Italian Meat Loaf & Mexican Meatball Soup for One or Two People

These recipes make for 2 dinners for two with maybe some leftover lunch or 2 dinners for one with 2 lunches (I love leftovers for one lunch, just not any more than that) or you can freeze half of each of them and thaw them out when you don’t want to cook. You can make one recipe one night and the other the next without worrying about anything going bad on you. I like using the Ro-Tel canned tomatoes with chilies and onions because I get 3 flavors out of one can. This way you use a pound of ground beef since it usually comes packaged in a pound and a can of tomatoes and chilies and get several meals without having more ingredients than you can use.

Italian Meatloaf

1/2 pound ground beef

1 egg

1 ½ slices fresh bread crumbs

½ can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies

Small can chopped black olives

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon pepper

 Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn the mixture into a loaf pan. Bake about 30 to 45 minutes until the top is a rich brown color and no red juice runs out when pricked in the center

 Mexican Meatball Soup

1/2 pound ground beef

1 egg

½ slice fresh bread crumbs

1/3 cup corn meal

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon cumin

½ can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies

1 can beef broth

1 teaspoon chili powder

Crispy tortilla bits

 

Mix ground beef with egg, bread, corn meal, salt, pepper and cumin and form into small meatballs. In a saucepan add the half can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies, beef broth and chili powder and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs and cook for about 30 minutes. I like to serve this soup with some crisp tortillas or tortilla chips crunched on top.

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Scallops with Garlic, Mushrooms & Parmesan

I developed this recipe for a bachelor friend of mine who loves Coquille St. Jacques but he wanted something simple to prepare that he couldn’t ruin so I came up with this version of the dish. It has all of the classic flavors and is very simple to prepare. I like the hot Spanish paprika but you can use regular paprika if you don’t like the hot.

 

2 tablespoons butter

½ pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves minced garlic

1 pound bay scallops

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon hot paprika

½ teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 ounces brandy

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup half-and-half

1 cup Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Melt butter in a skillet and add mushrooms and cook until them until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it has evaporated, about 5 minutes, and then add the green onions and after a minute pour the mushrooms and onions onto a plate, there should be virtually no liquid remaining. Add the olive oil to the pan and season the scallops with salt, pepper and paprika and when the oil is hot add the scallops along with the garlic  and cook for a few minutes on each side. Place them on the same plate as the mushrooms. Add the brandy and lemon juice and reduce for a couple minutes and then sprinkle the flour over the liquid and whisk it into the oil and juices so that the sauce thickens but incorporates the flour with no lumps. Add half and half and cheese and simmer while stirring constantly, remove from heat when sauce thickens. Add the mushrooms and scallops back to the pan.  Pour over fresh cooked pasta right now. If you want the more traditional dish you can sprinkle a half of a cup of bread crumbs over the top and put under the broiler for about five minutes, until the bread crumbs become brown and crispy.

Servings: 4

 

The Esoteric Cookbook is Just for me!

