Pasta with Bacon Mushroom Cheese Sauce

This is such as easy dish to make on a Sunday because it will keep wonderfully in the fridge and can be used as leftovers for the rest of the week. I didn’t have fresh mushrooms but I had dehydrated sliced mushrooms from my quick sale purchases. I grabbed two handfuls of the dehydrated ‘shrooms, (yeah, precise I know) I put them in hot water and let them hydrate for at least an hour.

  • 8 ozs Bacon, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion, diced
  • 4 ozs sliced Mushrooms, white button or Baby Bellas
  • 1 sweet Bell Pepper, diced, use red, yellow or orange
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced or peeled and pressed
  • 1 tsp dried Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • One 16 oz package of Spaghetti, break in half when it goes into the boiling water
  • 2 tbsp unsalted Butter
  • 2 tbsp of All Purpose Flour or Wondra
  • 2 cups of reserved Pasta water
  • ½ cup Half and Half
  • 8 ozs of grated Cheese that melts easily ( I had 4 ozs of Colby Jack, 2 ozs of crumbled Blue Cheese and about 4 ozs of Garlic Dill Feta left over from a cheese board)
  • ½ cup dry White Wine

In a heavy cast iron skillet, cook bacon, onion and bell pepper over medium heat until the bacon is crispy about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. Turn off heat. In a large soup pot cook pasta. Cook about two minutes less than package directions. The pasta will finish cooking with the residual heat from the cheese sauce. Drain, but keep two cups of the pasta water. Put pasta in a large bowl.

Using the soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When melted whisk in  the flour. Whisk until smooth. This is actually making a blond roux. Whisk in half and half and ½ cup of the pasta water. Simmer and stir until smooth. Add the cheese. Stir until melted. Add the remaining pasta water and stir until smooth. Turn off the heat. Stir in the spaghetti. Mix until the pasta in covered in the cheese sauce.

Reheat the mushroom mixture in the skillet over medium high heat. The mixture should start to sizzle. Heat the mixture for about 3 to 4 minutes but don’t let the mixture burn. Add the dry white wine to deglaze the skillet. It might smoke a little. That’s okay. Stir the wine to deglaze the fond from the bottom of the skillet. Take off the heat. Stir in the mushroom wine mixture into the pasta and cheese sauce. Mix thoroughly making sure the pasta is not clumped together. You can garnish with fresh or dried parsley when serving. Enjoy! 

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Peasant Cooking for Modern Day Home Cooks

Cookbooks from my collection

By peasant cooking I do not mean porridge gruel three times a day. I mean thoughtfully using ingredients to stretch meals. Many home cooks do this instinctually to feed the family.

I am certain that everyone has experienced sticker shock at the grocery store lately. Meat prices across the board have increased. Also fresh produce prices are crazy. My local stores still have mostly stocked shelves. What I have noticed during my grocery and sundries runs are the lack of choice in sizes of various items. While not a food product, I looked for the small three ounce bottle of contact lens solution that I use.  Nope. Nothing. I had to buy the vastly more expensive 12 ounce bottle. That’s enough to last me a whole year. I suppose in the end I saved money. SIGH.

To continue my grocery odyssey. I was blessed with a very productive garden last year. My two deep freezers are stuffed with my own home grown produce.  I do shop quick sales in the meat department so I have meat protein in the freezers. And I want to stretch that meat as far as I can. Several years ago I may have made individual steaks. Now I would forgo the steaks and grind up a couple sirloins to make a large pot of chili. Where I would have one meal for two people, now I have three, four or more  meals per person depending on the amount of other ingredients. I use a grinder attachment for my KitchenAide mixer but I don’t always grind. I also cut meat into chunks or shred the meat after cooking it. It all adds to increase the amount of meat available to feed a crowd. Recently, my meals have been a great New England Clam Chowder and yesterday I made a wonderful spicy Taco Soup. I will post those recipes soon.

I have 160 acres that I call home. I forage, garden and keep chickens right now. Presently I do not hunt but if the SHTF I would to feed us. My chickens live out their natural lives. When they do not continue to lay eggs they just keep on pecking on my property. 

Anyway three books on peasant cooking in my library are “Peasant Cooking of Many Lands” by Coralie Castle, “European Peasant Cookery” and “The Old World Kitchen” by Elizabeth Luard. I also learned peasant cooking from my mom and my Baba (grandmother) in the Northern Blue Mountains of the Northeast.

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Almond Butter, Turmeric and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Way back in the Fall of 2015 I posted a peanut butter dog treat recipe. That is still one of the most viewed posts. It is still a good recipe but I wanted to change it up a little. I am still using the basic ingredients but exchanging and adding a couple of items.

