We discovered roasting vegetables about three years ago.  Now when I buy broccoli or cauliflower, they are almost always served roasted.  Even my kids who  "don't prefer"  (the PC term at our table) broccoli, like it roasted. 

 Roasted Cauliflower and Chicken    - serves 6-8
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups cooked chicken 

Preheat oven to 475, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position about 20 minutes.  Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, then sprinkle with salt.  Roast about 20 minutes, stirring once about after about 15 minutes.  Cauliflower is done when parts of it turn a deep golden brown.  Stir in the chicken .

 We ate this with rice and chicken gravy (see below) on the side; conveniently enough, it also takes about the same amount of time to cook.  If you start the rice first, then cut up the cauliflower, the rice should be done about the same time if you're using regular white rice and cooking on a stove top.

Since I didn't have any leftover chicken,  I put 1 lb of chicken in my pressure cooker along with two medium-small onions (or use one med-large) and about 1/2 tsp. salt.  My pressure cooker does not lose water when it cooks, so I didn't add any.  (If your pressure cooker does, please add water!  Probably 1/2 cup, as the chicken and onions release moisture as they cook.)  It was done after 15 minutes of high pressure. 

Clear Chicken Gravy
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup juices from cooking the chicken and onion

(microwave instructions)  
In a  1-cup glass measuring cup, stir together the water and cornstarch until smooth.  Stir in a little of the cooking juices, then stir in enough that you have 1 cup total.  Microwave for 1 minute; stir.  If it hasn't thickened yet, microwave another minute and stir again.  Add salt if needed.  (Mine didn't need it.)

 
 
Curry is becoming known as a  bit of a superfood.  The spice blend's famous color is from one of its ingredients, turmeric.  Turmeric is now known to reduce inflammation- brain, systemic, and joints.  Here's a great way to use up some leftovers in a flavorful, healthy way!
Curry has an affinity for sweet, so it mixes perfectly with sweet potatoes or yams.

When I was in college, I lived in the cheapest off-campus apartment around.  There were several foreign students in the complex, and one day we had a potluck dinner together.  
One of the first foods on the table was an amazingly yellow... something.  So I asked what it was.  "Curry," she responded, "It's a food from Korea.". 
Further down the table was another bowl of yellow food.  I asked about it.  "Chicken Curry," she explained, "The Jamaicans invented it."  
Another friend walked up with a now-familiar color.  I asked. 
"Curry.  It's from Africa."

It was good.  All three were.  Good enough I could see why everybody claimed it was from their own native country.

Since my roommate was the Jamaican, that's whose recipe I got, though I had to watch her make it and estimate the amounts at the time.  This recipe is based on hers, though she used bone-in chicken thighs, less onion but added a couple green onions,  potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, and serve it not only over rice, but also with thick, chewy 'Jamaican Dumplings'.  The recipe is flexible.

Curry.  From America.

Sweet Potato Curry with Turkey- makes about 6 cups

2 Tbsp. oil
1-2 Tbsp. curry
2 medium onions, sliced into rings
1 c. cooked turkey, cubed (can use chicken instead)
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed*
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4- 1/2 tsp. pepper, to taste
water

*I used raw sweet potatoes, but feel free to use cooked ones- you can even get away with using leftover Thanksgiving baked sweet potatoes as long as they're not too saccharine; reduce cooking time accordingly.

Heat oil on medium-high heat until shimmering-hot.  Add the curry powder- amount depends on how strong you like it.  (I like it strong.)  Stir, and let it heat for about a minute to 'bloom' the flavor.  It's done when it starts to smell delicious and a little toasty. DON'T burn it.  (Nasty, bitter flavor!...)  Reduce heat to medium, add onion; cook until they are tender, stirring occasionally.  
Stir in turkey, then add sweet potatoes, salt, and pepper.  Add water until the food is nearly covered.  Put a lid on the pan and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until just tender.  Remove lid, increase heat and gently boil until liquid is reduced by about half.  

Serve hot by itself or over rice.

Optional:sprinkle with any of the following:
chopped peanuts
green peas
mandarin orange segments
shredded coconut
diced apple
dollop of sour cream or unsweetened yogurt
chopped hardboiled eggs
bits of dried fruit

 
 
Can you tell it's zucchini and tomato season?  I've wondered before why so many recipes combine those two vegetables.  I now suspect that it's partly because the plain zucchini excels at tasting like whatever you cook it with, and very few things can top a fresh garden tomato in the flavor department.  This recipe also uses any mellow white fish, probably for the same reason.  The other ingredients both perk up and round out the flavor.  This one's a keeper.

Baked Fish and Vegetables

4 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest or 2-3 drops lemon essential oil
1 lb. zucchini or summer squash,sliced 1/4" thick
1 lb. tomatoes (3 medium), sliced thin, OR cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. minced fresh basil or 1 drop basil oil
salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. mild white fish 
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar*

Preheat oven to 450 F and move an oven rack to the lowest position.  Mix together the butter, minced garlic, lemon juice, and zest.  If using basil oil, add it to this mixture.  Rub a little of the butter mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.

Put the zucchini slices in the bottom of the 9x13 pan; add the tomatoes in a second layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and with half of the basil (unless you used basil oil).  Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then place the fish on top of the tomatoes.  Dot the butter over the top, add the rest of the basil, and drizzle with the vinegar*.  Cover tightly with foil; bake about 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes when you twist a fork in it.  Serve immediately.

Serve over rice to pasta to soak up the delicious sauce!

