I don’t know what it is about this dish, but I really like it and make it frequently. I’m going to give you the recipe for two servings, so feel free to double or triple, etc. if you are feeding more . . . or a teenager.

  • Ingredients
  • Flour
  • Seasoning (at least salt and pepper, but whatever you like)
  • 2 pork chops (boneless or not, it doesn’t matter)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (I use ancho chile powder if I have it)
  • Water

Flour and season the pork chops. Heat a small skillet and add the oil. Brown the pork chops in oil and cook a little while. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through yet.

While that is happening, open your beans and drain them in a colander. Rinse with water. Drain well and pour into a small bowl. Stir in onion and chile powder.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

If you are using an oven-proof skillet to brown your pork chops, then remove the chops and stir in splash of water, enough to swirl the pan around and stir up the browned bits. Stir in the spiced kidney beans and place the chops on top of the beans.

If you are using a different baking dish, spray it with non-stick spray. Spread the kidney beans evenly across the bottom of the dish. Remove the chops from the skillet and settle them atop the beans. Splash a bit of water in the skillet and stir up the browned bits. Pour the water over the chops and beans.

Place either the skillet or the baking dish into the oven, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the meat reaches a temperature of 145 degrees F. This doesn’t take long because you’ve done much of the cooking already. The beans turn a bit crispy along the edges and are so, so tasty!

Dinner is served! Cheesy Vegetables, Pork Chops with Chili Beans, and Spicy Sweet Potatoes.

This is what happens when the grocery store pickup service makes a noodle substitution. And I’m very happy about it. These are mung bean noodles that go by various names: Saifun or bean threads or glass noodles or cellophane noodles. They are gluten-free. I received two packages and have made lunch three times so far. Please, no scoffing. I will be the first to acknowledge I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do know what I like and I like what I’ve done with these noodles. There are many recipes online for Ants Climbing a Tree and I started with the one at Saveur. The recipe then morphed because I couldn’t get the ingredients called for and that caused me to improvise.

  • Ingredients
  • 4 oz. (approximate) Chinese dried bean thread noodles*
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. Chinese bean sauce or oyster sauce**
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided (I use the low-sodium version)
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Cover noodles with boiling water and let stand for 4 minutes to soften. Drain and stir in sesame oil.

In a 12″ frying pan, heat canola oil and stir fry ground pork until cooked. Stir in ginger and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, another minute or two.

Stir in red pepper flakes, bean or oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then stir in noodles. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and scallions. Serve warm.

Yield: 2 bowls

*I am seeing these sold in bundles and 4 oz. is 2 bundles. The packages I most recently purchased had three bundles, so I used two bundles each time I made this. What surprises me about these noodles is how well they stand up to the cooking process. They’re not mushy after all the softening and simmering. Amazing.

**The recipe calls for NO red pepper flakes and instead Chinese red chile bean paste. But I couldn’t find that. So the first couple times I made this using oyster sauce and red pepper flakes. Delicious. The next time I made this I had found Chinese bean sauce, but it’s not spicy. Oy! So, I kept using the red pepper flakes to spice things up a bit. Still Delicious! So there!

This is what I used as pictured. When I used oyster sauce, the color of the dish was much lighter, but still full of great flavor.

This is a super fast and delicious dish. The recipe started at OneGoodThingByJillee. Hers makes a ton, so I’ve cut it down and changed it slightly. I use Old El Paso brand Stand ‘n Stuff taco shells. There are ten shells in each box. In an 11×7″ baking dish you can fit 8 shells and that makes plenty for three people. They stand up beautifully, so there’s very little finagling. They are gluten-free. If you do not have access to these beauties, you’ll have to eyeball things to make it work. Jill has instructions on her site on how to make hard-shells from soft corn tortillas. I did try that one time, but I found it to be too tricky. The very best thing on Jill’s site is her recipe for taco seasoning and I make that ALL the time. I added a triple-recipe below.

