Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rough winter weather driving produce prices higher...

As we all watch the weather this winter, what a lot of people have failed to realize is the effect these conditions will have on the produce that was being grown in the warm weather climates that recently suffered snow and cold conditions on these crops. 

The damage that was imposed on these crops is beginning to be felt at your local grocers.  Prices are going up and possibly quality of the produce being offered is less than we would normally expect.  Imported tomatoes are more often not as juicy or it is possible they could come in colors we would not normally expect.

You may begin to see veggies unavailable at restaurants as a way to keep prices from getting out of hand.  Here is an article from ABC News that elaborates on the problems that we could expect.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spaghetti Pie

This is aa recipe for a nice meatless meal.  You can add meat to it  if you should desire to add cooked sausage, hamburger, ground turkey, pepperoni or similar.  Be creative.

1 lb pasta - spaghetti or similar
1 container low fat cottage cheese
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
garlic powder

Cook and drain the pasta. Place into a large casserole dish.  Beat the 2 eggs and pour them over the noodles to bind them together during baking.  Spread the cottage cheese over the noodles.  Mix the tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Season to taste with the garlic posder and oregano.  Spread the tomato mixture over the cottage cheese. 

Place into a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  At 30 minutes, place the mozzarella cheese atop the casserole and sprinkle some additional oregano on top.  Continue baking for another 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Remove from the oven and serve in slices like a pie. 

Friday, February 19, 2010


This past week, I had the opportunity to participate in an event at the Copernicus Center in Chicago that was called The Feastival.  The event featured a cooking demonstration by Chef Michael Niksic where he featured a demonstration on how to prepare Drunken Kielbasa. 

1 cup chili sauce
1 cup bourbon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 pounds sliced kielbassa sausage

Mix first three ingredients together. Pour over thinly sliced sausage in casserole dish. Bake at 300 F, 2-3 hr., until slices are glazed and sauce has thickened. Can also be done in a crock pot.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Refried Beans

I have often used canned beans to get quick and easy refried beans.  Over the weekend, I took the opportunity to try to make my own from scratch.  Here is what I did.


1lb pinto beans
1 small can diced chili peppers drained - can use jalapenos or fresh peppers if you prefer
3 cloves diced garlic
1 can chicken broth

Wash and drain the pinto beans.  Put the beans into a pot of water and simmer them until tender stirring occasionally.  When the beans have softened, drain the beans and place back into the pan.  Place the remaining ingredients into the pot and continue to simmer for about an hour to cook down some of the liquid, but do not eliminate all of it.

At the end of the hour, place the mixture into a food processor and pulse them until you have the desired consistency.  Serve and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nachos Grande

Nachos for everyone?  Very easy and something that everyone can enjoy.  These nachos are cooked in a large casserole dish and served with a spoon to smaller portions.


1 bag Nacho Chips
1 lb hot Italian Sausage
Refried Beans
1 lb Shredded Cheese (Mexican blend or Colby Jack work fine)
Jalapeno Slices
sliced olives
Diced Tomatoes
Sour Cream

In a large casserole dish, layer chips, sausage, beans, cheese and jalapenos.  Repeat this with another layer of the same.

Place the dish into a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.  Spoon onto smaller plates and garnish with olives, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, guacamole or whatever other ingredients you might enjoy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pesto - What is it?

Pesto, what is it?  Traditionally pesto is a mixture of crushed basil, pine nuts, olive oil and cheese made with a pestle and mortar.  It may contain garlic or limited other ingredients, but not a lot of variation.

According to Wikipedia, the definition for pesto is a little more broad based.  It says "Pesto is a generic term for anything which is made by pounding and there are various other Pestos, some traditional, some modern."  

While basil is the most typical ingredient used, other ingredients are also used to form the base as well.  Roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes as well as other herbs are often used to make pesto.

We have also seen the way pesto at home has changed as well.  We often see the food processor used as opposed to the more traditional mortar and pestle.  It does not get the same texture, but can quickly create the paste that is desired.

Pesto is most often used to flavor pasta, but don't stop there.  Try it as a flavoring for meats.   Use it as a spread on your favorite breads or crackers.  With the expanded definition, we now are finding expanded uses as well.

Let me know how you use your pesto.