Along with several other passions/hobbies I have developed to keep me amused, cooking is high on my list. So when searching for the perfect RV home for us, a functional kitchen was a must have. And I confess, it was the kitchen in this model which first caught my eye. Although it looks quite large due to my photography skills, it is, in reality, a small portion of my home. It is located in the front quadrant which allows extra space, and is much more stable when changing locations than other rv styles which may locate the kitchen in the middle or back of the unit. Thus there is not a ton of movement in the cupboards or pantry when traveling. And the pantry. Did I mention pantry? Full-size to boot. Holds all the goodies I need to make my magic and a decently stocked bar as well. I tend to cook using the Julia Child method. I always cook with wine, and sometimes I add it to my food.
Fall has arrived here in North Carolina, and my cooking is tending more toward the hearty-style over the meat/vegetable on the fire-grill which is my summer mode of cooking. A recipe, for me, must contain certain elements to make it into the permanent file. I begin with an internet search for something new and tasty. I hastily scribble the ingredients and method onto scrap paper. File it away for next week’s menu. Prepare it according to the directions, modifying to my tastes and bumping up the nutritional value if possible. If it turns out yummy, I neatly write it out on an index card, and into the file it goes. If less than yummy or just ridiculous to prepare, it goes in the circular file. I have had some epic fails!
The elements I judge on: first of all, taste. It has to taste good. I don’t care how healthy the dish is, if it tastes nasty, I am not going to eat it. Example, kale-I have prepared it every way to Sunday, and it still tastes awful to me. There is no kale recipe in the permanent file.
Second, it must be healthy, I am not going to waste money or calories or time spent cooking to create junk food. This is why nature created McDonald’s (I love those fries; on occasion of course.)
Third it must not contain any hard to find or over-pricey items. Frugality is another of my hobbies.
And fourth it must not take a Herculean effort to prepare. I don’t mind spending a decent amount of time to prepare food, but I don’t want to cook Sunday dinner everyday either! So on most recipes, I note the time spent to prepare and cook. Real time, not the fake times they give you in the magazines or online; whatever time they say in the recipe to prep-double it and it will be just about accurate. I spent many years in the food business, and one of my duties was veggie prep. I know my way around a kitchen, and I have yet to find one those timetables to be correct.
So here are a few good fall favorites of mine. Recipes follow at end of post.
My all-time favorite food is mashed potatoes. I love them, my waistline does not. Too carbalicious. So in an effort to still eat my fair share of this divine creation, I make a potato-cauliflower mash, allowing for some of the starchy goodness of the potato for mouth-feel, and adding amazing nutritional value from the cauliflower to boot. Because the cauliflower adds moisture to the dish, no butter or milk is necessary. I do add some parmesan cheese, cause I like the flavor it adds. And please, no peeling of the potatoes! It is a huge waste of time, AND it takes away nearly all the nutrition, leaving one with a straight shot of carbs guaranteed to spike your blood sugar levels.
While the mash is fantastic all on it’s own, resting next to some baked chicken or a meatloaf, it can be downright tasty when included in a hearty main dish. Two of my favorites are Hungarian Beef Goulash and Shepard’s Pie. Make extra, seconds are inevitable.
Another fall specialty of mine is Jambalaya. I prepare mine low-carb (another of my considerations, not that I am a lady of a certain age!) by replacing most of the rice with zucchini. Again the rice is high carb/low nutrition, and using zucchini sends the nutritional value to a whole new level.
And just for fun I am including the Pepper Steak I prepared one evening. I was feeling a bit blue, homesick a little, so I served it with straight brown rice to let those carbs work their soothing magic. I will adjust my workout just a bit more today to burn them off. Weight management is all about balance. Calories/carbs in; Calories/carbs burned. That’s the whole key. Forget all the other nonsense, it just sells magazines. Oh yeah, I am a Certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach, as well as a wanna-be chef and writer.
I hope you find these to your liking. They are all husband-tested and approved!
RECIPES (sorry for the layout, hey I am a creative type, not a computer whiz!)
CAULIFLOWER MASH (for two people): 1/2 hour (times are total prep and cook time)
1/2 head cauliflower cut up/1 large potato or 2 medium diced/garlic clove or two (if you like)/parmesan cheese-boil the first 3 ingredients til soft and mash. Add a bit of butter or milk if you like them thinner.
SHEPARD’S PIE: 1.25 hours (maybe less, I was watching The Golden Girls while creating this yummy recipe)
1 large onion/2 carrots diced/1 lb ground beef/4 cloves garlic chopped/8 oz mushrooms sliced/1/3 cup red wine/3 tbsp tomato paste/1.25 cup chicken broth/1 cup frozen peas/one-half tsp thyme/1 tsp oregano/salt and pepper to taste.
Sauté onions/carrots in 1 tbsp olive oil/add meat and brown/add mushroom and garlic/add wine, stock, tomato paste/stir in herbs/simmer til slightly thickened/pour mixture into baking dish/top with cauliflower mash/cover with foil and bake @ 400 for 20 minutes/remove foil and bake 10 more.
HUNGARIAN BEEF GOULASH: Crockpot recipe 30-45 minutes prep-4 hours in crock pot
1 lb beef (I use whatever is on sale generally chuck-steak) cut while partially frozen into small chunks/2 medium onions sliced/3 garlic cloves chopped/1 bell pepper sliced/2 tbsp smoked paprika (regular will work too)/1 tsp caraway seeds/1 can tomatoes/1.5 cup beef broth.
Sauté beef in 1 tbsp olive oil-place in crockpot/ sauté onions, peppers, garlic-place in crockpot/Add remaining ingredients/cook on high 2 hours-cook on low 2 hrs . Serve over cauliflower mash.
LOW CARB JAMBALAYA: 30-45 min prep/30 cook
2 Andouille sausage cut into half moons/1 cup cooked chicken chopped/1 large onion chopped/6 cloves of garlic chopped/2 green pepper chopped/2 zucchinis diced (no need to peel)/ big can of crushed tomatoes/1 cup chicken broth/2 tbsp Cajun seasoning/1 tsp hot sauce/ .75 cup brown minute rice
Sauté onion and sausage in 1 tbsp olive oil about 10 minutes/add garlic/ mix in peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, seasonings, and broth/bring to boil, reduce to simmer 10 minutes/add rice and chicken/simmer (covered) for 5 minutes/let sit 5 minutes. If still not thickened simmer uncovered to desired consistency (should be pretty thick.)
PEPPER STEAK: 20 min prep/20 min cook/ again save yourself some grief and slice meat while mostly frozen.
1 lb sirloin sliced into strips/8 oz mushrooms sliced/2 peppers sliced (any color)/1 onion sliced/2 cloves garlic/.25 cup soy sauce/.75 cup beef broth/ 1.5 tbsp water/1 tbsp cornstarch.
Stir fry veggies in 1 tbsp olive oil-set aside/stir fry meat (I like to use my dutch oven to stir fry in, no slopping stuff over the side)/add veggies back in/combine soy sauce and broth-add in/combine water and cornstarch-stir in/heat til boiling-simmer til thick/serve over brown rice OR that lovely mash.
Please leave me a reply if there is any questions you have; and if you make any of these happy, healthy recipes please let me know what you think.