  • Baked Taco Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning (or one store-bought envelope)
  • 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup (1/2 of a 15oz. can) refried beans
  • 8 Stand ‘n Stuff taco shells
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican mix cheese
  • Toppings of your choice (sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, etc.)

Prepare an 11×7″ baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a frying pan, brown ground beef. Sprinkle with taco seasoning and then stir in tomato sauce and refried beans. Set the taco shells into the dish as pictured. Distribute the ground beef mixture evenly into all the taco shells. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all the shells. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top with your favorite toppings. Voila! Done! Inhale!

  • Triple-Batch Taco Seasoning Ingredients
  • 6 Tbsp. chili powder (I use ancho chili powder)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 3 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. pepper

Mix all together and use 2-3 Tbsp. for each pound of meat. For tacos, I sprinkle it over cooked ground beef, then stir in a little water and cook until the water evaporates. I also use this mix on beef or chicken fajita-makings and other types of meat. I sprinkle it on before or after cooking, it just depends. No rules! This batch should last you a good long while.

I’m craving a grilled cheese sandwich, but have no bread. So . . . this should do the trick. The recipe is out of Suzanne Nightengale’s Electric Bread (1994, Innovative Cooking Enterprises). I first made this bread in October of 1999, back when I had a bread maker. All the recipes in the cookbook are made for electric bread makers, but I no longer have one and therefore do this my own way.

  • Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast (3 tsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. dry milk powder
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 1/2 cup dried onions (FINALLY a use for the Costco-size!)
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. poppy seads
  • 3-1/4 cups bread flour

I use a stand mixer with a dough hook to make raised bread, but I will tell you both ways. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in powdered milk, brown sugar, salt, butter, dried onions, onion powder, pepper, poppy seeds, and 2 cups flour. Once it all comes together, let it mix on low for five minutes. If you are not using a mixer, stir for a long time to build the gluten.

If you’re using the mixer, gradually add flour and mix on low until the dough is no longer tacky or sticky. Use as little flour as possible. If you are not using a mixer, turn the dough onto a floured counter or table and start kneading. Knead until the dough is no longer tacky or sticky.

Grease a bowl and place the dough into it, then turn the dough to grease the top. Cover with cling wrap and let rise until doubled in size.

Prepare a 9×5″ loaf pan by spraying with non-stick spray or greasing. Punch the risen dough down and then shape into a loaf. Place the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Let rise until the loaf top is even with the pan top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until it is a golden color all over and sounds hollow sound when tapped. Remove from oven and let cool for ten minutes. Remove from pan onto a rack. YUM!

The recipe says this bread, when stale, can be turned into some awesome croutons.

Yield: one loaf

I am supposed to be onboard Celebrity Reflection in the middle of the Atlantic headed to Madeira and Ireland right now, but instead I’m at home under quarantine. Sigh. One of the highlights of cruising with Celebrity is the free scoops of gelato associated with our loyalty program. My favorite flavor is pistachio. In memory of this, I found an easy no-churn recipe for pistachio ice cream at Simply Scratch. The flavor is deeply rich and luxurious.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 cup lightly-salted shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Chopped pistachio nuts (optional)

Using a food processor (I used my Cuisinart mini-prep), process pistachios into smooth butter. This takes time, be patient. I had to scrape my bowl many times. I stopped once I saw liquid (oil). It did not turn out as smooth as I would like, but it worked fine.

In a large bowl, mix pistachio butter with sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

In a separate large bowl, whip heavy whipping cream into stiff peaks. I used a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.

Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pistachio mixture until well blended. Remember to fold, not stir. Patience!

If you want pieces of pistachio in your ice cream, or on top of your ice cream, do that now. I like my ice cream smooth, so I didn’t add any extra nuts. Place into a container, cover, and freeze for at least 4 hours. When you’re ready to serve, you may have to let it set out for a bit. Mine was easy to scoop out, I didn’t have to let it sit.

This is SO yummy!

