Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moroccan Couscous Salad

So pretty! My daughter used Israeli couscous which is bigger than regular couscous.
My daughter is going off for a semester abroad in Scotland. For the first time in her life, she will be cooking for herself. Day in, day out. Not just the occasional grilled cheese sandwich. We are going through cookbooks looking for recipes that a) she would eat, b) require a minimum of equipment, and c) are quick and easy. A whole lot like the recipes here at School of Eating Good.

The first recipe she picked out is from Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. My daughter had it this summer when we finally got to the Moosewood, after 30 years of trying on my part. It fulfills all three of her conditions. Added bonus - it's full of healthy veggies.

Moroccan Couscous Salad
(serves 4 as an entree, 6 as a side dish; total cost $7.80)

1 ½ cups dry couscous (see Note)
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cups boiling water
1 cup diced carrots
2 large bell pepper, whatever color you like, diced
⅓ cup finely chopped red or sweet onion
1 15-16 oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
⅓ cup currants or raisins or craisins
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted at 300 F° for 5 minutes

½ cup vegetable oil
juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
3-4 tbl orange juice (juice from 1/2 an orange)
4 tbl chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (about 8 sprigs)
1 tbl fresh mint, chopped (optional)
pinch of cayenne
¼ tsp black pepper

Combine the couscous and salt in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

While couscous is cooking, steam the diced carrots for 10 minutes. Add steamed carrots, diced peppers, onion, garbanzo beans, currants, and almonds to couscous. Stir with a fork.

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium bowl. Add to couscous mixture and mix to coat the salad.

You can eat it right away but it's even better if you chill it for an hour to let the flavors meld. It will keep for up to 4 days if refrigerated. Once it's cold, you may need to season with more salt. Cold foods don't taste as seasoned as hot foods.

Note: Couscous is a teeny-tiny pasta which doesn't require much cooking. It tends to clump together if stirred too much when hot. Fluffing with a fork keeps the grains separate.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup - the easy way

By Till Westermayer from Freiburg, Germany (Buchstabensuppe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

These days, you don't need to make stock from scratch for a decent bowl of chicken noodle soup. Once upon a time, all the chicken stock you might find in the supermarket was either powdered bouillon (mostly salt and MSG) or a canned brand (again, a whole lot of salt). Neither of these choices came close to tasting like real stock. Now, there are many good brands of stock in a box and Better than Bouillon makes a line of stock pastes that is really top-notch. No kitchen should be without some form of stock since it is used in so many recipes. If you are a vegetarian, there are vegetable versions which can be used in any recipe calling for stock.

These supermarket stocks can be the basis for a good bowl of chicken soup. Not quite as good as my Jewish grandmother's chicken soup, but decent and far superior to any soup in a can.

Fast Chicken Noodle Soup
(serves 4; total cost is $7.60)

6 cups chicken stock
1 carrot, peeled and cut into thick sticks about 2" long (or use mini-carrots, cut into sticks)
1 large stalk of celery, trimmed and cut in 1/2 lengthwise and then into 2" lengths
6 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup tiny pasta such as vermicelli, alphabets, or tiny stars
lots of black pepper

Heat up the chicken stock to a simmer. Add carrots and celery and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. You want no crunch in the carrots.

Add the cooked chicken and cook for 5 minutes until chicken is hot.

Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes until pasta is done.

Season generously with black pepper. Usually additional salt is not needed because even the low-sodium stocks are fairly salty, but add some if you feel the soup is lacking flavor.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oven-fried Chicken

We at School of Eating Good are not opposed to frying. There is nothing like frying to produce crunchy crispy food. There is a significant drawback to frying, however. What a mess! For a quick weeknight dinner, frying is definitely not our first choice.

Oven-frying may not have the serious crunch of deep-fat frying, but it is feasible any night of the week. The breading keeps the chicken moist. It's reasonably crunchy and very tasty.

This recipe uses bone-in chicken parts, but boneless, skinless chicken works too. You'll need to adjust the cooking time because boneless chicken cooks faster. Figure 30 minutes for a boneless breast.

Oven-Fried Chicken
(serves 4)

2 clove Garlic, minced
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
¼ cup Grated Pamesan Cheese, about 1 ounce
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Crushed Dried Thyme
2 tbl Butter, melted
¼ cup Milk, or buttermilk
2 ½ pounds Chicken Parts

Preheat oven to 375℉. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or rub with a little vegetable oil.

Combine garlic, panko crumbs, salt, pepper, and thyme in a medium bowl. Add butter and toss to moisten crumbs.

Pour milk into a shallow bowl. Dip chicken in milk to coat then roll in panko crumb mixture.

Place chicken on prepared baking sheet, leaving space between pieces. Bake until coating is crisp and juices run clean when chicken is pierced with a knife, about 45-55 minutes.

Note: Panko bread crumbs are extra crispy Japanese bread crumbs. Other crunchy things can be used instead of panko such as crushed up tortilla chips, potato chips, pretzels, or regular bread crumbs (either dried or fresh).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peppered Party Almonds and a tip on becoming a successful cook

If we had one tip for beginning cooks it would be "Read the recipe." Read it all the way through, carefully, before you ever start cooking. Surprises suck - surprises like "Cook for 2 hours" and your guests are about to arrive. Or "Chill overnight" and you need to bring dessert to a party right now. Or, you are missing an ingredient in the recipe you were hoping to eat for dinner in the next 30 minutes.

Now, before you start thinking "Oh, that has so happened to me!" and you beat yourself up over it, just stop. We have all done this, experienced and beginner alike. You're in a rush, you scan the recipe, and you miss some important step or ingredient.

So, slow down. Read that recipe top to bottom. Read all the ingredients. Read through all the steps.

