Grandma’s Cracker Cereal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

When I think of favorite family recipes from my childhood, my beloved Grandmother’s cracker cereal is always on the shortlist.

A far tastier alternative to oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and the like, the cereal is great comfort food -- and delightfully easy to make.

*2 cups of milk (skim or regular, either works)
*8-10 saltine crackers
*Cinnamon and sugar to taste

In a pot, crumble up saltine crackers. Add milk and cook on low heat, stirring regularly for about five minutes or until mixture reaches porridge-like consistency. Pour contents in bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

A perfect breakfast!

Chicken And Rice With Lemon, Pepper and Celery

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One of my favorite things about learning to cook is throwing a few kitchen staples together with no muss or fuss. I always keep chicken breasts and white rice at the ready, so it’s fun to try out different ingredients with the two.

After slicing up one chicken breast, I soaked the strips in a bowl of lemon juice. While sautéing them in the pan, I boiled a cup of rice in a pot. Adding the mostly-cooked rice to the chicken, I threw in some chopped celery and sprinkled a teaspoon of ground pepper.

All in all, about twenty minutes from preparation to table. My kind of home cooking!

Simple Sauteed Pork Chops

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I’m a big fan of simple recipes that pack a tasty wallop. So I was especially pleased with what I came up with for pork chops.

My recipe calls for just three ingredients -- olive oil, tomato paste and chopped onions. After mixing together equal parts olive oil and tomato paste in a bowl, I soaked the pork chops in it for a few minutes. Then, on a low heat, I sauteed the pork chops and onions for about 5-7 minutes, drizzling the extra sauce over them.

The result was absolutely delicious. And a happy reminder that you don’t have to consult a cookbook to create something special in the kitchen.

BBQ Mango Tilapia

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When you’re a neophyte chef like me, sometimes even the simplest dishes can be fraught with peril. So I recently discovered when I turned to Hungry Girl’s 200 Under 200 recipe for bbq mango tilapia.

As a big fan of both barbecue and mango, I was beyond excited to try this out. Until I found myself in the fruit section of my neighborhood supermarket in a bit of quandary. What color mango to select? Not realizing that, like bananas (my all-time favorite fruit), green does not equal ripe, I made the wrong choice. Which I discovered as I struggled to slice the stubbornly brittle mango -- and nearly broke a knife in the process.

Hungry Girl’s recipe calls for two teaspoons of brown sugar and one teaspoon of molasses. I faced another dilemma here. Should I modify the ingredients? After all, I’m the amateur and the cookbook is the expert, right?

I opted not to make any changes and, sure enough, found the finished product to be a little too sweet for my taste. Lesson learned -- it’s okay to trust one’s instincts when it comes to making sure a home cooked dish pleases your palette.

Tasty Turkey Burgers

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I’m a big fan of turkey burgers -- they’re an ideal compromise between the indulgence of beef burgers and the often bland alternative of the veggie variety. That said, it takes a little something extra to make a turkey burger truly flavorful.

My personal trick -- packing the patties with sautéed onions and shredded cheese before cooking. A little Worcestershire sauce also adds a little zest.

After preparation, I throw the burgers on my venerable T-Fal healthy grill, a favorite cooking gadget since its purchase 13 years ago. Five minutes on thermostat setting three and presto! Tasty turkey burger done.

Spinach And Mozzarella Cheese Supreme

Monday, April 4, 2011

When I think of casseroles, I automatically think calories -- and complicated. Thanks to a great recipe in Hungry Girl’s 200 Under 200 by Lisa Lillien, I’ve discovered casseroles don’t have to be either.

In keeping with the cookbook’s theme, each serving is less than 200 calories (106 calories for 1/6th of the casserole, to be exact). Apart from defrosting the two bags of frozen spinach required, total prep time is under an hour. Recipe calls for three wedges of light-flavored Laughing Cow cheese, and I went with garlic and herb which added a nice flavor to it. Hungry Girl also says to bake in the oven for only 25 to 30 minutes, but I found the casserole wasn’t quite crispy so I would try 35-40 minutes next time.

I was so excited about making my first casserole that I forgot to pick up one of the recipe’s ingredients -- mushrooms. Definitely still delicious, probably even more so with them. Click here and scroll down for the complete recipe.

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