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Succotash Dinner

I recently read on the Onion.com that 10 million people are killed annually from stepping out of their comfort zones.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen to us last night. 

Of course, we weren’t attempting any harrowing tasks such as cliff diving or swimming with sharks.  Instead, I made my succotash with field peas instead of lima beans.  I know.  Pretty wild.

At any rate, the result was delicious so I wanted to share this divinely simple recipe.  I used field peas because I got them at the farmer’s market on Sunday, which meant I had to shell them.  It’s been a while since I shelled peas and let me tell you, it’s a labor of love.  So, I may continue to use frozen limas from here on, but the point is that no matter what kind of beans you use, succotash is a really easy side dish worth adding to your repertoire.  The secret is fresh corn, which thankfully is in season.

You just have to cut it off the cob first…

Cutting Corn off cob

Then you wash the beans or peas.  (Skip this step if using frozen.)

Field Peas

You’ll need to boil the beans or peas until soft.  Frankly, I’m not positive on time here but I think about 5-10 minutes should do it.  (Just keep tasting them…we’re big “pickers” at our house). 

Then you throw them in a skillet with the corn and drizzle with a little olive oil (as Rachael Ray would say, “two turns of the pan.”) Give it a good stir and saute about 5 minutes or until it tastes right.  This is a picking recipe.

Succotash

That’s it! It’s ready!  I feel like I should tell you to do something else as to not disappoint you on how short this post it.  But that’s why Turbo and I love this side dish – it’s fast.

I guess I could tell you how I served it – over rice, which is optional.  I also made fried okrahot water cornbread and sliced tomatoes.  I added some chopped jalapeno to the cornbread batter because we like a da spice.  Mmm, mmm, mmmm and double mmmm.  In fact, it was so good we forgot there wasn’t any meat on the plate. 

Here’s the recipe…if you even need it.

Succotash

  • Corn
  • Lima beans (or other shell bean)
  • Olive Oil (about 2 Tbsp)

Boil beans in water about 5-10 minutes.  When soft, drain and add to skillet with olive oil.  Cut corn off cob and add to beans.  Saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until corn is thoroughly warmed through.

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Sirloin Tip Roast

The hunk of beef that started it all...

I don’t know if I’m just cheap or poor.  Maybe a little bit of both. 

Either way, my frugality inspired this recipe.  You see, I wanted to do a roast using Turbo’s family recipe.  But a special at the store led me to buy sirloin tip roast.  Buy one get one free…who could resist? 

I got home, cut one of the roasts in half (since there are just two of us) and proceeded with the recipe.  Turbo, the King of Frugality, pointed out my blunder.  Apparently you’re supposed to use rump or round cuts for a proper roast.  Excuse me, I replied, but I was trying to save money and red meat is red meat so I’m sure it will work just fine. 

I was wrong.

The flavor wasn’t bad but it was as tough as shoe leather.  So then I was stuck with these huge hunks of cow and no idea how to cook them.  I scoured my cookbooks.  I consulted mother and mother-in-law.  I searched the Internet.  I was stumped.  I think “sirloin tip roast” is a term my less-than-stellar grocery store made up because Betty Crocker makes no mention of it in her section on red meat. 

Finally, I cobbled together what little I could find on “sirloin tips” and, lo and behold, the result was fantastic!  Cheering and clapping ensued and I took a bow after my husband’s first bite.  Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but it was pretty darn good if I do say so myself.  Best of all, you can use this on just about any cut of beef or pork, particularly those that say “roast.”  So you can take advantage of whatever BOGO offers you might find, questionable titles and all.

You start with the rub, which is basil, oregano, ginger, mustard, black pepper, red pepper, salt and olive oil.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Herb Paste

Line a pan with aluminum foil and place meat in center.  I actually used a cookie sheet with about one-inch sides, but if you were using the whole roast you would need a deeper pan to catch the juices.  

Using your fingers, rub the herb paste on all sides.  It’s kinda fun to get your hands dirty, no? 

Sirloin Roast Before

Remember, this is half a roast.  If you were using the whole enchilada, it would look more like this:

Whole Roast

Now, just cook in a 325 degree oven for 35 minutes (for one pound of meat).  When it’s done, wrap it up in a cute little foil package.  This makes it tender and juicy.

Sirloin Roast wrapped

Notice how pristinely clean the tray is – one less to scrub!  Well actually, none of my cooking implements are pristine, but maybe yours are. 

After a couple of lesuirely sips of wine…oh, I mean, about 15 minutes…unwrap the foil and bask in the glory of your domestic genius.