We know this is rather obvious as tips go, but it is really important. If you get in the habit of reading through recipes, you will avoid a lot of surprises that can make you feel like an incompetent cook (not to mention a dope). Confidence, which comes from success in the kitchen, is a big part of becoming a good cook. Give yourself an advantage from the get-go: read the recipe. If you can eliminate those unnecessary surprises, you'll be well on your way to being a star in the kitchen.

Here's a party recipe that takes no time to read or make.

Peppered Almonds
(makes 2 cups)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups whole unsalted almonds

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add almonds, toss to coat with butter and spices and remove from heat.

Spread nuts on a sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Cool for a couple of minutes and serve.

Peppered almonds will keep for a few weeks in an airtight container. They make a great snack too!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken & Broccoli Stir-fry

A successful stir-fry requires a number of things:
  • You need to have everything ready before you start cooking. Things happen fast with a stir-fry because it is a high-heat cooking method. If you don't have every ingredient measured and ready to go, things will go south quickly. Garlic burns, meat overcooks. Not pretty. Having everything ready to go is called "mise en place." It's French for putting in place. Mise en place is how restaurants can turn out hundreds of from-scratch meals in very little time. And, it's not just for restaurants. It will make you a better home cook.
  • You need to cut your raw ingredients in similar bite-sized pieces. Food needs to cook quickly and if there are big hunks of meat or broccoli in your stir-fry, or if everything is cut in very different sizes, it will not cook quickly nor will it cook evenly. You want the meat and veggies in equivalent bite-sized pieces.
  • You need to use really high heat. A stir-fry cooks in 10 minutes or less. For that to happen, you need to get your skillet or wok as hot as you can. Of course, because you are working with very high heat, you have to be on top of what's going on. No answering the phone. No digging through the fridge for ingredients (see first bullet again). It also means that you need to keep stirring the ingredients to keep things from burning. There's a reason it's called stir-fry. The high heat is also what makes it taste so good, so don't be afraid. 
This is about as simple as you can get in a stir-fry. It's not sophisticated but it's quick and filling. Future posts will feature other stir-fries with more complex flavors.

Chicken & Broccoli Stir-fry
(serves 2-3)

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon dry sherry or Chinese rice wine (see Note)
¾ pound skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into slices about ¼" thick, 2 x 1" long and wide (see Variations)
½ pound broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets, stems peeled and sliced 1/4" thick (see Variations)
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
½ - 1 teaspoon minced ginger, depending on your love of ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth
additional soy sauce, if desired

Combine soy sauce, cornstarch and dry sherry in a medium bowl. Mix enough to dissolve cornstarch. Add chicken breast and toss to coat meat with marinade. Marinate in the fridge for 10-30 minutes. Drain chicken pieces, reserving 1 tablespoon of marinade.

Heat oil in skillet or wok until very hot. The oil will shimmer and ripple (but not smoke) when it's hot enough. Don't walk away while the oil is heating up because it can go from hot enough to bursting into flames quickly. [If this ever happens to you, don't panic! Cover the pan with a lid and remove from the heat. Do not remove lid until pan has cooled.]

Add chicken to skillet and immediately start stirring it around. Stir fry for a few minutes until chicken begins to brown. Add ginger, garlic and broccoli. Stir fry for another 5-6 minutes until broccoli is done to your liking.

Add broth and 1 tablespoon of reserved marinade. Cook for 30 seconds. The sauce should boil and thicken somewhat.

Serve with rice, passing soy sauce if additional salt is needed.

Note: Though we don't generally recommend cooking sherry, if you aren't old enough to buy actual sherry, it will do if it's all you can get. Just remember that it has a lot of added salt so you probably won't need additional soy sauce. You can also find Chinese cooking rice wine in most Asian markets, but it also has salt added.

Variations: Beef, pork, shrimp, scallops, or tofu can be substituted for the chicken. They will all cook in about the same time if they are cut into a similar size. Jumbo shrimp should be cut in half lengthwise. Tofu should be cut into 1x1" cubes. Other vegetables can be used, such as bok choy, Napa cabbage, mushrooms, or green beans. Bok choy, Napa cabbage, and mushrooms will cook in less time, about 3 minutes. Green beans will take as long as broccoli to cook.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Easy Indian Samosas

I've been lucky to visit India twice. Both times I surprised my hosts by requesting they only take me to eat Indian vegetarian food. Why would I want to eat pizza when I could get wonderful hearty and spicy dishes that take hours to make?

Back home, I searched for an easy recipe for my favorite Indian appetizer, Samosas. I hate deep frying foods, as it spits and makes a greasy mess of my stove.  This recipe uses Puff Pastry and is baked instead of fried. It is easier to make, but more importantly, easier to clean up after!

These are a great appetizer for a holiday party. You can make them half the size of these pictured for a one bite version or cut them up before serving. If you make smaller ones, watch them in the oven, as they will take less time to bake. They are wonderful right out of the oven, and nearly as good served at room temperature, perfect for the party buffet table.

You can serve them with a chutney, such as Major Grey's or try this simple apricot sauce that you can mix up in no time at all.

Don't try reheating the samosas in the microwave, as you'll get a greasy mess.  But, they reheat nicely if you take them out of the fridge to warm up for 10 minutes, then pop them in a 350° F oven for another 5 minutes.

(makes 18)

1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed
3 medium size potatoes
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium size onion, peeled and minced
1 cup shelled fresh or defrosted frozen peas
1 Tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 fresh hot green chili, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and boil them for 20-40 minutes, until they are soft enough to cut into, but not mushy. Cool them to room temperature and then peel the potatoes and dice them into roughly ¼ inch square pieces.  Heat the 4 Tablespoons oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Put in the onion, stirring and frying until it turns a light-brown color.  Add the peas, ginger, green chili, salt, coriander, garam masala, cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons of water. Stir it together and then add the potatoes. Keep the heat low and mix the spices with the potatoes. Add additional water, 1 Tablespoon at a time, if the mixture dries out. Continue cooking gently, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes more. Check salt and lemon juice. Turn off the heat and let the potato mixture cool.