I ate half of this all by myself. Burp. The recipe from my cousin Pam calls for 6 Swai fillets and yields about 10-12 servings as a snack. I cut the recipe and used two fillets. It still makes enough to feed four, or three if one of them eats half of it. Just sayin’. I’m going to list the ingredients, but the amounts are really up to you.

  • Ingredients
  • Swai fillets (I have used other whitefish at different times, still quite tasty)
  • Lime juice
  • Salt
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Cucumbers, diced
  • Jalapenos or serranos (pictured here are jalapenos), diced
  • Red onion, diced
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Avocado, diced
  • Tortilla chips

Slice the fish into tidbits, about 1/2″ pieces. Place into a large bowl and cover with lime juice. This time I used bottled lime juice, but I’ve also squeezed fresh — takes a lot of limes! Make sure there is enough lime juice to cover the fish. Sprinkle generously with salt (for 2 Swai fillets I used about 1/2 Tbsp. salt). Cover the bowl and let stand refrigerated for an hour (longer is fine).

Chop remaining ingredients, except avocado and chips, and stir into the fish mix. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Cover and let stand refrigerated for an hour (longer is fine).

Just before serving, stir in the avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.

This recipe is based upon one found in my recipe Bible: Sunset Breads (Lane Publishing, Menlo Park, CA 1986). The recipe is marked with the notation that I first made it on January 16, 1991 and that it was delicious. Nothing has changed. It is delicious. As I was saying the other day, we are in the midst of the great 2020 Pandemic and finding yeast has been a challenge. My husband found out that it was a difficulty, called his wine-making supply store, and voila, he had envelopes of brewer’s yeast within the hour. The envelopes seem the same size as active dry yeast, so I used one package. It worked just fine. There’s no funny taste, it’s just like normal.

I recently read an article where the author talked about the shopping uncertainty that’s plaguing us now. One never knows if what you order will be available. I want to be clear that I understand that having food, at all, is a great blessing. And I don’t take that for granted. I simply want to acknowledge that menu planning has changed in significant ways. I finally laid hands on rice yesterday. Rice. Anyway, I ordered beets last week and I got the biggest beets I’ve ever seen. Yesterday I roasted them. I pickled some with eggs, see the recipe here. I decided to make this vegetable bread with some more, but the recipe makes two loaves and I didn’t want both of them to be beet bread, so I roasted a small butternut squash and used that for the other loaf. We don’t eat a lot of carbs, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all this bread. It is DELICIOUS!

  • Ingredients
  • 1 package active dry yeast (I used 1 package of brewer’s yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 5-1/2 cups bread flour, approximate
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked vegetable puree, warm*

I made this in my stand mixer using the dough hook. Dissolve yeast in warm water and stir in sugar. Let stand about fifteen minutes until it’s frothy. Stir in milk, butter, egg, salt, nutmeg and 3 cups flour. Mix until it all comes together. If you are making two different kinds of bread, then it’s at this point you remove half the dough and set it aside. To the first half-batch, knead in 3/4 cup of the lightest color vegetable puree. Once it is well-blended, set the mixer on low speed for 5-6 minutes to build the gluten. Then gradually add flour until the dough is smooth and satiny, using as little flour as possible. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn it so as to grease the top. Cover with cling wrap. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour and a half.

Prepare pans by greasing or spraying with non-stick spray. Shape dough into 2 loaves. I used 9×5″ loaf pans because I wanted the uniformity for sandwiches. I’m not real great with free-form loaves, but you do what you want. Let rise in a warm place until nearly double, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If you went the free-form route, make 1/2″ deep slashes across the tops of your loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. I let my loaves stand for ten minutes, then removed them from the pans to a cooling rack.

*What you see pictured here is one loaf of butternut squash bread and one loaf of beet bread. The recipe says you can try carrot, potato, spinach (1.5# yields 3/4 cup), or tomato (6 oz. can tomato paste). It also says you can add different spices depending upon the vegetable that you use. Just make sure that you’ve either mashed your cooked vegetable or run it through a food processor, something like that.

