Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Oldie but Goodie

Two nights ago I made a delicious egg fried rice with shrimp in coconut sauce. least it was delicious to my husband and me. My older son, Henry, soldiered through it but admitted he only ate it without complaining so that he could eat dessert. My younger son, Jack, literally swatted his plate across the table like it was some loathsome bug.

Usually after a night like that, I'll serve a dinner that everyone's liked in the past. My no-fail, slam-dunk dinner of this kind is Grandma Pitney's American Chop Suey.

Grandma Pitney was my friend's mother-in-law. This woman had seven kids, so she had to get loads of food on the table that everyone would eat. Every time I make her recipe the whole family shovels it in like there's no tomorrow.

So here it is, your comfort food of the day!

Grandma Pitney's American Chop Suey
1.5-2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
16 oz. short pasta, such as rotini, elbow macaroni, or penne rigate
1-2 14 oz. cans condensed tomato soup
Grated parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. In a very large skillet, cook the beef and onion until the beef is cooked through and the onion is soft. Drain any accumulated fat, then add the cooked pasta. Add tomato soup concentrate until desired consistency is reached. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Family Dinner for Easter

This Easter, I decided to prepare a traditional family meal for my mother, stepfather, husband, and kids. But I didn't go for the roast ham or leg of lamb. This year we had a traditional Korean family meal, bi bim bap.

Basically you serve a bowl of rice with a variety of toppings, with a big ol' fried egg on top. The diners then plop a dollop of chili paste into the bowl then vigorously mix the contents, yielding a big ricey mess. It's great!

I only ever prepare this dish on the weekends, because although it takes minutes to eat it takes hours to prepare due to the many toppings one must prepare. But since I love to cook and since we have an open floor plan in my home so that people can relax on the sofa while I do it, I didn't mind in the least.

For this meal, the toppings included marinated steak; spinach with sesame seeds, rice vinegar, and sesame oil; sautéed mushrooms deglazed with red vinegar; and a cucumber and red pepper salad.

My husband's mother, when told about my plans, declared it "sh*t food." We all declared it "delicious."

Bi bam bap before mixing

Bi bim bap after mixing. Bon appetit!

I made onigiri (Japanese stuffed rice balls) out of the leftovers since Jack had slept through the main event. As you can see, he was delighted with the results:

Ahhhh! This food is the Devil! Take it awaaaaayyyy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Oh, happy day! Last night on the way home from after-school care, Henry asked what was for supper. "Rice and beans," I told him. "Yay!" he replied.

Are you kidding me!?!
"Yay!" All right!

Lately I'd been throwing lots of air balls. Last week I made a corn chowder using Better than Boullion vegetable stock base that was so bad that I threw the entire batch away after I'd muscled down a bowl to prove "how good it was." It wasn't. And two nights ago I made a concoction that can only charitably be described as "loaf." I learned that there is such a thing as stretching a pound of meat too far.

My new favorite cookbook is Cheap. Fast. Good! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Moss. It is a textbook-thick tome detailing all kinds of money-saving, nutritious meals. Oh, did I mention the recipes come together really quickly? Granted, the Loaf recipe came from this book, but it redeemed itself in spades with its rice and beans recipe. I added a couple of Latin American flavorings I had around the house and came up with a keeper. Henry could not shovel it in fast enough. In fact, he had his mouth right next to the plate and was literally shoving the food into it with his spoon.

Jack, on the other hand, is on a one-molecule-only dinner kick and couldn't be troubled to eat anything. Too bad, more for us!

Riding on that success, I tried serving Henry some banana custard I'd made with some bananas that had been on the way out. No deal. Oh well, ya can't win 'em all!

So I guess there is hope after all for getting the kids to eat healthful vegetarian meals. Don't give up!

Rice and Beans
(adapted from
Cheap. Fast. Good! by Beverly Mills and Alicia Moss)

1 c. rice
1 onion, chopped
1 T. vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 c. cooked black beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
1 c. cooked red beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)

1 can chopped tomatoes, with liquid
1 c. frozen corn kernels

1/2 t. salt
1 t. cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1 packet Sazón Goya
1/2 c. Recaito Goya
Grated cheese and salsa for serving

Cook the rice in a steamer or in a pot on the stove with
2 c. water. While rice is cooking, heat a deep skillet over medium high. Add the oil, then the onion. When the onion is softened, add all the other ingredients. Continue cooking until the corn is heated through and the edge is taken off the garlic. Serve the bean mixture over rice in bowls.

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