loves spinach dip.  I make it with Mrs. Grass vegetable soup mix.  Most recipes seem to call for the Knorr mix but I prefer the Mrs. Grass.  It's made by Wyler's now but it's the same great taste.  The recipe is on the box but here's how I make it.

Thaw a 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach and squeeze out all the water.  Combine the spinach with a cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream (go ahead and use low fat or fat free versions).  Add a package of Mrs. Grass Vegetable Soup mix and a few green onions, sliced very thin.  Stir to combine thoroughly, cover and put it in the fridge over night.  You can serve it in a hollowed out loaf of bread or just put it in a bowl.  I like to cut up bagels (and the bread from the hollowed out loaf) and things like mini pumpernickel bread stix or French bread chunks.

Another favorite is Artichoke dip.  I have seen recipes that include countless ingredients - everything from curry powder to garlic to paprika.  My version has three ingredients.  You won't even have to write it down - don't blink or you'll miss it.

Drain and coarsely chop a 14 oz can of artichoke hearts in brine (not the marinated ones that come in a jar).  Combine with a cup each of mayonnaise and grated Parmesan cheese.  Don't use your expensive cheese here, just get a box of the stuff you ate as a kid.  You don't even have to buy the brand name in the green box, get the cheap store brand.  Spread this mixture in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350f about 25 minutes until brown and bubbly.  Serve this with sliced French bread or wedges of Pita bread.  It's delicious and stupid easy.

Here is my latest creation.  Blueberries have been on sale the last few weeks and I keep buying them and sticking them in the freezer (mother-in-law hint for freezing blueberries; rinse and dry completely then pop them in a plastic container, like the ones you get your take-out won ton oup in, and put a folded piece of paper towel and the lid on top.  They'll last for months in the freezer).

I also had a box of Cranberry bread mix.  Light bulb moment - why not add some blueberries to the Cranberry bread mix?????  Why not indeed!  My mix called for water, oil and eggs.  For some reason milk was required to make the muffin version.  I was out of milk so I opted for the bread version.

Mix according to package directions.  Gently stir in about a half a cup or so of blueberries.  Pour into a bread pan greased according to package directions.  Scatter a few more berries on top and  sprinkle with some granulated or turbinado sugar (Sugar In The Raw) and bake as directed.

That's it!  One extra ingredient, a few minutes prep (takes longer to wash the bowl and spoon) and you have a unique berry bread that will have people begging for the recipe!  Tell them you'll have to ask your Great-Aunt to write it out for you, don't give it away.  I mean, a girl has to have some secrets, right?

Quotable Quotes; in the category What Works For Fame Ought To Work For Dinner!

"I'm an instant star.  Just add water and stir."  David Bowie