The Internet Cookbook: Black Bean, Chicken and Roasted Corn Stew

When I found this recipe, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. So, I was totally blown away when I tasted it and found out just how good this stew really is.  And so easy! There are a lot of “adaptations” of this recipe out there on the web, so a lot of evidently people like it enough to make it their own. 

I added a cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese to the recipe when I made it.  I also reduced the Cilantro to a small amount and just used it for garnish.  I served it with sour cream and tortillas  for a great meal.  My family went wild over the dish and it is one of my new staples!

To try later: I also thought that this might be tasty If I substituted the chicken with cooked pork or cooked shrimp for a change of pace.

The Internet Cookbook: Sweet English Breakfast Porridge

Probably more than any other food, hot breakfast favorites really seem  to trigger memories.  Whether it is simple childhood favorites or newer dishes that speak to a more “adult”  sophisticated palate, we tend to equate breakfast foods with comfort.  This oatmeal recipe from InnCuisine.com is so good, breakfast is definitely a memorable experience!

I prefer steel cut Irish oats to rolled oats and make this in my rice cooker. I use 2 cups water and 2 cups milk to one cup of McCANN’S Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Cook in the rice cooker on the porridge cycle, then follow the recipe as written. One taste and you will never want instant oatmeal again! I now make this once a week (and not always for breakfast!).

The Internet Cookbook: Rice Pudding

I love recipes that you can easily make in the crockpot. While I frequently use the crockpot to make dinner, I often forget how versatile it is for cooking deserts.  This recipe for crockpot rice pudding is not only simple and easy to make, but tastes fantastic! For a special treat, try it served warm with a scoop of homestyle vanilla ice cream. Yummy!

Help Feed the Hungry: Hunger Action Challenge

Okay, I know I tweeted about this already today, but I think that this is such an important issue that I am doing a blog entry as well.  For Hunger Action month, Tyson Foods is asking for help to raise awareness for its Hunger Challenge to benefit the San Francisco Food Bank. The company will donate 100 pounds of food (up to a total of 100,000 pounds) for each tweet and 500 pounds per blog post on the subject.   The Hunger Challenge page has a list of hunger facts and suggested tweets.

While many of the facts listed on the page are specifically about San Francisco and California, unfortunately, the circumstances they describe are by no means unique.  Frighteningly, other states actually rank higher.    The truth is, that while we may be considered one of the richest nations on the earth, people in this country are dealing with hunger everyday.

There are so many other issues that make this situation worse: inflation, joblessness, under employment and homelessness.   Local food banks are seeing a huge increase in people coming to them for help because of the economy.  Many of the new people seeking services are middle class Americans.

If these statistics scare you like they do me, please do something.   Find a way to participate.  There are endless opportunities: I have seen local libraries hold food drives near the holidays where canned goods are accepted in leiu of fines for overdue books.  The United Sates Post Office has two food drives a year and the mail carriers will pick up your donation at your door. Find out who funds the food pantries: many are funded at least in part by local United Way charities which you may already be contributing to.  If your church or community group participates in a program, please get involved.

Look up the statistics on hunger in your community and find out where your local food pantries are.   If you can afford it, donate cash or food. Take the time to give the gift of yourself and volunteer at the food pantry-volunteers are desperately needed.

This is an important issue.  If my tweeting or blogging about this will help feed some hungry people in San Francisco, there is no way that I can let that opportunity pass by.  And truthfully, neither should you.  Tweet or blog, it is an easy, simple thing to do.   And if you can do something else to help please do, because every bit makes a difference. 

Hunger and homelessness are two of the greatest problems our society faces today.  Both of them are solvable if we are all part of the solution.

Just a few of the many links for even more information:

http://www.secondharvest.org/

http://foodpantries.org/

http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx

http://thefoodpantry.org/

The Internet Cookbook – Five Favorites

 As someone who loves to cook, one of the things I like most about the Internet is the fact that you can find literally millions of recipes online.  Many of my “go to” recipes, the one I like to cook frequently, are recipes that originally came from the Internet.  I especially love Italian food and my favorites list leans heavily in that direction.

All the recipes have short ingredient lists, are relatively simple to make and most can be prepared in around 30 minutes.

1. Shrimp and pasta are at the lop of my list.  I keep frozen shrimp in the freezer, and, simply by adding bread and salad, can quickly put together a great meal.  This recipe for Shrimp Linguine with Lemon Oil by Giada De Laurentis tastes fantastic and takes less than half an hour to prepare!     A similar recipe is Rachael Ray’s Baby Shrimp and Angel Hair  which also tastes great and is a wonderful alternative to add variety.  

2. For a quick vegetarian meal, this recipe for Lemon Spinach with Feta is perfect and so simple to make.  I like to serve it as a sandwich on hand-made, no-pocket pita bread.  The lemon and feta cheese give the spinach a taste that is reminiscent of Swiss chard and not at all bitter.

3. If you are looking for a satisfying meat and potatoes meal, try the classic English pub food dish, Bangers and Mash.  I don’t indulge too often because of the calories, but it is a tasty treat! You can shave some calories by substituting  turkey sausage  for the beef ones or boiling smoked sausage instead of frying.   

4.  Crostini al Tonno e Pomodori sounds really impressive.  In plain English, it’s tuna and tomato on toast.  In either language, it is so tasty!  Most versions of this dish call for pricey imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil.  Substitute water packed tuna and light mayo in the recipe for a lower cost and a lower calorie count.  No Italian bread on hand?  No worries. You can substitute anything from biscuits to whole grain mini sub rolls and it turns out well.  For a special treat, melted mozzarella makes a perfect topping.

5. Pasta alla Checca (pronounced KAH-kuh) is a classic Italian dish for the summer.   Another meatless recipe, the dish is incredibly light because it doesn’t have a heavy sauce like marinara or alfredo.  The dish can be made with spaghettini or angel hair or you can use regular (not whole grain) spaghetti.  You can easily vary the ingredients depending on what you have on hand.

I have made The Internet Cookbook a separate category as I am always searching for new recipes and I will post any new favorites I discover.

Just for Photo Lovers: Food!

I was out browsing food blogs for new recipes when I was totally distracted by the most amazing food photos I have ever seen. The blog belongs to writer Michael Ruhlman and the photos belong to his wife, Donna. I haven’t had a chance to read the blog yet, but I will definitely be back to do so.

I have a weakness for black and white photography and Donna uses the medium like a master. Sheer eye candy!

You can find the photos at http://blog.ruhlman.com/ruhlmancom/food-photography/.

Philly Meatball Sandwiches

One of my favorite quick versions of a classic sandwich.

Difficulty level: Easy
Total Time: Less than 30 minutes

1 pkg cooked meatballs
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
4 French or Hoagie Rolls
4 oz. shredded mozzerella cheese*

In a large skillet, saute onion and green pepper in oil. Meanwhile, heat meatballs in microwave until hot.  When vegetables are almost tender, add meatballs to skillet.  Spread cheese over mixture and cover.  Heat for 2 minutes, then let stand until cheese melts. Serve on Rolls.

*You can substitute cheese whiz for a more authentic Philly if desired.