Sirloin Roast after

Try it tonight.  Hopefully you will enjoy culinary accolades from your household too!

Herb-Rubbed Sirloin Roast (serves 2)

  • 1/2 tsp. of dried basil, dried oregano, ground ginger, ground mustard, black pepper and Kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (or less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Sirloin Tip Roast (approximately 1 pound)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix the first three ingredients in a bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes. 

Place roast in pan lined with aluminum foil.  Using fingers, rub herb paste on all sides of roast.  Cook for about 35 minutes.

Remove from oven and wrap in foil.  Let stand for 10-15 minutes, covered, before slicing.

PantryThere is simply no worse feeling than looking in your pantry or refrigerator after just finding out your child has MSPI.  Suddenly, it seems like you can’t eat anything, and there’s a constant rumble in your tummy because your breastfeeding, which as my friend Jill put it, is like having a treadmill strapped to your chest.  I remember having a mild sense of panic with the slightly irrational thought that I might starve. 

Plus, if you just found out, you have a screaming baby to deal with, so cooking involved meals from scratch isn’t happening.  So, what do you do?  Well, below is a list of pantry and refrigerator staples that are good to stock up on, as well as some meal and snack ideas.

And no, this isn’t my pantry.  I wish it were.  I was too embarrassed to reveal the inner workings of my closet o’ food so I went with this generic photo.

 Staples:
Faux Milk (I prefer almond, but there’s also rice, coconut and all sorts of weird sounding “milk” made from nuts)
Faux Butter (I prefer Best Life buttery spread)
MSPI-friendly bread
Mustard
Ketchup
MSPI-friendly salad dressing
Mayo (if you’re not on strict elimination diet and can eat egg)

For Snacks:
Dry-roasted Almonds
Fruit (I prefer grapes because they’re easy to grab, or cut up chunks of whatever is in season)
Popcorn (You can make your own with an air popper.  Then drizzle with olive oil and sea salt.)
Saltines
Almond butter or peanut butter
Hummus (Use tortilla chips or veggies to dip into)
Potato Chips
Salsa
Tortilla Chips

For Breakfast:
Total Raisin Bran (I recently discovered this has a full day’s serving of calcium.  Bonus for those of us going cow-free!)
OJ with calcium (just a good idea)
French Toast (if you can eat egg)
Banana Chocolate chip muffins
Fruit

For lunches:
Turkey sandwiches 
MSPI-friendly tuna sandwiches 
BLTs
Hot dogs
Tacos (Make a large batch of this pulled pork, divide into small portions and freeze.)
Pasta (Sautee whatever veggies or meat you have in your frig along with this tomato sauce.  I discovered this recipe when trying to get Fuss to arrive.  It didn’t work.  Instead, it took three hours of pushing and a c-section.  But that’s another story.  Again, make a large batch and freeze.)

Fried Okra

Ok, so I’m kind of giving away a closely-guarded family recipe here.  Hopefully, my mom will still talk to me after this post. 

Okra is a much undervalued vegetable in my opinion.  You don’t hear too much about it outside of the South.  But besides being one of the few veggies able to withstand the scorching summers down here, it also has a respectable amount of calcium and Vitamin C.  According to SELF nutrition data, it contains 24 and 52 percent, respectively.  And, it’s at it’s peak right now…so run to your farmer’s market and grab some!

This is one of my favorite summertime recipes.  It’s quick, easy and, best of all, it’s fried.  So no matter where you’re from, give this recipe a shot.  I can almost guarantee you’ll make it again.

Start with fresh, whole okra.  (If it’s the dead of winter, frozen is allowed).

Fresh Okra

Give it a good wash and cut into about one-inch pieces, discarding the tops.  Now throw it in a bowl and dust with corn meal, salt and black pepper.

Okra, coated

It doesn’t have to be thoroughly coated.  This isn’t Cracker Barrel-style okra.  Yeck.  This is much, much better…trust me.

Next add about 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a heavy, oven-safe skillet and give it a good swirl to coat the bottom.  Toss the okra in the skillet and give it a little stir so the oil coats the okra.  If you like, you can add a “tig” more corn meal.  (Tig is Southern for just a little).  You can also add a skosh or a smidgen, which are slightly larger than tig.  Just eyeball it.

Okra in skillet, before

Now just toss it in a 425 degree oven.  You probably want to stir at least once while cooking.

Thirty minutes later, you have some golden brown, crunchy bits of heaven.

Okra in skillet, after

Mmmm….enjoy!

Fried Okra

  • Okra, sliced into one-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. self-rising white corn meal
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and cut okra into 1-inch pieces, discarding tops.  In a medium bowl, toss okra with corn meal and salt and pepper to taste.