Almond butter takes the place of peanut butter. I am a label reader. I noticed more brands are adding high fructose corn syrup and soy or canola oils. I don’t eat those frankenfoods, so I don’t want to feed them to my dogs. I also added fresh ground black pepper because the pepperdine works synergistically with the curcumin in the turmeric.

  • 2 1/2 cups Oat Flour (grind Regular Oats in a blender or food processor.)
  • 2 Eggs, beaten (I have chickens so I use my fresh eggs)
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin, use 100% pumpkin,  not the pumpkin pie filling if you are using store bought
  • 2 tbsp Almond Butter
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Flaxseed Meal
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh Ground Black Pepper, needs to be fresh ground

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 163 Celsius.

Mix all ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Add a bit of water as necessary to make a workable dough. It will be dry and stiff like a cracker dough. Spread some oat flour on your counter top or cutting board so the dough will not stick. Roll out to about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into size appropriate pieces for your dog. I have an Irish Wolfhound so his pieces would be too big for a mini dog. You can also use seasonal  cookie cutters for a bit of whimsy. The dogs don’t care but I think they are cute.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until hard and dry. Remove from oven, let cool and store in an air tight container.  As for quantity, your mileage will vary. I hope your furry friends enjoy these.

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Mexican Beef and Rice Skillet Casserole

This so easy and quick. I had everything in my pantry when I decided to make this for dinner last night. Earlier in the day  I went to town on grocery and mail run.  I found some quick sale cuts of beef. I used my Kitchen Aide meat grinder attachment  to grind a pound of the beef. I do not buy pre-ground meat from the store. The rest of the cuts went into my deep freeze. For the oil, I use a mixture for four cooking oils, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin sesame oil and avocado oil.  I mix my own Taco seasoning because that nasty gunk from soy ingredients formed in the back of my throat after I ate the store bought packages.

When I add the chopped fresh tomatoes as a garnish I also drizzle a Costa Rican salsa condiment called Lizano salsa/sauce.  It adds just a different and unique taste to the dish. No problem if you don’t have. I recently bought some after I tasted a friend’s Costa Rican rice casserole.  I will have to post that. It is yummy.

  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1 pound Ground Beef, Venison or Bison
  • 1 Red Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1.25 ounces Taco mix or one store bought package
  • 1 cup uncooked Rice (I use a long grain Basmatti)
  • One 15 ounce can of Black Beans, don’t drain the liquid
  • one 10 ounce can of diced Tomatoes and Green chilies, undrained
  • 1 cup Corn, frozen, fresh or canned
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • Salt and fresh ground Pepper to taste
  • Zest and juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh Cilantro Leaves, optional
  • 2 cups shredded Cheese of your choice, Pepper Jack, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • Green Onions sliced
  • drizzle of Lizano Sauce, if you have it

Heat oil over medium high heat in a large heavy cast iron skillet, at least a 12 inch one,  or Dutch Oven.  Add the ground beef and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the taco seasoning and mix to combine.

Stir in rice, beans, canned tomatoes and green chilies, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer until the rice is cooked about 18 minutes. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice.

Top with cheese and cover until it melts. Serve and garnish with chopped fresh tomatoes, green onions and Lizano Sauce.

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Country Style Pork Ribs Braised in Spiced Ginger Beer

I made this dish with a black-eye Pea Salad for New Year’s dinner. The salad is a Carla Hall recipe.  Here in the sort-of South people eat black-eye peas on New Year’s day for luck, health and prosperity.  These pork bites are so easy to make. And bonus, one pot meal. Don’t fret if the country ribs have a lot of fat. It will render out when you brown the pork. The fat will also make the finished product juicy and not tough or dry. I do not cook low fat dishes. I try to follow a low carb meal plan.

  • 3 -4 pounds boneless Country Style Pork Ribs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large Onion, sliced root to tip so they keep their shape while cooking
  • Two 12 ounce bottles Crabbies Orange Spiced Ginger beer
  • tiny Potatoes enough to cover the pork
  •  2 Cutie Oranges, sliced
  • Sea Salt, Kosher or Himalayan and Pepper to taste (I use a 4 color pepper mix I that grind fresh)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Over medium to medium high heat brown the pork in batches in a heavy bottom Dutch Oven. I use an enameled cast iron one.  Don’t crowd the pot so the pieces brown. Season with salt and pepper for each batch.  During the browning process fond will accumulate on the bottom and even sides of the pot. That is great this will be flavor for the finished dish.  Set the browned pork aside in bowl.

