Monday, June 29, 2015

Letting Kids Control Your Menu

Stuff Your Own Tortillas (photo by Andy Mills)
When I was growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I had almost no say in what the family ate for dinner.  My mother cooked it and served it, and my father, brother and I choked it down.  On Monday nights, if Dad was out at his Kiwanis dinner meeting, my brother Steve and I begged for Chef Boyardee Spaghetti.  It came in a can, and the noodles were as soft as pudding. 

I’m sure my mother obliged us because all she had to do was get out the can opener, dump the spaghetti into a pot and turn on the gas.  We lapped it up and begged for more.  It was the best-tasting dinner we were likely to have in any given week.

Flash forward to Sunday dinner...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 7

Portobello Mushroom Stuffed with Fresh Breadcrumbs
(Photo by Andy Mills)
To use up leftover or stale bread, make fresh breadcrumbs. Pulse the bread in a food processor for a few seconds or crumble by hand. If you don’t need the breadcrumbs right away, freeze them. They will last for several months.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 5

It may seem obvious but, whenever possible, buy the store brand. It's almost always cheaper than the well-known product sitting next to it on the shelf. Little-known fact: the store brand is often made by the more famous label. If you don't like one store's self-branded products, try a different store.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why Doesn’t the Doctor Say, “Take 2 Chocolate Bars and Call Me in the Morning?”

I just heard that scientists are telling people that chocolate is good for them, especially dark chocolate.  At first I thought someone was reading my mind.  Then I realized that nearly everyone I know believes in the healthy power of chocolate.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 6

Cooking with fresh tomatoes automatically makes your dish better—except for one thing. Pesky tomato skins like to stick in your teeth. Tomatoes don’t peel like carrots. Here’s the secret to removing the skin without throwing away half the pulp:

Fill a small pot half full of water and bring it to a boil. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and run them under cold water. Cut out the stem end of each tomato and pull the skin away. It will peel right off.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hey! Can I Have Seconds?

Mississippi Mud Pie (photo by Andy Mills)

That’s a question I like to hear.  Whenever I serve Mississippi Mud Pie, I hear it a lot.  And I can always say YES because this is a dessert that serves a lot of people.

Here are two other reasons to add this recipe to your favorites.  It’s probably the easiest dessert you will ever make, unless you think washing and polishing an apple equals dessert.  To create a Mississippi Mud Pie, all you have to do is make a pie crust out of crushed cookies and fill it with a lot of ice cream.  You can even buy a pre-made graham cracker crust, although it won’t taste as good. My favorite ice cream for this recipe is Denali Extreme Moose Tracks.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mom Money-Saving Tip 4

Don't always stick to your shopping list. Today I spotted 20-ounce packages of ground turkey breast on sale for $2.99, a $3 savings. So instead of buying the chicken breasts I had planned to get for tomorrow’s dinner, I bought a package. I figured I’d make meatballs, add a jar of spaghetti sauce, sprinkle with grated mozzarella cheese and serve meatball sandwiches. I already had the sauce and the cheese at home, so all I needed was a loaf of French bread. When you go shopping, it helps to have a few simple recipes in your head or on your smartphone.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Who Wants Boring for Dinner?

Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad (photo by Andy Mills)
I’ve never approached new things in the normal way.  Take my bowling style.  I have an impressively awkward backhand spin—all because no one ever taught me the right way to bowl.  But in the kitchen an eccentric approach can pay off.  It certainly did yesterday when I pulled out two raw boneless chicken breasts from the fridge and wondered what to do with them.

I could have boiled or baked them and served them plain.  A basic cooked chicken breast is a good diet food.  It’s good for putting on muscle.  It’s also one of the most boring foods on the planet.  Who wants boring for dinner?  Not me.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mom Cooking Tip 5

Lots of recipes call for homemade chicken or vegetable broth, but who has time or inclination to make it? Not me. Canned broths and bouillon cubes have too much salt. I prefer chicken or vegetable base, which comes in jars. Because the flavor is concentrated, you need just a tablespoon or 2.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Are You More Adventurous in the Kitchen Than a Chimpanzee?

Couldn't-Be-Easier Avocado Appetizer
According to a recent study involving scientists from Harvard and Yale, chimpanzees could cook if only they knew how to work a stove.  That gives me hope that everyone can make a meal if they try. 

I do have proof of this concept.  Many years ago Bart agreed to trade places with me for a week.  I would sit at the typewriter and compose wonderful stories while he would care for our two toddlers and cook.