Add oil to heavy, oven-safe skillet and swirl to coat bottom.  Add coated okra and stir lightly to coat with oil.  Cook for thirty minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Hot Water Cornbread

This might be the closest I’ve come to that warm feeling you get when diving into hot buttered bread.  Sure, you can slather the fake butter on a piece of bread, but it’s just not the same.  It’s like a nod to butter – a watered-down version.  And while this doesn’t taste like buttered bread, it gives the same satisfaction.  At least it does for me.

It’s also really easy.  All it is is corn meal and, well, hot water.  First, start with self-rising white corn meal.  I like Aunt Jemima.  Something about her smile.

Corn Meal

Getting the right consistency is key.  Basically, when you drag your spoon through it, it should leave a track that quickly closes back together.

Hot Water Corn Bread Batter

I know, that sounds tricky but it’s pretty forgiving.  Especially if you add salt.  Anything’s better with pinch of salt.

Next, heat your skillet before you add the oil.  This is a little trick I just learned that helps prevent scorching when you’re pan frying.  Again, I prefer cast iron but if you’re not a convert yet, I guess a heavy duty skillet will do. But seriously, what are you waiting for?  It’s the original non-stick cookware. 🙂

You know the oil is ready when a little bit of batter sizzles.  If it pops wildly, back off the heat a bit.

Oil for Cornbread

Then you add your batter.  I use about 1/4 of a cup each.

Hot Water Cornbread Part 1

It’s kind of like pancakes.  When they start to bubble, they’re ready to flip.

Hot Water Cornbread Part 2

Mmm.  Now you’re ready to roll!  And yes, I realize most of the oil was absorbed.  I didn’t advertise these as health food.  But hey, you deserve it.

Here’s the recipe:

Hot Water Cornbread (three patties)

  • 1/2 cup self-rising white corn meal
  • 1/4 cup plus 1-1/2 tsp. hot water
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Heat your skillet over medium-high heat.  I used 4.5 out of 7 on my electric stove.  (The heat is key).  Add 2 Tbsp. oil and wait until hot (about 3 minutes).

Meanwhile, mix corn meal and water to desired consistency.  This is something you’ll have to get the hang of, but I added 1/4 cup, stirred, then added 1-1/2 teaspoons, stirred, then added just a tiny bit more.

Spoon batter into skillet (approximately 1/4 cup each).  Cook until bubbles appear, then flip.  Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

Thai Chicken Wraps

Don’t you just hate it when life gets in the way of good intentions? I’ve wanted to post, I’ve meant to post, but it’s deadline week at the magazine and, well, life happened.  So, I apologize for being such a slack blogger lately, but I have been cooking some might tasty things, and I hope to make it up to you with this post.  Get excited…it’s going to be good.  In fact, it’s really two recipes in one.

It all starts with the peanut dressing, which is just peanut butter, fresh lime juice, brown sugar, vegetable oil and chili powder.  Peanut and Lime Dressing

From here, you have two options: salad or wraps.  A salad hardly warrants a “recipe,” but for the curious, I used grilled chicken, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, celery, carrots, purple onion and cucumber.  Of course, you can use whatever you have in the drawer, thus the beauty of salad night! You can also thin the dressing with a touch of water if you please, which I didn’t do.

Peanut Dressing Salad

But, if you’re looking for something more adventurous, I’d go with the wrap.  To start, chop some carrots into cute little match sticks like so.

Matchstick Carrots

Of course, this is optional.  Feel free to cut as little coins or chunks or use them whole.  Heck, go buy the shredded stuff if you’re really feeling sassy.

Next, just saute or grill* some chicken (I marinate in Italian dressing first), tear up some cilantro and layer on a tortilla with the dressing.

*If you’ve never grilled before, make this your summer to try it – it’s insanely easy.  Have someone show you how to light a gas grill first (again, very easy) then cook the chicken on medium high heat for about 8 minutes each side.

Thai Chicken Wraps

Voila!  You now have a new favorite on your hands.  Enjoy!

Thai Chicken Wraps:

Peanut Dressing (enough for four wraps):

  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • Juice from 1 to 1-1/2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Chicken wraps:

  • 4 Flour tortillas, quesadilla size
  • 4 regular-sized carrots
  • 1-1/2 cups cilantro, torn
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • Italian dressing

Marinate chicken in Italian dressing for at least half an hour. Grill on medium high heat for about 8 minutes each side.  Slice and set aside.

Slice carrots lengthways into match sticks.  Layer chicken, carrots, cilantro and peanut dressing.  Wrap and enjoy!