Heat the oven to 400° F. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Roll each pastry sheet to a 12-inch square. Cut each sheet into 9 (about 4-inch) squares, making 18 in all. Divide the potato mixture among the pastry squares, placing about 1 scant Tablespoon on each. Brush the edges of the pastry squares with the egg-water mixture. Fold the pastry over the filling to form a triangle and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush the filled pastries with the egg wash. Place the pastries onto 2 baking sheets.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Note: The filling freezes well, so you can freeze ½ of it and only make 1 sheet worth of samosas if you don't need enough for a party. Make sure to thaw the filling completely before assembling the samosas.

Simple, but Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce

½ cup apricot preserves
1 Tablespoon water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh hot green chili, minced (optional)

Mix together and if you like a smooth sauce, whir it up in a blender or food processor.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simple Steamed Broccoli with Garlic

Broccoli is a cool season crop so it is likely to show up on sale during the fall and winter, in other words, right now.

Some people are happy to eat vegetables plain - that would be Ronnie. I, on the other hand, like stuff on my vegetables. Stuff like olive oil, toasted nuts, garlic, olives, capers. It would be a shame to skip the vegetables just because you are afraid of adding a little fat and salt. If liking your vegetables means gussying them up a bit, don't feel guilty about it.

This is a very easy but tasty way to prepare broccoli. Any leftovers are good in a green salad.

Simple Garlic Broccoli
(serves 3-4)

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 head of broccoli, broken into small florets and stems peeled and cut into 1/4" slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

Heat 1 Tbl olive oil in a medium saucepan or skillet with a cover over medium heat.

Add garlic and saute until fragrant but not browned. Don't burn it - it turns bitter.

Add broccoli and toss to cover with oil. Add 1 tbl water,  which should immediately create a lot of steam. Cover and steam broccoli for 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Try a piece after 4 minutes if you like your broccoli crisp. If it's not cooked enough, cook for another minute.

Remove the cover, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook another minute to evaporate most of the water.

Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese

School of Eating Good just held a class on easy pasta dishes. Two of the dishes have already appeared on the blog: Bowties with Pesto, and Easy Mac and Cheese.

Here's the 3rd recipe our students prepared: Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese. It's really easy and really delicious.

Penne with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese
Makes 6 generous servings; total cost is $11.50

1 box (14.5 oz. to 1 lb.) penne
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste (see Note)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (14.5 oz.) can petite-diced tomatoes, un-drained
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped basil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for topping

Cook penne in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes (until al dente). Save about ½ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Wipe out the pasta pot and in it cook the sausage and garlic over medium heat until the sausage is cooked through, stirring to crumble it. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, pepper flakes, tomatoes, and cream and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pasta, cheese, and basil to the sausage mixture and stir to cover the pasta with the sauce.  Add some of the pasta water if it looks dry. Serve with additional cheese for topping.

Note: The most cost-effective way to buy tomato paste is in a tube. It's now available in most supermarkets. It keeps in your fridge for a long time, making it a much better choice for recipes that require just a little tomato paste.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Microwave Rice

Cooking rice on a stove is not as easy as people would have you believe. If you set the heat too high, it can boil over, creating an awful mess. Leave it on the heat a little too long, and you end with rice bonded to your pan. Yet another mess! Too much water, end up with mush. Too little water, crunchy rice. Ick.

I have a confession. I'm a trained chef and even I have trouble getting rice right cooked on the stove (when I worked in restaurants, we steamed the rice in a big steamer which was nearly foolproof). A rice cooker does ok, but who needs another appliance cluttering up the counter? You have a microwave cluttering up your counter already and it happens to be a great rice cooker. Some people have no choice; a microwave is the only thing they have.

Rice is a staple, so having a good method for cooking it in the microwave would be nice, wouldn't it? There are a lot of bad microwave rice recipes out there. By bad, I mean, recipes that totally trash your microwave. I have done extensive testing of recipes and this one really works without creating a pool of starchy rice water in the bottom of your microwave.

Microwave Rice
(makes 3 cups, serves 4-6)

1 3/4 cup water or broth
1 cup rice (converted, jasmine, basmati, long-grain)

Place water and rice in a 4 cup microwaveable bowl or measuring cup. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. The water should be boiling at this point, but not frothing and going over the sides. Microwave on low (20-30%) power for another 20 minutes. Nearly all the water should be absorbed at the end. Let stand for 5 minutes

On high powered microwaves, 30% is enough to cause boil-overs. Try 30% and if looks like it's going to blow, reduce power to 20%. If it doesn't boil at all in the first minute after you reduced the power, try 40%. The first time you try this, you'll want to keep an eye on it. Unfortunately, given the different power ratings on microwaves (anywhere from 500-1200 watts), it's impossible to give the perfect recipe for every microwave oven.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Knives - what you need to know

Good quality knives are one of the most important tools in your kitchen. They are an investment since a good knife will last for decades, and like most investments, they aren't inexpensive. You don't need to get the most expensive knife but you definitely don't want to get the cheapest knife! You don't need a whole knife block of them either. Get yourself a chef's knife and a paring knife. You'll want a serrated bread knife too but that isn't nearly as important as the first two.
My well-used knives: 10" Chef's, Santuko, paring

Chef's knives come in various sizes, the most common size is 8" to 10". Most people with small hands prefer the smaller size, but a lot of this depends on what you are used to handling. Another option, if a big knife scares you, is a Santoku. It's a Japanese knife with a blunted tip and a shorter blade. It's also an excellent all-purpose knife and it's a style that is now readily available. In either style, you want a knife that has an entirely steel blade. The more metal, the more durable it will be. Skip those plastic knives with a thin strip of metal embedded in the plastic. The handle should be comfortable in your hand. Different brands have different handles. You need to hold them to figure out what you like. I like my Wusthof. Ronnie likes the F.Dick knives. That doesn't mean you'll like either of these. Hold them and decide for yourself.  To hold a chef's knife correctly, choke up on the handle, putting your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other.  Don't put your index finger on the top along the blade; your hand will tire quickly with that grip.

