Nana’s Potato Salad

Over the weekend, we celebrated my dad’s birthday. We tend to spend our family occasions at home and cook a nice meal. On the odd occasion, we order take out Chinese food (which was always my birthday request growing up). I’ve learned to plan the meal ahead. I’ve got better at timing the things I’m cooking. Each time, the meal seems to come out a little bit better.

Dad’s birthday request was for steak. I got to choose the side dishes. So, I picked up some gorgeous sirloin steaks from The Bauer Butcher, fresh Ontario asparagus from Vincenzo’s (asparagus season is coming to an end soon, so I’m eating as much of this delicious vegetable as possible), and some potatoes for a potato salad. To top it all off, Nana made an amazing confetti cake (dad’s favourite).

BBQ Sirloin Steaks

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Now, would you be surprised if I told you that the highlight of the meal is the potato salad?

You see, it’s my nana’s recipe and a family favourite. Nana has made her family-famous potato salad ever since I can remember… and ever since dad can remember. I have fond memories of spending weekends with Nana as a child and there always being an amazing array of delicious home cooked food. And her potato salad is among my favourites (also check out some of her other recipes that I’ve deconstructed and posted, including Macaroni and Cheese Casserole and Asparagus Soup). As a child I flat out refused to eat potato salad. I claimed I didn’t like it. I especially didn’t like the pre-made potato salads from the grocery store and fast food restaurants (I still don’t really like most of them). However, Nana’s potato salad was the exception. Not only did I eat it, I would go back for seconds.

Steamed Asparagus

The “recipe” is another one that I’ve had to watch time after time to document. The vague directions call for potatoes (it doesn’t say how many), the oil and vinegar dressing is the only thing that is really precise. And that’s as long as you know that the recipe is for 5 servings.

This weekend, I made the salad under Nana’s supervision. The salad was very well received by my family! No complaints. No comparisons. No suggestions for next time. It was just like Nana’s. Hooray! Now I need to make it again without supervision to really put my take on the potato salad to the test.

What makes her salad so much better? So one, she serves it warm. I don’t know why, but this makes a difference in the flavour. Her salad is good as leftovers but is definitely best served and consumed fresh. Like, within an hour of making the salad. It has great sweet and sour flavours in the dressing. It’s smooth with delicious crunch pieces of fresh vegetables. It doesn’t take too much time or effort to make. It just tastes better. (And I don’t think it’s nostalgia making me say this!)

Don’t believe me? Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Nana’s Potato Salad

Adapted from her sister’s recipe

Ingredients

  • 5 large potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups when cubed) – approximate cost $1.75
  • 2 teaspoons sugar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons salad oil (canola or olive oil works well) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, sliced thinly – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 (slightly heaping) cup mayonnaise – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Boil and drain the potatoes.
  2. Allow them to cool until they can be handled.
  3. Peel the potato skin.
    1. If you like the potato skins, skip this step. For my own salad, I would leave the potato skin on. Nana prefers the potato skins removed.
  4. Cut potato into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Combine sugar and vinegar, stirring constantly until dissolved.
  6. Add salad oil to the vinegar and sugar mix.
  7. Pour oil and vinegar mix over hot potatoes.
  8. Allow the potatoes to cool until lukewarm, about room temperature.
  9. Add celery, green pepper, and green onion pieces.
  10. Mix well.
  11. Add pepper and mayonnaise.
  12. Mix thoroughly.
  13. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 5 servings (approximate cost: $0.80 per serving).

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Fluster Buster

Breakfast Mess with Eggs, Sausage, Potatoes and Green Peppers

I’m back! I took a bit of a break from blogging the last few weeks. Life was overwhelmingly busy, so I took a bit of time off. To get some work done. To relax and enjoy what little personal time I had available. To cook, eat well, and take a few new photos to share. I missed blogging. I wondered what the other food bloggers I hear from regularly were up to. I’ll be catching up on that later this week.

What kept me so busy? School, projects, research, work, and a convocation ceremony! On Saturday, I officially received my MA degree. I’m still working on getting pictures. I was so happy to have many friends and family there to support me! I lent my camera to dad, so I have a few pics already.

