Sunday, October 14, 2007

Left over potatoes make a great breakfast

What do you do with your left over roasted potatoes? Use them for breakfast! The other night I make some roasted potatoes to go with some barbecued hamburgers (which were FANTASTIC). Of course I made more then we could use, so the next morning when I was trying to figure out what to make my always hungry 16 year old son I thought of the potatoes.

I took out a frying pan, heated the pan, sliced up three strips of bacon and when the pan was warm enough started to cook the bacon. (I use the already cooked bacon from Costco so I was really just warming up the bacon.)

When the bacon was getting a bit crispy I put the potatoes in the pan and continued to cook until the potatoes were getting warmed through. (The potatoes were already browned, and warming them through made them crispy on the outside again.)

Then I beat up three egg whites and one egg yoke, turned down the temperature of the pan, added the eggs, threw in some shredded low fat Mexican blended cheese, cooked for a bit more and ended up serving my son a breakfast that he loved.

You could add mushrooms to this mix, or if you have some other type of left over meat add that instead of the bacon. This makes a filling breakfast and it is really quick and easy. If you like "spicy" add some hot sauce at the very end.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What is OAMC?

OAMC, (Once A Month Cooking), is a way of cooking a months worth of food over a weekend. There are a number of web sites (and books) that teach you how to shop, cook and freeze your meals using the OAMC method.

Click on a few of the links below to view some of these sites:

  • This site has lots of recipes, directions on how to freeze the food and some very good grocery shopping tips.
Ok, so have I tried OAMC? Not exactly, though I am going to try to set aside enough time on a weekend to experiment with this method.

What I do is to try to cook certain things that I can freeze and reuse at a later time, for example, spaghetti sauce, chili and soup. Last week when I made a Spaghetti Bolognese sauce ( you won't believe how good this sauce is) I doubled the recipe so I would have enough left over sauce for two additional meals.

I froze the left overl sauce so it would be ready for me to pull out and reuse. When I reuse this sauce I will use the sauce in a number of different ways. The first time I served this sauce we had it over spaghetti, the next time I use it I will make a spinach and ricotta cheese manicotti (I will post the recipe for this dish tomorrow). Since I have enough frozen sauce for one more meal I might make a baked Ziti dish (ook for this recipe tomorrow) as a third dish. You get the idea.

When I make chili I freeze the left over and use it in a tamale pie recipe (this recipe will be posted later this week). With the soup I usually use the frozen left overs as a side dish rather then a whole meal.

So, if you want to use your time and left overs efficiently try to double your recipe, serve one portion and then freeze the other portion to use when you don't have the time to cook from scratch.

Hope you like the ideas today!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Did you notice the cool slide show?

If you happen to look over on the side bar you will notice that I have placed a slide show at the top. How did I do that? Well, I have created a whole social network just for people who like to cook on and they have all these cool tools you can use to do things like adding that slide show. If you want to sign up and become a member go to .

You can create your own page on the network, upload your cooking pictures or even a video. And you can also create slide shows and place them on your own blog (like I did here.)

Have you ever wanted to be a "cooking star?" Now you can! Sign up at MyCookingPlace, create your own page, upload your video and let the world see how great a cook you are. Oh, I forgot to tell you that it is really easy to use MyCookingPlace.

Hope you sign up and see you there (and here of course : )

Step by step instructions to make an omelet

A few days ago I wrote a post on how to make an omelet. Today I decided to take step by step pictures to go along with the directions.

The directions are for a bacon, cheese and spinach omelet, pictured below:

I used what I already had in my refrigerator, if you have mushrooms you could add those, if you don't have sharp cheddar, use what you have on hand.

View a slide show of the pictures here, and then go here to see the step by step written directions paired with the pictures.

Let me know what you think of the directions, pictures and of course the recipe.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Freezing left overs

Another easy way to deal with left overs is to freeze them so you can reserve the same meal without having to do anything but reheat.

When freezing your left overs there are a few things you should keep in mind, the most important thing being that freezing food does not mean it "keeps" forever. If possible wrap your food in two layers: first in plastic wrap, and then in foil. Use a permanent marker to label and date your food.

Here are some more tips from BusyCooks:

  • Your freezer temperature should be below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a thermometer to check the temperature.
  • Use microwave safe plastic wrap if you plan to thaw or cook the frozen food in the microwave.
  • Freeze in smaller portions so the food cools faster and thaws faster for best quality.
  • Freeze in thin portions.
  • You can freeze ingredients for a casserole in individual packets (chicken, vegetables, cheese), then place the smaller packets into one large bag. Label well, including thawing and baking instructions, then freeze.
  • Line casserole dishes with heavy duty foil before assembling. Fill casserole, freeze, then remove foil wrapped food and seal in ziplock heavy duty freezer bag. Place in original container to thaw and bake.
  • Remember that freezing will not improve foods, it will just keep them at their original freshness and quality. Freeze only top quality foods.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Breakfast is the meal you don't want to miss

More and more studies are showing that breakfast is a very important meal . So what do you do for breakfast? You can buy frozen things, like pancakes and waffles, egg and sausage sandwich and so on. You can also pour a bowl of cold cereal or zap yourself some microwave oatmeal. Or you can whip up a really nice omelet in almost no time at all.

Cooking first thing in the morning can be hard, but if you prepare a bit the night before you can serve you and your family a wonderful breakfast they can start their day with.

So, what shall we prepare? How about an omelet filled with, what else, leftovers! If you happen to have some potatoes on hand you can also make some hash browns as well.