Paring knives are small knives with a pointy tip. You should be able to pick one up cheaply. Many kitchen stores even give away paring knives when you purchase a decent chef's knife.

People often think that dull knives are safer than sharp knives. This is untrue. A dull knife is still absolutely capable of doing a lot of damage to your fingers. But, because it is dull, you need to push a  lot harder to get it to cut through food. This extra force makes it more dangerous. It can bounce off food when you least expect it, ending up in your hand. Sharp knives require almost no work to cut through food. No pushing, no whacking, no forcing. Keep your knives sharp and respect that they are sharp. You won't have to work as hard in the kitchen.

We recommend that you find someplace that will sharpen your knives. Our local hardware store sharpens knives, as does some of the supermarkets. You won't need to sharpen them often - maybe once or twice a year depending on how much you use your knife - but you'll be happy you did. It's also important to steel your knife, to keep the edge really sharp. Here's a short video from Alton Brown that distills steeling and sharpening down to its bare essentials.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Curry: tasty solution for turkey leftovers

Thanksgiving means turkey, and if you are lucky, you will find yourself with a bumper crop of leftover turkey. There will be turkey soup bubbling on stoves Friday and turkey sandwiches to last through the weekend. Here's a different spin on turkey leftovers - a curry. It's a great quick stew for using up all manner of leftover protein. If you don't have turkey, use cooked chicken, cooked shrimp, tofu, or a favorite in my house, leftover leg of lamb.

Quick Turkey Curry
recipe adapted from The Turkey Cookbook by Rick Rodgers
(4 servings)

3 tbl butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbl curry powder
2 tbl flour
1 1/2 cups Turkey Stock or Chicken Stock
3 cups turkey, chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 1 pound)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt (nonfat, low-fat or full-fat)
3/4 cup frozen mango, thawed  and chopped (or 1 medium banana, cut into 1/2" slices)
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (see Note)

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, apple, and garlic and cook until the onion is softened and just golden.

Sprinkle onions with curry powder and stir for 15 seconds.

Sprinkle onions with flour and cook for another minute.

Stir in broth, bring to a simmer and then cook on medium-low for 5 minutes.

Stir in turkey and salt. Cook for 5 minutes to reheat turkey.

Add yogurt and mango. Stir to combine and remove from heat. If you cook the yogurt too long, it will separate and you'll see little flecks of white. Your sauce won't be as smooth either but it's still perfectly fine to eat.

Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve over rice.

Note: to toast nuts put them on a cookie sheet and place in a preheated 300 degree oven for 5 minutes. Don't forget them - they burn quickly!


"As American as Apple Pie." Though apples aren't native to North America, they are certainly associated with the US. They were brought from the Old World to the US early in our history, but these trees didn't fare well here. Most of our apple varieties were actually bred here, making the apple truly American.

Apples are available year round now. US apples are put in cold storage in the fall and shipped out most of the year. And if that isn't enough apples for you, they are shipped from temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere, such as New Zealand, in the northern spring.

The fact that apples are kept in cold storage is a clue to how you should store them once you get them home. They should be refrigerated to maintain their crisp texture. Unrefrigerated apples quickly turn mealy which is definitely not a good eating apple.

Many people are bewildered by the seemingly endless variety of apples available in your average US supermarket. Who can blame them? How do you pick an apple for a pie? To put in your lunch? To make pork and apples? Here's a list of the most widely known apple varieties, their characteristics, and best uses from the Apple Journal, a great site for all things apple.

Braeburn: an excellent eating and cooking apple with a nice sweet-tart flavor. It's a good keeper. Great for salads because it doesn't turn brown very quickly.

Cameo: like Braeburn, an excellent eating and cooking apple that doesn't brown quickly. It stores well and holds its shape when cooked. More sweet than tart; the balance of the two makes for a mild, tasty apple.

Cortland: a good fresh-eating apple but it doesn't store well, so get it in fall before it's been sitting in storage. Another apple that browns slowly, making it an excellent choice for salads.

Empire: a good all-purpose apple with a firm texture and sweet flavor. It stores fairly well.

Fuji: an exceptional apple both for its excellent mild flavor and its keeping qualities. Even Fuji's stored until into the spring are fine fresh eating apples.

Gala: a sweet, mild apple best for fresh-eating. Not a good keeper so enjoy while in season in the fall.

Golden Delicious: a mild eating apple, some would say kind of dull. Best in season, not out of storage. Good for cooking in pies or sauces.

Granny Smith: quite tart, very crisp and it holds up well in shipping and storage. More a cooking apple than a fresh-eating apple but if you like your apples tart, this is the apple for you.

Honeycrisp: the new apple on the block. Many consider this the best fresh-eating apple around and it often commands prices to match that popularity. Crisp, juicy and perfectly tart-sweet. Good cooking apple.

Jonagold: a good juicy eating apple with a complex flavor. Best in season.

Jonathon: excellent eating apple that keeps well. It does not hold its shape in cooking so best for sauce or fresh-eating. It is a 200 year old variety from New York state, making it truly American.

MacIntosh: A tangy spicy apple in season but their texture goes soft (though not necessarily mealy) in storage. Best eaten in season. Good for pies and sauce but doesn't hold its shape in cooking.