I have spent three months writing a cookbook for myself, my family and friends and it has been fun “having” to make all of my recipes to make sure I have them written down right so other people can make them. I have the habit, as most good cooks do, of making it up as I go along or changing things up because I grew up developing my palette in the art of being able to taste recipes as I read them. So frequently I read a recipe and I know before I cook it that it needs to be changed but most of the people who ask for my recipes want them written down exactly as they should be made because if they could do what I do they wouldn’t have asked for the recipe. So it was important that the recipes be written exactly like they needed to be cooked to taste like the dish the person cooking is expecting. So I “had” to write the recipe and print it out and make like I didn’t know how to cook it and then I “had” to serve the finished dish to friends and myself to make sure it tasted like it was supposed to taste. I did have to amend several of the recipes I had written because of how much I had adlibbed changes in them over the 40 years I have been cooking. The main reason I wanted to do this cookbook is that I have so many cookbooks, loose recipes cut out of newspapers and magazines as well as a large card file with hand written and typed recipes (back in the days when we didn’t have personal computers) that I needed to consolidate the clutter and get rid of the thousands of recipes that I am never going to cook. I went through every cookbook, and there was about 40 of them, and went to the dog eared and bookmarked recipe of two that I at least sort followed at one time so I could pare my cookbook collection down to just a few sentimental favorites like the Doubleday Cookbook my mother gave me when I moved into my first place away from home. It is still to this day the only all around cookbook that I like, every recipe in it that I have tried is good and pretty much every standard recipe no matter what the cuisine is in it. I don’t recall any of the recipes that I have tried from it ever not tasting or working like it was supposed to. Another one of my favorite ones is not exactly a cookbook, though it has a lot of recipes in it, and it is called “The Von Welanetz Guide to Ethnic Ingredients” and my mother gave it to me as well. She gave to me for Christmas in 1988 according to the inscription she wrote in it. I loved cooking with all the spices in the world and had started exploring the cuisines of other countries and I asked for a book that would give me information on what people in other countries cook and eat and what spices they use and that exactly what this book tells you. I liked it because since I already didn’t really follow recipes it was perfect because to cook a cuisine you just need to know what kinds of ingredients and spices are available that is how to create the authenticity of the country whose food you are trying to find out about. I went through the hundreds of loose recipes and threw out all but the ones I had already tried because if I haven’t used them after having them for over 10 years chances are I never will and I really am trying to get rid of most of the things I have been collecting so long that are just taking up space and getting dusty. I wanted my cookbook to have my most favorite recipes, in their altered states if they came from a printed one, in one cookbook to last me into my senile years (joke I hope) when I can no longer remember what I am doing.  A lot of recipes that I have altered are a conglomeration of several recipes I used to look up in several of my cookbooks and that I would make one  recipe that contained the elements I like from the other ones and I also frequently add ingredients that I think should have been included in the recipe. My carrot cake started out that way, I found a recipe in an old “New York Times” cookbook for something called carrot bread that had wonderful ingredients but it wasn’t a cake so I took a simple carrot cake recipe and loaded it up with every single ingredient I had ever had in a carrot cake. Then I started making doubled amounts of the cream cheese frosting and I added some orange extract one time and lemon another time and then I got so many rave reviews over those that I started putting some of each of them in the frosting every time and I can’t tell you how times I got asked for the recipe. My fried chicken started out like my mother taught me, salt and pepper, shaken with flour and fried on one side with the lid on it, flipped over and fried on the other side with the lid off so the skin gets crispy. Take it out and set it on paper towels while you make the gravy. It was good but I liked the spices they used to use on Kentucky Fried but it was way too greasy so I started making my own secret spice recipe, actually it wasn’t a secret I just opened the cupboard and added a bit of every spice I thought would go together with chicken and eventually came up with a combination of 13 that everyone really liked and asked me what they were. I also like to keep some bacon grease around to use with oil to fry the chicken it, you really can tell in the flavor as well as it seems to get crispier I think and if it isn’t crispier it sure tastes great! I decided to call my cookbook the Esoteric Cookbook since it is made of the recipes that mean the most to my taste buds or if I was stuck on a deserted island I could be happy if these were all the foods I would ever get to eat. I included 350 recipes and that should be enough to last me the rest of my life along with all of the things I never use a recipe for. I have posted 66 of them here, I only got feedback that I screwed one of them up – I didn’t copy the instructions for some cookies I posted early and someone wanted to cook them but all there was listed were the ingredients. It actually turned out it was a problem with the software I bought to help me organize the recipes and it had not saved the instructions for several recipes but fortunately because of my posting the cookie recipe I got to fix the program before I got too many recipes typed in that weren’t getting saved so I didn’t have to reenter very many of them. I have really had fun going through the recipes but I had to make sure and eat before I did because reading all those recipes and imagining how they tasted sure did make me hungry! I wonder if you can gain weight eating food in your mind? I sure hope not.

Camp Breakfast

What I like about this recipe is that if you go on a camping trip all you have to do to change up breakfast every morning is to change the sausage from regular, Italian, turkey, chopped or ground ham or chorizo and change the cheese from Cheddar, to Provolone, Jack, Swiss or Pepper Jack and you have 5 different one skillet breakfasts and when you are out camping and with several people this is an easy way to go. There is nothing wrong with cooking this at home either! Usually the potatoes we use for this recipe are ones we wrap in foil the night before that we let bake in the rocks of the camp fire. We used to have a US Marine issued cast iron frying that was about 24 inches or bigger. It would hold enough sausage and potatoes for the whole camp.