Add onions to the dutch oven. Sauté the onions in the remaining pork drippings until translucent about 5 to 7 minutes. More fond will accumulate.  Remove onions from pot and mix with browned pork bites. Turn up the heat for one or two minutes. Stay at the stove because the pot can easily burn if not watched. 

Add one bottle of the ginger beer to deglaze the pot. Scrap the fond from the bottom and the sides of the pot. Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers. Add the second bottle of ginger beer and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add pork and onion mixture to the dutch oven. Cover the mixture with a layer of tiny potatoes. Season to taste. Top the potatoes with the sliced oranges.

Single layer of tiny potatoes
Top with orange slices, cover place in oven

Place the lid on the dutch oven and cook in the oven for 45 minutes. Check the tenderness of the potatoes and pork. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Remove oranges slices to eat or to add to the compost pile. Enjoy!

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Garden Greens and Red Pepper Quiche

Golden Brown and Delicious

This a quick and easy recipe for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even breakfast for dinner. You can use a variety of greens in this quiche. Use what you have on hand.  I had blanched kale and mustard greens in my deep freeze. They are part of my garden harvest.

One deep dish Pie Crust, store bought or homemade

1 Red, Yellow or Orange Pepper, diced

1 medium Onion, diced

10 or 12 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, cut in half

8 to 10 ounces Garden Greens, (baby spinach, kale chard etc)  cut  into chiffonade ribbons

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp Turmeric

6 Eggs (my girls are still producing so I have really fresh eggs)

1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

4 ounces shredded Cheese of your choice, I used extra sharp Cheddar Sea Salt and Pepper to your taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place pie crust in a deep dish pie dish. Dock the bottom of the crust with a fork.

In a heavy bottom skillet, cast iron if you have it, heat a tablespoon of Olive Oil over medium low heat. add red pepper and onions into the pan. Sauté until peppers are soft and onions are translucent. You don’t want to brown them.   Add garlic powder, turmeric, salt and pepper. Add the ribbons of greens in batches and sauté until soft.  Add tomatoes, mix into the greens and remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until smooth and add heavy cream. Season egg mixture to taste.

Add the greens mixture into the pie dish in an even layer. Top with shredded cheese. Pour the egg mixture on top of the cheese. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. The top should be puffed and golden brown. As it cools the top will collapse.

Remove from oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!

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Merry Christmas Dinner 2021

Christmas is just about a week away. I am planning to go shopping in my two deep freezers for the Christmas meal just like I did for Thanksgiving lunch.  Inflation is crazy. I was in town a couple days ago because I needed to go to the feed store. Wow, the creep feed  that I buy for the horses and my chickens has gone up three dollars in six months for a 50 pound bag.  

My menu planning includes a whole roaster chicken ($2.00 quick sale), orange zest cranberry sauce (.99 cent bag of whole cranberries bargain from last Christmas sale), English pea salad (canned peas from the pantry and my own pasture raised chicken eggs), chicken liver pate (a one pound container of livers from my  deep freeze), three pounds of homegrown sweet potatoes ( my harvest was six and a half pounds from one pot. I used half for Thanksgiving.)  and a persimmon pecan pie (foraged native persimmons from my property and quick sale pecans from last Christmas sales).

I thought I was going to pay full price for the two oranges I need for the cranberry sauce, however, I found two oranges on quick sale for .39 cents. YES! Sorry, saving money makes me very happy.  I also found four sleeves of reduced celery for .50 cents each.  Reduced sweet onions priced at .79 cents for two large onions.

I admit I will need to buy some brandy or cognac for the chicken liver pate. I also need a nice bottle of Merlot for mulled wine. Oh and a nice bottle of a dry white for the meal. Only my brother and I will be at the Christmas meal, but that’s okay. It will be nice and quiet.  

I will post all of the recipes in the lead up to Christmas so you can try them.

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Quick Sale Shopping Extravaganza

While this post is not a recipe per se it can help in future cooking, recipe planning and food security.  I say food security because I having been hearing a great deal about food shortages. Now that I am a retired widow and a Senior Citizen on a fixed income (wow, how did that happen? I was just 40 a couple years ago!) I do have to keep a tight hold on my budget.

My once a week trek into town occurred on Tuesday. It was a marathon session because first  I went to the closest small town. It is normally my grocery buying destination, but  then I drove an hour to Atwoods in  McAlester. I needed a certain brand of dog food for my Irish Wolfhound and a certain type of Senior Horse feed for my one of my mares.