Red Delicious: the iconic-looking apple with shiny red skin. Unfortunately, its flavor doesn't live up to its name and it is often stored way too long.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Homemade Granola

Homemade granola is so much better than what you can buy in a box or from the bulk bins at the store.  You can control the sweetness, include the nuts and fruits you like (or not), and it's way less expensive, too!  Here is the recipe I make every few weeks.  I like it with yogurt or as a snack, but of course, you can eat it for breakfast with milk, too.

makes about 7 cups

3 cups rolled oats (get the organic oats at the grocery store bulk aisle)
2 cups nuts (I like slivered almonds, but I've made it with half almonds and half pecans, all pecans, or walnuts)
1/8 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup dried fruit (brown or golden raisins, chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flax seed, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  In a measuring cup, pour in the oil and maple syrup.    Pour the liquid mixture into the dry and mix thoroughly.  Pour onto a half sheet pan or two smaller pans that have sides.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed.  Keep it in the refrigerator, so it stays fresh. Well, that's only if you don't snarf it down right away!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Excitement at School of Eating Good

As some of you may know, School of Eating Good is part of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Our official name on Facebook is "Boulder, CO Food Revolution" and are very proud to be associated with Mr. Oliver's organization. If you are not on Facebook, you can see what the Food Revolution is about here. There are a number of thrusts to the Food Revolution, but it boils down to a simple message: improving the way we eat. There are groups dedicated to improving school lunches and getting sweetened milk out of schools, groups that promote sustainable agriculture, and, groups like School of Eating Good that are dedicated to improving how we eat by teaching people how to cook.

We are very excited because the home office asked us to write an article about who we are, what we do and our plans for the future. It is now up on the Food Revolution page with a picture of our smiling faces. We want to thank you, our readers, for giving us this opportunity. Traffic through our Facebook page was noticed by the Food Revolution and that's why we were asked to write the article. This can only be good for School of Eating Good as it is sure to generate even more traffic through our Facebook page and this blog. We love the fact that even more people will help us spread the message that cooking is great fun and the key to eating well and building connections between people!

If you support the mission of the Food Revolution, why don't you sign Jamie's Petition?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My daughter loves everything pumpkin – pumpkin pie, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin muffins, and especially pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  These are little cakey wonders, with a sweet, maple icing. The icing can be piped on (like in the picture above) or spread on the cookies after they cool.  Feel free to substitute chopped pecans for the chocolate chips and maybe put some in the icing, too.  But, first try them with chocolate chips and you’ll see why these are one of her favorites.

For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the icing:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound (about 4 cups) powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

In a second large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the pumpkin, egg and vanilla, then mix until well combined. Add half the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the other half and mix again. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets in 1-Tablespoon mounds, arranging them 2 inches apart.  Bake for 14 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges.  Midway through baking, rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back.

While the cookies bake, in a medium bowl combine the butter and maple syrup. Use an electric mixer to beat until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.  Mix well. Add the powdered sugar and mix well, beating until fluffy. Set aside.

Once the cookies have baked, cool them on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, either pipe or spread the frosting on them.  Makes about 50 cookies.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Easy Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods. Nowadays, most of it comes out of a box, which is a bit sad since it's unbelievably easy to make it yourself. This recipe isn't the saucy variety but it is delicious and cheesy. You have to wait longer for it because it's baked but the actual work takes about 5 minutes.

Easy Mac & Cheese
(serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish; total cost is $4.10)

1 cup Elbow Macaroni
2 cups Shredded Jack, Colby Or Cheddar Cheese, about 8 oz
1 tsp Butter + some to grease the dish
½ cup Milk (skim, lowfat or whole milk; half & half or cream work too if you want it really rich)
1 large Egg , beaten
½ tsp Salt
1 pinch Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water for 8 minutes. Drain well. Place in a buttered 4 cup baking dish or glass measure.

Add butter and mix to melt butter. Add 1 ½ cups cheese to macaroni and mix. Combine milk, egg, salt and pepper. Pour over macaroni. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes until milk is absorbed and cheese is gooey.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crockpot Pulled Pork

It's getting nippy out there. Here in Boulder, it snowed about a foot this week. That means it's definitely time to break out the crockpot. Here's a delicious version of pulled pork for the crockpot.

Ronnie's Pulled Pork
(serves 6-8)

3 to 3 1/2 pounds Pork Shoulder (or use pork chops, but not too lean), cut into large slices if a roast
10 ounces Apricot Spreadable Fruit
3⁄4 cup Bottled Hot Style BBQ Sauce
1⁄4 cup Ketchup
1⁄2 cup Dried Apricots

In a slow cooker, place pork, apricot spreadable fruit, barbeque sauce, ketchup, dried apricots. Mix it all together and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. With 2 forks, pull the meat apart. Serve on rolls and enjoy!

Note: Pork Shoulder is also referred to as Pork Butt or Boston Butt

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Warm gooey cheesy enchiladas - what a great dish for a chilly fall day. Here's a basic chicken enchiladas recipe that is very easy and very tasty.

We've included a recipe for green chile sauce and, of course, we recommend you make your own, seeing as we are all about cooking from scratch. It's not difficult and takes about 15 minutes. Keep some in the freezer. It's also good on scrambled eggs, chicken, a burger. It lacks a lot of unnecessary processed "extras" that are added to canned green chile sauce. And, really, it tastes a whole lot better.

Green Chile Sauce (makes about 2 cups)

2 tbl Vegetable Oil, or butter
2 tbl Flour
8 ounces Chopped Green Chiles, use hot or mild or a mix of both based on your heat tolerance
1⁄4 cup Chopped Onion
1 3⁄4 cups Water
1⁄2 tsp Salt
1⁄4 tsp Ground Cumin
1⁄4 tsp Dried Oregano
1⁄4 tsp Garlic Powder
1⁄4 tsp Black Pepper

Heat oil over medium heat. Add flour and stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Note: you can use fresh roasted and peeled chiles, frozen and thawed chiles, or canned chiles. The flavor is best with fresh or frozen but canned chiles are acceptable and readily available.