1 1/2 pounds sausage, any kind

6 to 8 potatoes, diced, cooked or raw

1 cup onions, diced

1/2 cup green peppers, diced

6 to 12 eggs

Salt & Pepper

Tabasco or other hot sauce

½ pound grated cheese, any kind

Brown the sausage in a large pan for about 10 minutes and add the onions and peppers. Add the potatoes about halfway through cooking the sausage if they are raw or when the sausage is done if they are cooked. Make indentations in the sausage and potatoes to hold the amount of eggs that you wish to cook and break the eggs onto them and sprinkle with salt, pepper and Tabasco if desired. Spread grated cheese over the top of all after the eggs are in the pan and when the eggs are done serve breakfast to your guests.

3 hour fried chicken with Tyler Florence on GMA, really, why?

I was watching Good Morning America and saw the strangest method for making fried chicken that I have ever seen. I am not going to try it so I can’t say if it is any good or not but since I have had almost all of my friends rave about my fried chicken and call me for the recipe I see no reason to try a recipe that takes 4 times longer than mine and is way messier. The secret to me to perfect fried chicken is a very spicy and crispy skin, it can be done quite simply which is sort of the key to the perfection of it. I use about 13 spices on the chicken before I dust it with only flour and I put it in hot oil and cook on one side without turning it with the lid on it for 20 minutes and then take the lid off and leave it off so that when I turn the chicken over it will get crispy while the second side cooks. It is quick, easy and foolproof. No messy dredging it in buttermilk, which adds more calories and isn’t needed if you use the right spices and make sure the oil is hot when you put the chicken in it. The recipe the guy on GMA cooked called for you to precook the chicken for 2 and a half hours before you dip it in a buttermilk batter and then fry it. Yes you only fry it for 6 minutes but why? You get the same amount of calories in 6 minutes as you do in 40 and you had to heat your whole house up for 2 hours while you unnecessarily baked the chicken to cook it before frying it. Isn’t it kind of silly to make twice cooked cooked chicken? Besides that why would I want to spend 3 hours cooking fried chicken when from start to finish mine only takes an hour and everyone I know thinks it is perfect? I don’t get it I guess. If you ever try this recipe please let me know if it is better than my method which is a lot of people’s method!

Chilies & Cheeses Souffle

1/2 pound jack cheese, grated

1 pound pepper jack cheese, grated

1 pound cheddar cheese, grated

2 cans green chilies, diced

1 tablespoon minced chipotle chilies

¼ cup diced onions

4 eggs, separated

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 can chopped black olives

 

Preheat oven to 325. In a buttered 2 quart casserole dish spread cheeses, chilies and onions. In a bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl mix together egg yolks, milk, flour, salt, pepper and olives. Fold in egg whites and pour this mixture on top of the cheeses and chilies. Gently mix this together with a fork and bake for about an hour, or until soufflé is set and a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.

Curried Seafood Soup

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon peanut oil

¾ cup minced onions

3 cloves minced garlic

1/3 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup diced Anaheim chilies

1/3 cup diced red bell peppers

4 tablespoons flour

6 cups chicken broth

¾ pound bay scallops

¾ pound small shrimp, peeled

¾ pound mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ginger

2 teaspoons curry powder

¼ cup lemon juice

½ cup coconut milk

1 teaspoon red chili oil

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons minced green onions

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

 In a soup kettle heat sesame and peanut oil and sauté onions, garlic, carrots, chilies and peppers for about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and when oil has absorbed the flour add the chicken stock and heat up over medium high heat until stock starts to simmer. Add scallops, shrimp and mushrooms to stock and reduce heat to medium and all the spices and the lemon juice and coconut milk. Continue cooking the soup on medium heat for another 10 minutes. When ready to serve the soup drop the chili oil on top and sprinkle the cilantro, green onions and sesame seeds on top.