This is a riff on the traditional British dessert, the Banoffee Pie, which I’ve never seen or eaten. The recipe comes from Food52. I was casting about for something to do with the 2 bananas I had on-hand before they got too soft and were only good for bread. This dessert has a strong banana flavor and is super yummy.

  • Crust Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Prepare a 9″ square pan by fitting with parchment paper that hangs over the edges so that you can pull the dessert out of the pan when it’s time to serve it. Spray the paper with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour and salt. Mix until the dough comes together in large chunks. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the crust with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes or until it’s a golden brown color. Let cool while you make the filling.

  • Filling and Topping Ingredients
  • 10 Tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (160 grams)
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt together butter and brown sugar. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens (about five minutes).

Spread the banana slices evenly over the cooled crust. Pour the warm caramel mixture over the bananas and smooth the top with a spatula. Chill for at least an hour.

Melt the chocolate chips (I used a microwave a few seconds at a time, stirring after each few seconds) and spread over the chilled caramel layer.

Chill until ready to serve. Remove from pan and cut into pieces. Serve.

So the name is a bit of a misnomer as this is not really “twice-baked,” but it is twice-cooked. You all are probably sick of the cauliflower dishes, but we really did cut potatoes and rice and bread and pasta out of our diet a few years ago . . . until the pandemic. Now I’ve gained 7 pounds (and rising) because of the reintroduction of “carbs.” Sigh.

I was playing a little game whose goal was to successfully acquire yeast to make bread. I mean, who could ever have imagined a run on yeast? Yes, during a pandemic that has happened. My husband won the game (which has been going on unbeknownst to him for over a month) by calling his wine-supply store this morning and asking if he could use brewer’s yeast for bread. No problem. He now has a look like he’s smarter than anyone — it was so easy. I just don’t think he understood the rules. Anyway, we will see how bread turns out using brewer’s yeast in a few days.

This cauliflower recipe comes from Kalyn’s Kitchen. I’ve made it so often that I no longer follow the recipe. We use this dish in place of mashed potatoes. We really like gravy and sauces, so this is what underlies that. Today I’m making a pot roast, without potatoes, and the rich mushroom gravy will be poured liberally over the top of this cauliflower dish.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • Salt
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 3-4 slices crisp bacon, crumbled
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 2-3 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1/3 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook the cauliflower in little bit of salted water, covered, just to fork tender. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and strain off the water. Make sure the cauliflower is still in the saucepan. Use a potato masher to mash the cauliflower. Cut up the cream cheese into pieces and sprinkle over the cauliflower, still in the saucepan. Put on the lid and let it sit until the cream cheese is really softened. Add bacon, green onions, sour cream, Parmesan, and pepper. Stir until well mixed.

Prepare a baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray. Mine is about 1-quart size. Place the cauliflower mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. Serve as a side dish or with gravy over the top. Yummy!

I use the basic recipe found at NellieBellie.com. I usually make less than NellieBellie does, so bear in mind the picture might show less. I especially like to serve this with barbecue ribs or hamburgers. It’s touted as being very low-carb and gluten-free. This is a recipe I just eye-ball for quantities, so feel free to do that, too. It’s very forgiving.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 6 oz. crumbled crisp bacon
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (optional: 1/2 mayo and 1/2 Greek yogurt)
  • 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard (optional: Dijon or spicy brown)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Paprika, optional

Cook the cauliflower to fork tender. Careful not to overcook it. I boil it in a small amount of water so that it’s basically steamed, but however you do it will be fine. Strain off the water and let it cool.

Set one egg aside. Dice 4 of the eggs. In a large bowl put cauliflower, 4 diced eggs, diced red onion, frozen peas, and crumbled bacon. In a small bowl mix together mayonnaise (or mayo/yogurt combo), mustard, and salt/pepper to make dressing. Pour dressing over vegetable mix and stir gently, albeit thoroughly. Place the salad into a serving dish.

Cut the fifth egg into quarters and place decoratively on top of the salad. Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Chill. Serve chilled. Yield 6 servings as a side dish.