"Piehole" in Midwestern means "mouth," as in "Shut your piehole." Preferably we shut it on some tasty home cooking. We love to grow, market, buy, cook, bake and grill so we can feed our faces, chow down, pig out, scarf & whatnot. I'm a born Midwestern home cook posting foods and recipes that show up in front of me, because like all Midwesterners I eat what's put in front of me. Pull up a chair. What can I get you?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

From Fresh Sage to Dried in 90 Seconds

My sage bush needed harvesting. I bundled several branches and hung them upside down for drying. On a whim I put leftover sage leaves in a single layer on a plate and microwaved them to see what would happen. In 90 seconds they were completely dry and -- big surprise -- they held their green color far better than the air-dried sage. Compare!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Shrimp and Grits: Recipe

It's simple: Saute onion, bell peppers, tomatoes and shrimp, and serve on a bed of cheese grits! I personally developed the grits recipe because the box doesn't give a microwave recipe for more than 1 serving. You will love sharing your shrimp & grits.

Cheese Grits Cooked in the Microwave (serves 4)

3 cups water
3/4 cup grits ("quick cooking," not instant)
hunk of butter (maybe 2 Tablespoons)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Pour the water into a 2-quart microwavable dish and heat it on High about 7 minutes until the water boils. Carefully pour in the grits (the water will foam up) and stir. Cook on High for 5 more minutes. Remove from microwave and stir to make sure no lumps remain. Stir in the hunk of butter and cup of shredded cheese until they melt.

Shrimp for Grits
(serves 4)

1 Tablespoon safflower or vegetable oil
1/2 pound of medium shrimp, raw, with shells off; thawed if frozen
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large bell pepper (any color), chopped
1/2 can of diced tomatoes (too much will overwhelm the shrimp)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt, to taste (not too heavily; remember the grits have cheese in them)
ground black pepper
hot sauce, to taste

Heat the oil in a pan; saute the onion and the garlic for 3 minutes. Add the pepper and saute for another minute or so. Add the dried thyme and the tomatoes and black pepper. When vegetable mixture is hot and bubbling, pour in the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are pink, stirring occasionally, for a maximum of 5 minutes. Do not overcook the shrimp. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. Serve over grits.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Truly Delicious Lower-Fat Mac and Cheese: Recipe

I didn't think this recipe would be easy and company-good, but it is, with the crunch and goo we love. Baked mac and cheese/That won't clog my arteries/ is all I want for the holidays. From Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (1996). Wish I'd made it then, but better now than never.

Macaroni and Cheese (serves 4 generously)

1-1/2 cups 1% milkfat cottage cheese
1-1/2 cups skim milk or buttermilk
1 teaspoon dried mustard or 1 Tablespoon prepared mustard
pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated onion (you do need it, for the savor)
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs (Piehole used "Panko" crumbs (pictured), now readily available at the supermarket)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9- or 10-inch square baking pan with a light coating of cooking spray or oil.

In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, skim mik or buttermilk, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. In a large bowl combine the pureed mixture with the onions, Cheddar cheese and uncooked macaroni. Stir well. Pour the macaroni and cheese mixture into the baking pan. Combine the grated Parmesan or Romano cheese with the bread crumbs and sprinkle over the top. (And after that, the Piehole scatters a few butter curls on the top, for a nice browned top.)

Bake about 45 minutes until the top is browned and the center is firm. Per 10-ounce serving (that's a lot of mac and cheese!), 471 calories, 38 mg cholesterol.

Trying to reduce white-flour carbohydrates, I used brown-rice pasta elbows, precooking them; they worked great. Brown-rice pasta can take a lot of overcooking. And Panko breadcrumbs stay crisp and crusty.

Thank you, Moosewood.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Solstice Holiday Cookies

This holiday season, mix up some gingerbread cookies and delight those among your friends who wish you a happy Winter Solstice, with Astro-Cookies decorated with zodiac signs. These are made from Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix. Honestly, they are very very tasty.