 Well, I scored big time in the grocery store in the small town. I found 4 pint containers of white button mushrooms for 39 cent each. These were actually very fresh because  I saw the green grocer put them on the quick sale shelf. I swooped in like an eagle on a fish even before he had them out of his hands!  I just removed them from my dehydrator.  

My next score was six baggies of green onions for 39 cents each. Each bag had 3 to 5 bunches of onions in it. Nice! After I cleaned and sliced them, they filled a gallon freezer bag and a recycled large mayonnaise jar. Those are in my deep freeze.  

Another great find was the reduced bananas. Five pounds for $1.30. I sliced the individual bananas, put each one in a small snack baggie, then put the snack baggies in a quart freezer bag for more protection. Now I will have ripe bananas for quick breads or smoothies.

But wait, there’s more! Three bags of pre-sliced creamy coleslaw. They are dehydrated now and added to my cabbage and coleslaw container. It can be rehydrated in soups or stews. Yum. I also bought numerous flats of reduced beef and pork. These are usually 50% percent cheaper when reduced for quick sale.  I have a grinder for my kitchen mixer so I do grind the cuts into hamburger and freeze them. No pink sludge for me! I usually freeze the pork in the store packaging but I do put that in a freezer bag to protect the taste.  And last but not least, four bags of mixed apples, about three pounds per bag, for $1.00 each. Some of these will be dehydrated and a portion will be used fresh for an apple galette.

In fact, the only item I paid full price for was a two pound bag of carrots. A whopping $1.89. I think I did pretty good.

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Green Tomato Pie

I am giving you a break from zucchini recipes, but not to worry, I still have a few that I have not posted! Just fair warning. LOL! I found this recipe in one of my mom’s cookbooks. It was an American Heritage, circa 1976, cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens. Some of the dishes are a little dated. I would have to bump up the spices in most of them, but I left this one alone, well mostly. I increased the pounds of green tomatoes to give it a more deep dish look and added ground Allspice. And oh yeah halved the amount of sugar. This tastes like a spicy apple pie.

2 ½ pounds Green Tomatoes
½ cup Sugar
4 tablespoons All Purpose Flour or Wondra Flour
1 ½ teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated Lemon Zest
½ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground Allspice
½ teaspoon Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons Butter
Pastry for 2 crust 9 inch pie, homemade or store bought (I cheat and use store bought)
Sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dunk green tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute. Peel and remove core. Cut into ¼ inch slices. In a medium saucepan combine with ¼ cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove slices from liquid and set aside. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, zest, nutmeg, allspice and salt into the liquid in the saucepan. Cook and stir until just boiling. Remove from heat. Add butter. Mix. Gently stir the slices. Cool for 10 minutes. While tomato mix is cooling line the pie plate with one prepared pie crust. Spoon in the tomato mixture. Place top crust over the tomatoes and adjust. Seal, crimp edges, cut slits to allow steam to escape from the baking pie. Sprinkle with additional sugar if wanted. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes.

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Slow Cooker Beef and Bean Chili Stew

Now this recipe is not a gourmet meal, it is ,however very feeling on a cool Autumn day. The beans are canned and the ground beef is browned in a skillet so it only needs about 3 hours on high to be ready for lunch. I have always been a frugal shopper. I can sniff the quick sale items as soon as I enter the store.  LOL.  I recently retired and I really need that skill I honed while I was at my town job. And the price for food has skyrocketed!  The kale is from my garden that is still producing a lot of food. Even though we had the first frost. I have the kale pots under the eave of my porch. The ground beef was a quick sale score (reduced 50%) that was in my deep freezer. I don’t buy ground meat at the store. I try to buy quick sale cuts and grind it into hamburger with my KitchenAid mixer and the grinder attachment. The pint of grape tomatoes was a 29 cent buy a couple of days ago.  This recipe makes a huge amount of stew, 8 to 10 quarts. This stew does freeze very well, so you can portion into servings and have stew in the freezer for a cold Winter’s day.

2 ½ pounds Ground Beef, (you can also ground turkey, venison or chicken) browned in batches in a skillet

1 15.5 oz can Navy Beans

1 15.5 oz can Dark Red Kidney Beans

1 15.5 oz can Pinto Beans

1 15.5 oz can Black Beans

1 15.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes

1 8 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 6 oz can Tomato Paste

1 cup diced Onion

2 ½ cups chiffonade Kale

1 small container Grape Tomatoes

½ cup Brown Sugar

¼ cup Molasses

Salt and Pepper to your taste

Use a large slow cooker 6 or 8 quarts for this recipe. Set on high. Mix all ingredients in the slow cooker. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 3 hours.  Add water if the stew is a little too thick. Pairs well with crusty homemade bread.  Enjoy!

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