Nana, Dad and Me at Convocation (Photo Credit to Bryan)

Nana, Dad and Me at Convocation (Photo Credit to Bryan)

I’m hoping that this week I can get back to my usual blogging routine! (Coming soon, a cookbook review!)

Breakfast Mess with Eggs, Sausage, Potatoes and Green Peppers

Ingredients

  • 10 medium red potatoes, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 green peppers, diced – approximate cost $3.00
  • 4 Oktoberfest sausage, casing removed – approximate cost $4.50
  • 8 eggs – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 cup water

Method

  1. Preheat a frying pan (and 1/2 teaspoon of oil) over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  3. Add the Oktoberfest sausage.
  4. Brown the sausage and break into pieces as it cooks.
  5. Whisk eggs and water in a bowl.
  6. Preheat a second frying pan (and 1/2 teaspoon of oil) over medium heat.
  7. Pour egg mixture into the frying pan.
  8. Scramble the eggs.
  9. Add green peppers to the cooked sausage.
  10. Remove scrambled eggs from heat and add to sausage.
  11. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  12. Mix well and serve!

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $1.87 per serving).

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From my cookbook collection: Chicken Jalfrezi

Happy Birthday Bryan (The Official Taste Tester here at The Cook’s Sister)! Today, I’m going to celebrate his birthday by sharing links back to some of his favourite foods that I’ve blogged about and share a new recipe that he was very fond of. Check out some of Bryan’s favourites:

As you can probably tell, he really likes Southwest inspired foods and flavours. But… today I’m going to share a recipe from an Indian food cook book that I received as a birthday gift from my best friend a few years ago.

The book is Cooking School: Indian (ISBN 978-1-4075-6263-6 from Parragon Books). Why do I love this book? All of the recipes are formatted to fit on one page. There are beautiful pictures of the dish on the 2-page fold. The directions are broken down to be simple and clear. And best of all, everything I’ve made from this book has bee delicious, tasting just as good as the Indian food at our local restaurants (sometimes the recipes are a variation of what we’re used to, but always fantastic). I’ve made the Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and now, the chicken jalfrezi.

This book has sat on my shelf for a while. I’ve read through and bookmarked recipes of my favourite dishes at restaurants when I first got it. I’ve thought about giving a few things a try, always dismissing it for one reason or another. It looks too time consuming, I don’t have time to marinate the meat, or I don’t want the apartment to smell like curry for a week were a few of my excuses. So, about a month ago, I finally cracked the cookbook, leafed through the recipes I had bookmarked, and decided on one that I would make.

Afterwards, I contacted the publisher to see if I could share the recipe with you (and, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they said yes!). And so the cooking began. I’m not very familiar with cooking Indian food, so I made a  trip to the grocery store and stuck mostly to the original recipe. I added some yellow pepper for colour and used fresh grape tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes. The result? A yummy chicken jalfrezi!

This recipe is about a medium-spicy dish. If you want to turn up the heat,  add more tumeric, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and garam masala. Similarly, use less of these ingredients if you want the dish to be more mild.

Do you stick to a recipe when making new dishes? Or do you feel comfortable making substitutions?

Chicken Jalfrezi

Recipe from Cooking School: Indian (ISBN 978-1-4075-6263-6, http://www.parragon.com), posted with permission from the publisher

Ingredients

  • 1 pound /9 ounces /500 grams skinless, boneless chicken thighs (or breasts) – approximate cost $4.50
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons ginger paste – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder – approximate cost $0.10
  • 5 1/2 ounces / 150 grams canned chopped tomatoes – approximate cost $1.10
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter pieces – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 small or 1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch / 2.5 centimeter pieces – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala – approximate cost $0.10
  • Indian (naan) bread or cooked basmati rice to serve – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Cut the chicken into  1-inch / 2.5 centimeter cubes and put in a nonmetallic bowl. Add the lemon juice and half the salt and rub well into the chicken. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8-9 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste and cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the oil seperates from the spice paste.
  3. Add the marinated chicken, increase the heat slightly, and cook, stirring, until it changes colour. Add the warm water and bring to a boil, Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in a small saucepan or skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Add the bell peppers, increase the heat to medium, and stir-fry for 2 minutes, the, stir in the garam masala. Fold the bell pepper mixture into the curry. Remove from the heat, and serve immediately with Indian bread or cooked basmati rice.

