Showing posts with label Rosy's Test Kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosy's Test Kitchen. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Cooking in the Time of Coronavirus - Tips, Secrets and Recipes to Get You Through Sheltering in Place (Rosy's Test Kitchen #6)

In this time of the coronavirus and sheltering in place, restaurants are closed and many of us are cooking at home.  I have always liked to cook, but for many of you, maybe not, so I thought I would share some cooking secrets, tips, and unlikely ingredients I have learned about along the way and also share some great recipes. All have been tested in Rosy's Test Kitchen! So get your aprons on and let's begin!

(Note: This was a blog post idea I had started and intended to keep going but, well, I didn't. But now that most of us are stuck at home and doing our own cooking, I thought it would be appropriate to give you another installment.  There were five cooking posts before this one, so if you are interested and also want to try some delicious recipes, I will add the links to the end of this post. In past posts, I have dealt with cooking successes, failures, and conundrums, and put the spotlight on sweets, eggs, soup, salads, sandwiches, and comfort food and shared those recipes).

***First, Cooking Secrets!***

  • Like that old standard comfort food, tuna pasta salad? The secret to a great tuna pasta salad is Italian dressing.  Add that along with the mayo and you will never have a bland tuna pasta salad again.

  • Potato salad? The secret to a tasty potato salad is.... Ranch dressing.

  • If you want to add some zing to your lasagna, add pizza sauce to your marinara sauce (probably would work well with other pasta dishes to too.
  • For really juicy chicken breasts, start the chicken in a cold oven.  Yes, you heard me.  That goes against everything we have been taught but this ensures gradual, even cooking.  Drizzle 6 to 8 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts with oil, season and place in a cold oven set at 450 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes and then check for doneness (165 degrees or when no longer pink inside).  Thanks Better Homes and Gardens magazine!
  • And I would bet you never give anchovies or anchovie paste a second thought. Well, it is an ingredient you might not think of but it adds zip to all kinds of recipes. Cookbook author Alison Roman swears by them. "A good high-quality jar of anchovies will turn on all the lights for you, so to speak." She likes to put them on almost everything from from Caesar salad to slather all over chicken to eating them with potato chips. "Once you start cooking with them, you'll go from cautiously adding one fillet to wrecklessly dumping an entire jar into your next batch of tomato sauce." 

(From "Dining In" by Alison Roman.) 

  • Feta cheese takes cauliflower soup to the next level.  Serve with pomegranate seeds or craisins for a delightful meal. This is my new favorite soup and an easy way to get your cruciferous veggies.

Cauliflower and Feta Soup

In a large pot, heat 2 T. oil over medium heat.  Add 2 pounds of cauliflower florets and 2 gloves garlic.  Cook stirring often for 5 minutes.  Add 4 cups vegetable stock (you can use chicken stock too).  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add 1 1/4 cups feta cheese to the soup and using a blender, puree the soup.  To serve, top with pomegranate seeds (or craisin), mint and drizzle with oil.
(Rachael Ray Magazine December 2010)

You don't have anything else to do while you are sheltering-in-place, so why not give something new a try? That's what cooking is all about - creativity and taking some risks!

***Cooking Tips***

  • For quick fish tacos, use fish sticks!

  • And did you know that you can make chili without having to do any chopping whatsoever?  Well, you can!

No-Chop Chili

Cook a pound of ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat until browned.  Stir in 2 cups water (or any broth you like), 1 1/2 c. frozen corn, 1 c. salsa, 2 T chili powder, 1 T sugar, 2 1/2 t. ground cumin, 1 1/2 t dried oregano, 1/4 t. salt, 1-16 oz. can chili beans, undrained and 1-14.5 can diced tomatoes undrained. Simmer for 25 minutes and voila!  It's chili time!

  • When you are craving a grilled cheese sandwich and you either don't have any butter or your butter is rock hard, use mayonaise!

  • Store butter in a butter bell.  It will stay fresh and always be spreadable.