Chicken Enchiladas
(serves 4; total cost is $6.00)

1 recipe Green Chile Sauce, heated
8 Corn Tortillas
1⁄2 tbl Vegetable Oil
4 ounces Chopped Green Chiles
1 small Onion, diced
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1⁄2 tsp Salt
1⁄4 tsp Black Pepper
1 1⁄2 cups Shredded Cooked Chicken, about 8 oz before cooking
6 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (about 1 1⁄2 cups)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wrap the stack of tortillas in foil and place in the oven.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and green chile. Saute for 5 minutes, until onions are soft.

Dump onions in a bowl. Add chicken, cumin, salt and pepper, and 1⁄2 the cheese. Take the tortillas out of the oven and turn the oven up to 400 degrees.

Put about 1 cup of enchilada sauce in a 9x9" baking dish and spread in bottom of dish.

Remove a tortilla from the foil. It should be soft enough to roll up. Place it on flat surface and place 1⁄8 of the chicken mixture across the center. Roll the tortilla up and place in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas. They will all fit if you squeeze them together.

Spread the rest of green chile sauce on top of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Stick to your ribs Kielbasa and Potato Stew

A simple, hearty stew perfect for fall or winter. You can use any kind of kielbasa - turkey, beef, pork, low-fat.

Serve with a salad. You can make it while the stew simmers.

1 1/2 cups sliced onions (1 large onion)
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1" slices
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
4 medium red potatoes, peeled or not, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (or use dried thyme or dried oregano)
1 1/4 cups water

In a dutch oven over medium heat, saute onions in butter until soft and yellow.

Turn up heat to medium-high and add kielbasa to onions. Saute until kielbasa browns.

Remove pot from heat and add paprika. Stir well. (The reason you remove the pan from the heat it because it can burn and become bitter.)

Add remaining ingredients. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove cover and cook for another 5 minutes until sauce is thickened and potatoes are tender.

Herbs - whenever you need them

Nowadays, many recipes call for fresh herbs. Fresh herbs are wonderful but unless you grow them yourself, they are expensive and quite perishable. We at the School of Eating Good try to use fresh herbs when we have them - we grow them in our gardens and have small pots of them in sunny windows for winter use. But, we realize that many people don't have access to fresh herbs. Therefore, we give you an alternative to fresh herbs, either with dried or frozen herbs, in our recipes.

The basic conversion rate for fresh to dried herbs is 3x fresh =  1 dried herbs. If a recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon fresh herbs, use 1 Teaspoon dried herbs. Frozen herbs need no conversion. Certain herbs such as cilantro and chives do not dry well but they freeze quite well. Other herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, Italian parsley, and rosemary also freeze well. Give them a rinse, allow them to airdry, then freeze them in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, put them in a plastic bag for storage in the deep freeze. When you need some, just take out what you need and use like fresh. Since packages of fresh herbs at the market usually contain more than you'll need for a single recipe, this is also a great way to get the most out of those expensive fresh herbs.

Dried herbs have a long storage life but it's not forever. After about 1 year, they lose a lot of flavor. You should try to buy just a little at a time. Some supermarkets now sell dried herbs and spices in the bulk section where you can buy much less than a whole jar for a reasonable price. If you can only buy herbs in a full jar,  have a herb swap with your friends. Have a group of friends each buy a jar or two of dried herbs. Get together and divvy up the each jar among the group. Now you all have a little bit of all the herbs rather than each of you having a big jar of one herb that you'll never use up before it loses its punch!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Homemade Vinaigrette - you'll never want store-bought salad dressing again!

Vinaigrette is an emulsion of oil and vinegar, often flavored with herbs, spices, and other ingredients, such as shallots, raspberries, and cheese.  The basic recipe is to slowly add 3 parts oil at room temperature to 1 part vinegar, using a whisk, until it emulsifies into a creamy sauce.  Salt and pepper are added to taste and the addition of a small amount of mustard can help the keep the oil and acid in an emulsified state.  The typical amount per serving is 1 ½ - 2 Tablespoons.  I like to make up about a cup of vinaigrette and keep it in the refrigerator.  Basic vinaigrette will stay in the refrigerator for a couple weeks before the emulsion breaks down.  Here are my favorite recipes. 

But wait, here’s a trick!  Dampen a paper towel and put it on your counter under the bowl you are going to use to make the vinaigrette.  It will help keep the bowl from whirling around while you pour the oil with one hand and whisk with the other.

Basic Vinaigrette: put 4 Teaspoons Dijon mustard in a small bowl with ¼ cup vinegar (I'm a fan of white balsamic).  Slowly whisk in ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil until it emulsifies. Mix in salt and pepper to taste.

Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette:  put 1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses in a small bowl with 3 Tablespoons dark balsamic vinegar. Whisk in ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil. Mix in salt and pepper to taste. Note: this makes a fantastic fall dinner salad with arugula, chunks of roasted sweet potatoes, chicken or turkey, pomegranate seeds, and shaved parmesan cheese.  Did you know you can freeze pomegranate seeds?  I do it every fall, so I can eat this yummy salad all year long!

Asian Sesame Vinaigrette: put ¼ cup toasted sesame oil, 2 Tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a small bowl.  Whisk in ¾ cup canola or vegetable oil.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fish and Mushrooms in Foil

Quick. Easy. Tasty. Clean-up is minimal since the fish cooks in a foil packet. You can make a single serving but we recommend making a few servings. Leftovers heat up well and taste great.

