Mexican meat-and-potato casserole

(This recipe meets all criteria for a week-night main dish: good, fast, filling, and easy on the budget.)

1 box scalloped or au gratin potatoes, made according to the stovetop directions on the box (you may substitute water for any milk that the directions may call for, and you may omit any butter that is called for, if desired)
Salsa con queso: at least ½ cup; more if desired
Garnish (optional): paprika or colorante, salsa, green onions
1-2 cups cooked meat or poultry cut into ¾-inch cubes and warmed in the microwave

As soon as the potatoes have finished their simmering per the package directions, leave the heat on under the pan and fold in the salsa con queso to blend and warm up to the same temperature as the potatoes. Then fold in the cooked meat or poultry. Place in serving bowl (the more elegant the better) and garnish as desired.

Grilled Salmon

(This is superb. It has Asian influences.)

Salmon: 1 two-pound bag of frozen salmon fillets (Wegman’s has this on sale occasionally) , thawed overnight in the refrigerator

Marinade/basting sauce
2 Tbsp. molasses
1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1-2 Tbsp. peanut or salad oil (optional, but helps keep the salmon from sticking to the grill)
1 clove garlic micro-planed
½ tsp. micro-planed fresh ginger (I buy a piece of fresh ginger, peel it, freeze it whole in a freezer bag, and micro-plane from the frozen piece however much I need)

Place the thawed salmon fillets in a single layer in a dish or plastic container with any liquid from the salmon that is in the package. Mix the remaining ingredients to make enough marinade/basting sauce to coat the salmon top and bottom. Spoon the marinade/sauce over the salmon, lifting up the salmon to let the sauce flow under the salmon. You may refrigerate for several hours or overnight if you have the time; otherwise, let it sit for however much time you have. Grill (or heat in a twelve-inch skillet) over medium heat until the salmon is no longer squishy when you press on the thickest part of each fillet with your finger. Baste with any sauce that may still be in the dish/container; there may not be much. Don’t overcook, because the salmon will fall apart on the grill and will be too dry in texture. Residual heat in the fillet will continue to cook the salmon.

Wilted Lettuce

(This salad uses lettuce, micro-greens sprouts, and green onions from my CSA share. Use balsamic vinegar and real parmesan or Romano cheese. Anything else is boring. And use an extra-large salad bowl in relation to the amount of lettuce you are using to give room to toss.
Leaf lettuce: 1 large head or 2 small heads (washed and dried and torn into bite-size pieces)
Bacon: 4-6 slices (cut into ½ inch dice)
Sprouts, micro-greens or alfalfa: Large handful
Parmesan or Romano cheese, solid chunk grated: at least ¼ cup ((do not use the stuff in the cardboard container with the shaker top; Wegman’s has re-closable packages of grated real parmesan and Romano cheese hanging on pegs in the dairy case that is very good).
Dressing (makes enough for several salads):
Fat from the bacon (mandatory)
Green onions: 4-6 (white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal) or 3-4 Tbsp chopped chives
Sugar: 1 Tbsp
Balsamic vinegar: 1/3 cup (mandatory; don’t substitute any other kind of vinegar; it will be boring)
Water: 1 cup
Ground pepper, freshly ground: ¼ tsp.
Bacon: Fry the bacon in a medium skillet until crisp. Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon onto paper towels.
Dressing: Using the same skillet and keeping all of the fat from the bacon, killet, add green onions if using (if you are using chives, wait), sugar, salt, vinegar, water, and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes. (Don’t boil; you’ll overcook the green onions.) If you are using chives, add them now.
Salad: Put lettuce into extra-large salad bowl. (Use an extra-large bowl to give yourself plenty of room for tossing the salad). Sprinkle on the sprouts (separate them so they are not an intertwined mass) and the bacon. Using a serving spoon, spoon the dressing over the salad 1 spoonful at a time. Using the serving spoon and a serving fork, toss after each spoonful taking care to scoop up the dressing that collects in the bottom as you toss. Stop adding dressing when there are two spoonfuls worth of dressing in the bottom of the bowl after you stop tossing. The point is to coat the salad greens, not drown them. Sprinkle on the Parmesan/Romano cheese and toss, again making sure to scoop up the dressing in the bottom. Serve immediately. Store left-over dressing in the refrigerator and warm it up for your next salad.

My version of Copper Pennies

This uses carrots from my CSA share plus parsley and chives from my herb pots by the back steps.

4 large carrots, pealed and thinly sliced (use Cuisinart 2 mm slicing disc)
Fresh parsley (leaves separated from stems and each chopped separately)
Zesty vinaigrette

In a steamer, stem carrot slices until al dente. Put sliced parsley stems in bottom of mixing bowl and place hot carrots on top. Stir in enough vinaigrette to coat the carrot slices and parsley stem pieces moderately. May be served hot, at room temperature, or cold, but in all cases, stir in more vinaigrette just before serving if the carrots have absorbed the first dose. Garnish with chopped chives.

Note: save the water from the steamer and use in soups, or save in a zipper-locked plastic bag that you keep in the freezer into which you add the water/juice from other vegetables. When the bag is full enough, thaw and use all as vegetable stock in soup.

Galliano-Barbecue-Sauce Polish Sausage

Polish sausage (the Hillshire Farms type)
Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce
Galliano liqueur

Into ½ cup or so of barbecue sauce, mix one tablespoon or so of Galliano liqueur. Cut Polish sausage into three- or four-inch lengths. Then cut each piece lengthwise MOST but NOT all of the way through, and open the sausage like a book so it lies flat cut side up. (For the lengths that are curved, cut both ends all the way through but leave the center portion attached to act as the hinge. Once cut and opened, the length will resemble a butterfly) Brush the cut surfaces of the sausage with the Galliano barbecue sauce mixture. Broil cut side up under the broiler until sizzling. Serve.

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