Makes about 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.80 per serving).

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Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Peppers with Thyme

Sunday, Dad decided to come home from the lake early, so I decided to go home for a family dinner (despite that there were already plans for all of us to get together the next day for Nana’s birthday). Because the plans were a bit last minute, dinner consisted of leftover shepherd’s pie that I had made earlier in the week, a few roasted vegetables, and pumpkin pie that dad picked up on his way home.

As usual, I made too much food. I find it hard to plan dinner for six. However, leftovers are always welcome, they get packed into lunches for the next day. And we usually sneak a treat or two to the dogs (they got a taste of Shepherd’s pie – Rascal loved it, Rebel picked out the carrots).

Roasted Zucchini, Mushrooms, and Peppers with Thyme

Ingredients

  • 1 large spanish onion, diced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.20
  • 800 grams button mushrooms, sliced – approximate cost $3.50
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 green pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 red peppers, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 orange pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced – approximate cost $1.25
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion pieces and cook until softened.
  4. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant.
  5. Remove from heat and transfer to a large baking pan.
  6. Combine onion mixture, mushrooms, zucchini slices, 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme in the baking pan.
  7. Mix well.
  8. Bake vegetables for 7 minutes (or until  they begin to soften).
  9. Remove from oven and add the peppers and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.
  10. Mix well.
  11. Turn the oven temperature to broil.
  12. Return the vegetables to the oven.
  13. Cook for another 5-7 minutes (or until the vegetables begin to brown).
  14. Remove from oven.
  15. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.52 per serving).

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Egg Bake with Potatoes and Mushrooms

Lately, I’ve really enjoyed having a full breakfast. I’m not one to have the same thing for breakfast every day. For a while I was having smoothies. Then I switched to eggs over easy with toast. Then cereal. Recently, I’ve been making egg bakes. I like how I can make a 9×13 pan of eggs and enjoy it for breakfast most of the week. The initial egg bake takes a bit longer than usual to make, but it reheats well in very little time, so it’s a quick and filling breakfast the rest of the week.

The other thing I really like about egg bakes is that you can thrown in almost anything you have on hand. I’ve yet to make a trip to the grocery store for a “missing” ingredient. This recipe is mostly a guideline to help you make your own egg bake. Make any omissions or substitutions you’d like to fit your tastes.

Egg Bake with Potatoes and Mushrooms

Egg bake with potatoes and mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 4-5 medium sized potatoes, diced – approximate cost $1.50
  • 8 eggs – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 cup old cheddar cheese, shredded – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 portabella mushrooms – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 videlia onion, chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 green pepper, chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 clove garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Provence – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

single serving of egg bake with potatoes and mushrooms

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Boil the potatoes for 5-10 minutes, or until tender and drain.
  3. In a frying pan, melt the butter.
  4. Add the onions to the hot butter and cook until onions become translucent.
  5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for about 5 minute (mushrooms begin to soften).
  7. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and salt until well combined.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  9. Arrange the ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish.
    1. Add the potatoes to the bottom layer of the dish.
    2. Top potatoes with the mushroom and onion mixture.
    3. Add the uncooked green pepper pieces.
    4. Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients.
    5. Top with cheese.
  10. Bake for 30-45 minutes (eggs will set).
  11. Remove from over and sprinkle with Herbes de Provence.
  12. Allow the bake to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 servings (approximate cost: $1.06 per serving)

egg bake with mushrooms and potatoes

Day 8: Vegetable

Green pepper in the fruit bowl.

Peppers Stuffed with Leftovers from Thanksgiving

I attended three Thanksgiving dinners this year. I was sent home from each with leftovers of one type or another. Needless to say, turkey and mashed potatoes became less appealing on days 4, 5, and 6. So, I started looking for ways to ensure that we used up out leftovers.