This recipe doesn't look easy because there are a lot of steps but it's really just about building up the parts in the packet. All the steps are very simple and quick.

This recipe uses tarragon. Tarragon has a distinctive flavor of licorice. If you don't like that flavor another herb such as basil or thyme can be substituted. Fresh parsley is good too.

For each serving:
6 oz boneless white fish fillet, such as sole, catfish or tilapia
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
4 medium button mushrooms
1 Tablespoon + about 1 teaspoon butter
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped OR 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
1 teaspoon minced fresh OR frozen chives, optional (see note)
black pepper

1 12" x 12" square of foil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle fish fillet with lemon juice and let stand while you do your prep.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add tarragon to butter and garlic. Set aside.

Slice mushrooms and set aside.

Rub about 1 teaspoon butter onto center of foil square. Place fish and lemon juice on top of buttered section. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Arrange mushrooms slices on top of fish. Drizzle with melted butter/garlic/tarragon.

Sprinkle with another pinch of salt and pepper.

Fold up long sides of foil and tightly crimp it to seal. Seal ends by rolling up. You want a good seal because a) it prevents leaks which are messy, and b) the fish steams better if you have a good seal.

Place foil packet on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

Cut open foil packet and spoon fish with sauce onto a plate. Can be served with anything that will soak up the sauce - rice, noodles or bread.

Note: Chives freeze exceptionally well. Since you always get more than you need in a supermarket package, you'll want to preserve the extra. Clean out any dried or brown chives and freeze them on a plate or cookie sheet. Once they are frozen, you can put them in a small plastic bag. To use, no need to thaw, snip them with scissors (the easiest way) or chop with a knife.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quick Summer Pasta - Good All Year

Summer is winding down. Fall arrives on Friday but we can still enjoy the bounty of summer, even into the winter. This recipe uses pesto and cherry tomatoes, foods associated with summer. But, you can make this year round because cherry tomatoes are available in winter and decent pesto is sold in most supermarkets. Try to find the pesto sold in the refrigerated case because it is far superior to the pesto sold in shelf-stable jars.

Bowties with pesto
(serves 4)

1 lb. regular or multigrain bowtie pasta
8 oz. container pesto
1 pt. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and while warm, add the pesto, tomatoes, and feta cheese and stir.

Variation: to bulk this up, cut 1 large cooked boneless chicken breast (about 8 oz) into bite-sized pieces and add it at the same time as the pesto. See our post on Curried Chicken Salad on how to quickly cook chicken breasts in the microwave.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

That's peachy!

It's still peach season here in Colorado. Beautiful peaches are available everywhere. A really ripe peach is a summer joy. You know the kind - you need to eat it over the sink. But, peaches are a great year-round treat because they freeze so well. You can pick up a bag of frozen peaches at the supermarket and keep them stashed for smoothies, peach sauce - great on pancakes, and peach desserts like crisps or cobblers.

Here's a peach topping that is so easy. You use the microwave to cook the peaches in a simple maple syrup flavored sauce. Real maple syrup is expensive, but this extends that luxury by mixing it with peaches. Imitation maple syrup works too if real maple syrup isn't in your budget.  The peaches are good on pancakes, pound cake, ice cream, or frozen vanilla yogurt. It's a fruity way to sweeten plain yogurt too.

Peach Slices with Maple Syrup
(adapted from Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving)

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
4 large peaches, peeled and sliced OR 3 cups thawed frozen peach slices

Combine maple syrup and sugar in a 4 cup microwavable container. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.

Add peach slices, cover and microwave for 3 additional minutes. Let stand, covered, for 2 additional minutes.

Use hot, cool in the refrigerator or freeze in plastic containers if not using in the next week.

Note: 2 Tablespoons of Amaretto or Sherry can be added when peach slices are added, if desired. Amaretto, an almond liqueur from Italy, and peaches are a particularly tasty combination.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuna alla Puttanesca

Here's a quick end-of-summer pasta dinner. Packs a lot of flavor and uses the bold ingredients of Pasta all Puttanesca: capers and olives. If you have ripe summer tomatoes, use them. The rest of the year, you'll get better flavor from canned tomatoes. This recipe is plenty tasty with any canned tuna but if you want to get decadent, use imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil.

Tuna alla Puttanesca
(from The Tuna Council of The National Fisheries Institute)
4 servings

2 cans (5 ounces each) tuna in water or oil OR 10-12 oz Italian tuna packed in olive oil
1 lb. farfalle pasta
4 Tablespoons olive oil (or use the oil from the tuna can/jar, if using tuna packed in olive oil)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, cut in ¼“ slices
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice or 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons capers, drained
1 Tablespoon rosemary, chopped
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in quarters
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1 Tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

Drain the tuna, reserving the oil if using tuna in olive oil. Flake the tuna. Set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Set aside.

Place oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and sauté about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and juice, wine, capers, rosemary, olives, and pepper.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Raise heat to medium and cook another 3 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.  Add salt to taste (careful: there is a lot of salt in the capers and olives).

Combine tuna, sauce and parsley with pasta.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

So, how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?

After a while, you just know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon. Or, how many cups are in a quart. Of the many bits of kitchen information that we have stuffed in our heads, some of the most useful are the kitchen equivalents. They are so useful, we have printed them on the back of our business cards.

Since we can't hand you our business card, we are reprinting the most useful kitchen equivalents here. We will have a follow-up to this post with other useful conversions, like how many tablespoons of lemon juice you can expect to get from the average lemon.