  • An easy way to reheat cooked rice.  Place it in a plastic bad with a little water, close the bag loosely and microwave it on high for 4 minutes.

For more kitchen tips (1,453 to be exact) as well as emergency substitutions, measuring equivalents and what to do when things go wrong, check out "How to Break an Egg" by the editors, contributors and readers of "Fine Cooking Magazine."  It will be come your cooking bible!

***Some Favorite and Easy Recipes***

  • Did you know that you can make a risotto and not have to stand at the stove stirring and stirring and stirring?  Well, you can.  You can bake it and it still comes out creamy and delicious.

Baked Risotto with Bacon and Peas

4 strips bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 c. chicken broth or water
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. chopped basil plus more for garnish
2-3 T unsalted butter
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces) plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook bacon in an oven proof pot such as a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When cooked, remove from pan and set aside reserving fat.  Add onion to fat and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add rice and stir to coat with bacon fat.  Stir in the wine and cook until it evaporates, 1 minute more.  Stir in broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Cover and bake 20-25 minutes.  Check on it.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed and the rice just cooked.  Stir in the peas and return to the oven uncovered for 5 more minutes.  Remove from oven and stir in the butter and the cheese, season to taste and spoon into bowls adding additional shaved parmesan and garnish with basil.
(O Magazine April 2012)

  • Like Chicken Tenders?  These are the best!

Best-Ever Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders 
(and these are great cold, too) 

For 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders, mix 1 c. panko and 1/2 c. grated parmesan.  In another bowl, mix 1/2 mayo, 1 T. Dijon, 1 1/2 t. finely chopped parsley, 1 t. salt, 1 t. pepper, 1/4 smoked paprika, 1/4 t. garlic powder and 1/4 t. onion powder (feel free to use whatever amounts you like best). Coat tenders in mayo mixture, then roll in the panko mixture.  Place the tenders on a baking sheet fitted with a rack and bake at 425 for about 15 minutes or until done. Yum! (Thank you, Ayesha Curry)!

  • For the best lasagna, try this recipe. 

It's easy, too, because it uses no-cook lasagna noodles. I have never been a big fan of no-cook lasagna noodles, but the key is making the dish ahead and letting it sit in the fridge overnight. The noodles soften in the sauce and they work perfectly and when you wake up in the morning, the lasagna is ready to go in the oven!  Also, note, this recipe includes that pizza sauce secret, but I didn't have any on hand and only had one jar of marinara so I substituted a can of regular tomato sauce. It worked fine, though pizza sauce would add that extra bit of zing. I am also a fan of using cottage cheese instead of ricotta, which you can do.  In this case, I had some ricotta and some leftover cottage cheese so used both. I am very liberal with cheese when making lasagna.  I also used fresh mozzarella instead of the bagged, shredded kind and it was great.  Lasagna is one of those dishes that allows all kinds of substitutions and additions. 

"Make-Ahead Lasagna"

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. hot Italian sausage
2 c. marinara sauce
1 can (15 oz.) pizza sauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 carton (15 oz.) whole-milk ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. dried parsley flakes
1/2 t. pepper
12 no-cook lasagna noodles
4 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook the meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Drain.  Stir in the sauces.  In a bowl, mix the eggs, cheeses, parsley and pepper.  To assemble, put one cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 in. baking dish.  Layer with 4 noodles, half the cheese mixture, 1 cup meat sauce and 1 cup mozzarella.  Repeat layers and top with the remaining noodles, meat sauce and mozzarella.  Refrigerate covered for 8 hours or overnight.  When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Remove the lasagna from the refrigerator while oven heats.  Bake covered for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting
(from "Taste of Home One Pot Favorites")

As promised, here are the links to earlier installments of Rosy's Test Kitchen:

#1 - Cooking Successes and Cooking Conundrums

#2 - Comfort Food

#3 - Soup, Salad and Sandwich

#4 - Sweets

#5 - Eggs

I hope this gives you some cooking inspiration as you shelter in place.

Have fun cooking!

Thanks for Reading!

See you soon!

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