*The original recipe, from America's Test Kitchen, calls for 1/4 cup dry white wine.  I don't cook with wine, so the white balsamic is what I found in my pantry to add the savory flavor.  Since it's strong, I used only half as much (2 Tbsp. instead of 1/4 c.).  If you have neither, chicken broth and a splash of soy sauce would give a similar depth.
 
 
Swiss Steak was made, in the beginning, to be a budget-friendly main course.  You take a cheap steak, pound flour and seasonings into it, and braise with tomatoes and onions until the tougher cut becomes tender.


Cheap steak is still pretty expensive in my book.

Hamburger is cheaper, and results in something that tastes just as delicious, even if the texture is different than having a solid piece of meat.  That's OK with me.  I was a little doubtful about the 'tomato gravy' when I first saw the recipe, but it is superb!  
The original recipe came from America's Test Kitchen, but I've modified it a few ways...


Swiss Steak with Tomato Gravy
Serves 8

2 lbs. ground beef or 8 (4 oz) patties
salt and pepper
1 onion, sliced thin
1 Tbsp. cornstarch or flour
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes OR one quart home-canned tomatoes (OR one can diced tomatoes and one can of chicken broth)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme OR 1 1/2 tsp. fresh OR 1 tiny drop thyme essential oil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh or dried parsley
Cooked rice or noodles

Set an oven rack to the highest position and turn on the broiler.  Shape burger into 8 patties (if they're not shaped already); set them on a rimmed baking sheet or in a 9x13 pan.  Set onions on the baking sheet too.  Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper.  Broil patties and onions for 2-4 minutes or until they have a good browned crust at least around the edges.  Turn off broiler and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, put the cornstarch in a medium saucepan and stir in about 2 Tbsp of the juice from the canned tomatoes.  Stir until smooth, then gradually stir in the remaining tomatoes, plus broth if using it.  Add garlic and thyme.  Stir over high heat until it comes to a boil.  

After the meat has come out of the oven, add the parsley and pour the tomato gravy over top.  Return it all to the oven and bake 20 minutes or until done and tender. 
Serve over rice or noodles, spooning sauce over.
 
 
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Rice and more...

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Barbecue Sauce.  Make it quickly using tomato sauce as the main ingredient.

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White Sauce- simple to make, and the base for several recipes.

Main Dishes card 3  Recipes for pureed (any)vegetable soup, simple pasta sauce (starting with a can of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce, rice- basics, fried rice, Spanish rice, and rice pudding (which is breakfast food around here).

Main Dishes card 4 covers how to roast meat, methods of tenderizing it, simple soup, and white sauce with instructions to make it thin, medium, and thick.  Includes options for making it gluten-free.

 
 
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Tiny Spicy Chicken is great over rice, with a little fruit to help balance out the heat.   Bok choy is great on the side.

Do you have children or grandchildren who are afraid of what’s lurking under their beds?  Here’s the perfect solution, found on Meridian magazine online a couple months ago:


The Monster Under the Bed
"I overheard my two young adult sons talking.  One asked, “Do kids really think there are monsters under their beds?”  The other one answered: 'I never did.  There was always so much food storage under there that I knew there was no room for a monster.'”


 So let's all chase out those monsters!  For a lot of suggestions on storing food when you have little space, see the Food Storage Made Easy page.

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This recipe came from a class at the Macey’s in Logan, back when I lived there.  “Tiny Spicy Chicken” was one of the entrees at Mandarin Gardens, a local Chinese restaurant.  Maybe it’s a Cache Valley specialty, because I haven’t run into anyone not  from there who has had this dish. 

 

Tiny Spicy Chicken

3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1 ½ “ cubes
garlic salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup cornstarch
¼ c. oil

            Sprinkle chicken with garlic salt, let sit for 1 hour in the fridge.  Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Dip chicken into eggs, then roll or shake in a bag with cornstarch.  Brown chicken pieces in the oil, until golden brown.  Put in a greased 9x13 pan.

Shortcut method: use 1- 1 ½ lbs. fully cooked chicken nuggets, frozen is OK.  (Don't use 3 lbs nuggets; they have too much breading that soaks up this sauce.)

 Sauce:
½ -1  tsp. chili paste*

1 c. sugar
½  c. ketchup
2 tsp. soy sauce
Dash of salt
½  c. chicken broth
¼  c. brown sugar
½ c. vinegar

 Sauce will be very runny.  Pour over chicken (if using chicken nuggets, mix the sauce in the 9x13 pan, then add the chicken) and stir to coat.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time.  Serve over rice.

Alternate cooking methods: bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, stirring a couple times, or put in a crockpot and cook on low for 5-8 hours.

*Sambal chili paste can be found in the Asian section at Macey's grocery store, it probably can be found at most other grocery stores.  If you don't have it, or can't find it, substitute red pepper flakes.  Start with 1/4 tsp., put it in the sauce, then taste to see if it's as hot/mild as you like.
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Chili paste is made from whole, hot chilies, ground up, and mixed with a little vinegar.  It includes the seeds, so it packs a punch.

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If you use raw chicken breasts, the recipe takes about 1 1/2 hours to make.  If you start with these, you can have it done in 20 minutes.

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Aren't cans and oxygen packets great?  I opened this can just yesterday.  And yes, 6-21-93 was when it was sealed.

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The chicken, coated with sauce, ready to bake.

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Baking it condenses the sauce and helps it soak into the coating on the chicken.  It's a little sweet, and a little zippy.