THIS AMOUNT                         EQUALS THIS AMOUNT                         EQUALS
1/8 teaspoon . . . . . . . . . . .  a pinch 2 cups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 pint
3 teaspoons . . . . . . . 1 Tablespoon 2 pints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 quart
4 Tablespoons . . . . . . . . . . 1/4 cup 4 quarts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 gallon
5  Tablespoons . . . . . . . . 1/3 cup 2 Tablespoons . . . . . . . . . . 1 ounce
16 Tablespoons. . . . . . . . . . . 1 cup 16 ounces . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 pound

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Potato, Two Potato, Red Potato, Blue Potato…

Yes, there are blue potatoes, though they are really more purple-colored.  You may have never eaten a purple potato but almost everyone has eaten a Russet (also known as an Idaho even if it doesn't come from Idaho) . Russets are “baking” potatoes but for cooking, they are the go-to potato. They can be baked, fried – Russets are used to make French fries, mashed, boiled. If you are looking for a single potato that is good for nearly everything, it’s the Russet. They are starchy which is why they bake up all fluffy and turn into silky smooth mashed potatoes.


Potatoes with less starch are called “waxy” potatoes. They hold together better so they are great for roasting, boiling and potato salad.  They make decent mashed potatoes, but they are not as smooth as Russets. Red-skinned potatoes and yellow potatoes, like Yukon Golds, are waxy potatoes.

Blue potatoes are the waxiest of all so don’t try to make mashed blue potatoes. They’ll look cool but the texture is often lumpy and not at all smooth.

No matter what the color of your potatoes, you should store them in a cool, dry and dark place. You may be tempted to put them in the refrigerator but this isn't recommended. Potatoes convert starch to sugar in cold temperatures, and sweet-tasting potatoes are just weird.

Here's a simple microwave recipe for potatoes. They don't brown up like oven-roasted potatoes; the peel is left on to give them some color. But they still taste good, clean-up is very easy and they take a couple of minutes of prep and 11 minutes of cooking/standing.

Microwave "Roasted" Potatoes
(serves 3-4)

Though the recipe calls for oregano, it's just as good with other dried herbs such as thyme, basil or rosemary. Make sure to crush them to release their fragrant oils.

2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Russet potatoes, washed, unpeeled and cut into 1/4" thick slices
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in your palm

Put garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 2 quart microwaveable casserole. Microwave 1 minute, serving once. Stir in potatoes. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes, stir. Re-cover and cook on high for another 4 minutes, until centers are just tender. Let stand, covered, for 3 minutes.

Stir in salt, pepper, and oregano. Serve.

Tip: It's easier to stir the potatoes if you keep most of them on end rather than laying them flat.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Curried Chicken Salad

This recipe is a riff on Thai Curried Fried Rice. That classic Thai restaurant preparation uses Indian curry powder (not Thai curry paste) and pineapple. Curry goes great with the chicken and fruit in the salad.

This recipe also gives us the opportunity to introduce the extremely useful technique of cooking chicken in a microwave. You can get pre-cooked chicken in most supermarkets, but it is quick and easy to cook it for yourself. It’s cheaper and you know the chicken isn’t “enhanced” with lots of salt and preservatives.

Curried Chicken Salad
Makes 2 servings

1½ cups chopped chilled cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
½ cup halved seedless red grapes
½ cup diced apple
2 Tablespoon diced pineapple (canned is fine)
1 Tablespoon raisins (or one small kid’s box)
3 Tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tsp honey
½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon lemon juice
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon sliced or slivered almonds, toasted at 300 F° for 5 minutes and cooled

Combine first 5 ingredients (chicken through raisins) in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) stirring with a whisk.  Pour mayonnaise mixture over chicken mixture, toss gently to coat.  Sprinkle with almonds.  The amounts are approximate, so use as much or as little as you like.  And, getting the fruit and chicken at a salad bar is a great way to get just as much as you need.

To microwave chicken:  Put chicken in a glass dish and cover with plastic wrap, leaving a corner open to let out the steam. Cook on high power. The time depends on the size of the chicken breast.
·      4-6 minutes for 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
·      7-9 minutes for 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
·      10-12 minutes for 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Turn it 180 degrees halfway through cooking.  After cooking, let stand 5 minutes before removing the plastic wrap. Open the wrap away from you so you don’t burn yourself with the steam. Cut chicken to check that the chicken is cooked all the way through. Times here assume a high-powered microwave; your mileage may vary. Season cooked chicken with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Chill before using in salad.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Welcome to the School of Eating Good blog. We want you to cook. We want you to have fun cooking. We want you to find information here that helps you become a better cook, even if you don't know a darn thing about cooking right now.

You will find tips and tricks. You will find recipes that are tasty and tested by us, so after you are done you will say "that is really good!" rather than "will my dog even eat this?" You will find recommendations on equipment and information on ingredients. Not everything here will be for the rank amateur cook, but we'll be sure to let you know what skills and equipment you'll need to pull off a recipe. Even though we've been cooking for a really long time, we've been there. No one likes a recipe full of nasty surprises.

So keep coming back for more interesting, useful, and sometimes slightly silly information on food and cooking.

Beef and Bean Burrito Filling

This is an all-purpose inexpensive filling/dip/topping. It's quick and easy too.

Beef and Bean Filling/Dip
(makes 6-8 servings)

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped OR 1 4 oz can chopped green chiles
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 16 oz can refried beans with green chiles
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or use Monterey jack or Colby cheese)

In a large skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat until beef is starting to brown. Add onion and green pepper and cook another few minutes until onions soften.

Stir in chili powder, salt, black pepper, tomato sauce, and refried beans. Mix well and heat through. Remove from the heat and mix in cheese.

Some suggestions for this filling:

Fill a tortilla - add some shredded lettuce, salsa, and more cheese and guacamole.

Top a baked potato and add a little more cheese and sour cream.

Make nachos by topping tortilla chips along with additional cheese, sliced jalapenos, chopped tomatoes.

Hollow out a Kaiser roll and fill. Top with additional cheese.