So, here is a simple omelet recipe that doesn't take much time to cook, and if you do most of the chopping the night before you will be ready to cook in an instant.

Healthy Left Over Breakfast Omelet

If you prepare the night before cooking this omelet will take less then 10 minutes from the time you crack open the eggs.

For each omelete use three egg whites and ONE egg yoke, room temperature
(most of the calories and fat are in the yoke and you won't taste much difference without the extra yokes)


This is where you get creative, use what ever you have on hand. Raid your vegetable bin for: spinach, onion, mushroom, carrot (yes, carrot), avocado, broccoli, almost anything will work. See if you have any left over cooked vegetables, or do you have some frozen vegetables (such as a partial bag, not enough for a meal, but would work for an omelet). Check to see if you have some tomatoes on hand (HINT: NEVER EVER refrigerate your tomatoes and always make sure to get the seeds out by squeezing the cut tomato over a sink).

Chop whatever vegetables you are going to use the night before, if you are going to make more then one omelet you can divide up your vegetables now. At this point you can do one or two things, you can either saute the vegetables in a pan then refrigerate them for the next day or you can use them "raw." Whatever you do just make sure they are in small pieces.

Now, maybe you want a bit of meat in your omelet, again, raid your refrigerator for left overs, I use left over chicken, left over roast beef, and even left over hamburger. I also always have bacon in the freezer (lately we have been buying the precooked bacon at Costco and keeping it in the freezer for easy use). You can even use lunch meat if you like. Dice or chop your meat the night before.

Ok, now we have some vegis, some meat, so what else do we need? Salt and pepper do nicely, you can add more spices if you like, but I usually keep mine to just the salt and pepper.

What else? How about some cheese. I usually use low fat cheese, and have shredded or block cheese in the refrigerator most of the time. You can use cheddar, jack even Parmesan, just make sure it is shredded (again, you can do this the night before).

Ok, now comes the hard part, cooking the omelet (when I get a video camera this will be one o the "how to videos" I will post). The biggest secret to making an omelet isn't that hard!

Use a 5 to 7 inch pan, non stick works the best, but any pan will do.

Beat your eggs until they are nice and frothy (remember, one egg yoke, three egg whites. Save the egg yokes for another recipe). Add the salt and pepper.

Heat your pan over medium low heat and when the pan is hot add a bit of oil (I use a spray bottle designed to be used with oil, really a cool gadget, that is another post : ).

Add your beaten eggs to the pan and take a wooden spoon and gently stir the egg. You want to keep the egg moving so that the liquid keeps going to the bottom of the pan. I usually just take my wooden spoon and squiggle back and forth until the egg is getting fairly set. When it looks the most of the egg is cooked, but the top is still a bit runny, add your filling to ONE side of the omelet. I put the cheese down first, then the meat then the vegetables.

Lower the heat to low and continue cooking for another few minutes. Take a spatula and gently start to go under the omelet on the non filled side, you want to loosen the omelet so you can flip the non filled side to the filled side. Gently flip over the non filled side to cover the filled side.

At this point you only need the cook the omelet for a minute more or so, you want to cook the omelet until it is set but not browned, use your spatula to loosen the omelet from the pan then slide your omelet onto a plate.

Serve with fresh fruit and your family will love you!

Left over spinach ricotta cheese totellini salad

What do you do with that tiny little amount of cooked tortellini you have in the refrigerator? Make a salad for lunch! (If you have a bigger amount of tortellini, make a bigger salad : ) Given that I was hungry and it was also lunch time and I had about a half a cup of cooked tortellini in the refrigerator the following recipe is what I came up with:

Tortellini and Spinach SaladPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

1/2 cup (or what ever amount you have on hand) cooked tortellini (any type, I just happened
to have the spinach ricotta cheese ones left over from Sunday)

Hand full of baby spinach leaves
2 small tomatoes, diced (I used campari tomatoes, really small about the size of a baseball)
Grated carrot
Thinly sliced Red Onion (use as little or much as you like)
Red bell pepper, diced (yes I am still trying to use up the bell pepper)
Slivered almonds
Balsamic Italian Dressing (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients and toss (the spinach will "shrink" so make sure to add a good amount).
Use the dressing sparingly as it is not "low calorie."

Balsamic Italian Salad Dressing
Many years ago Consumer Reports published a recipe for Italian Salad Dressing, and I have yet to find any other recipe that is as good as this one. Over the years I have modified the recipe a bit here and there, but for the most part this is the same recipe as I found years ago.

1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar (you can use red wine vinegar as well)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon dried Basil (use less if you have fresh chopped Basil)
1 teaspoon dried Oregano (see Basil)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 or 2 cloves of Garlic (and no you can't use powdered garlic, garlic salt or any other type of
garlic other then fresh)

Salt and pepper to taste (try to use a pepper and salt mill for the best flavor)

Combine 2 tablespoons of the Balsamic Vinegar with the water, basil, oregano, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well and add the rest of the vinegar. While continuing to stir SLOWLY add the olive oil in a steady stream (this helps to keep the dressing from separating.) This dressing does not need refrigeration and it keeps for at least a week.

Note: I usually use more vinegar to cut down the fat calories, the "traditional" way of making a dressing like this is to use 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 oil (way too much oil for me). Adjust the measurements above to your own taste, I don't measure anything when I am making this, oh, and don't forget to crush the dried herbs in your hand before you add them to the dressing (crushing them releases more of their flavor).

Ok, now I am going to go eat my salad. If you try this recipe let me know what you think.