I had an odd assortment of foods: broccoli, carrots, green peppers, stuffed squash, mashed potatoes, maple-glazed sweet potatoes, and of course, turkey. My goal: to use as many of these items as possible while still having a tasty meal. Let’s face it, making everything into one huge casserole just isn’t very appetizing (though I did briefly consider it).

What did I come up with? Green peppers stuffed with a variety of leftovers. It was difficult to take my notions of stuffed peppers and throw those ideas out the window for one evening. Usually I would make stuffed peppers with rice, tomato sauce, maybe some mushrooms and sometimes with meat. However, I held firm to my goal of making the meal entirely from leftovers.

The result? A bit strange, but surprisingly tasty stuffed pepper.

Peppers Stuffed with Leftovers from Thanksgiving

stuffed pepper

Ingredients

  • 2 green peppers– approximate cost $1.00
  • A few pieces of leftover turkey, chopped into small pieces– approximate cost $1.00
  • A few scoops of leftover mashed potatoes– approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small pieces– approximate cost $0.50
  • A handful of leftover broccoli florets, chopped into small pieces– approximate cost $0.50
  • ½ teaspoon of dried sage– approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese– approximate cost $0.25

stuffed pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut the tops off the green peppers and discard the seeds. Place the hollowed out peppers into a baking dish. (Keep the pepper tops!)
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine turkey, carrot pieces, broccoli pieces, mashed potatoes, and sage. Mix thoroughly. Add more mashed potatoes, a spoonful at a time, to the mixture until the ingredients stick together.
  4. Heat the mashed potato mixture in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is warm, but the vegetables are still crisp.
  5. Spoon the mashed potato mixtures into the peppers, pressing the mixture down gently with a spoon.
  6. Sprinkle each pepper with cheddar cheese and place the pepper top back on the pepper (when the cheese melts, it will hold this in place).
  7. Bake peppers for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $1.93 per serving)

stuffed pepper

Garlic-y Peppers with Mushrooms and Pork Patties

On New Year’s Eve, I had dinner with friends. It was a lovely meal similar to the one in this title. The menu consisted of peppers, mushrooms (a vegetable I tend to avoid), celery and garlic sautéed in olive oil, ground chicken patties topped with Asiago and parmesan cheeses, and jasmine rice. Aside from some quesadillas a friend served me last summer, this was one of the few times I ate (and enjoyed) mushrooms. The meal was so delightful that I tried it myself at home the next week. Unfortunately, my local grocery store didn’t have ground chicken in stock, so I modified the original to use ground pork.

Garlicky Peppers and Mushrooms

The vegetables, in my opinion, are what make this meal. When the vegetables are sautéed (but still a bit crispy), they are delicious! The first time I made this dish, I overcooked the peppers. Since then, I’ve learned to prepare this part of the meal last to ensure the vegetables are still a bit crisp when served.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 stalks of celery, rinsed and chopped – approximate cost $1.00
  • 2 peppers (green, yellow, or red), julienned – approximate cost $2.00
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, chopped – approximate cost $1.50
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.40
  • Olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • Salt to taste – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Sautéedthe garlic for about a minute.
  3. Add the celery and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms and peppers (one green pepper and one red pepper) and cook for 3-4 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and add a dash of salt.

Peppers with mushrooms

Pork Patties

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of ground pork – approximate cost $4.00
  • 1 large egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 teaspoons Romano cheese – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the pork, egg, some breadcrumbs and the rosemary into a large bowl and mix with your hands until well blended (start with a small amount of breadcrumbs and add more to the mixture as needed).
  3. Form the mixture into patties and set on a plate.
  4. Pan fry the patties until the outsides are browned.
  5. Move to a baking dish.
  6. Top with your choice of cheeses (hard cheeses such as Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago work well). Try using more than one type of cheese if you’re feeling adventurous.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes (or until cooked through).

Pork patties with rice

Jasmine Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cups water

Method

  1. Cook rice according to directions on package.

Serve pork patties and vegetables on a bed of jasmine rice.

Makes 4 servings (approximate cost: $2.86 per serving).

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