Archive for the ‘Cooking for one’ Category

I have loved Pizza Hut’s supreme sandwiches ever since I moved to Florida and discovered no one there knew how to make a good po-boy.

I used to eat them for lunch all the time, even when I moved back to Louisiana. (I mean you can only eat so many shrimp po-boys, you know.) And then I moved to Tennessee and had neither.

For some reason, as soon as I crossed the state line, Pizza Hut quit selling sandwiches. I was devastated. No po-boys. No supreme sandwiches. And with the demise of the old Pizza Hut in Thibodaux, I couldn’t even a get a Pizza Hut sandwich when I went back to visit.

So I made my own. Here’s all you need:

Small loaf French bread — 6-8 inches will do
Thinly sliced deli black forest ham
Thinly sliced deli salami (I used Genoa salami)
Thinly sliced deli pepperoni
Sliced provolone cheese
Creamy Italian dressing
Lettuce and sliced tomatoes if you’re into that kind of thing on a sandwich. (I’m not.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Slice the bread lengthways, stopping just before you slice it in two

Open the bread like a book with the cut side up on a cookie sheet

Put a slice of ham, then a slice of salami, then a slice of pepperoni on one side (or 2 of each if you want)

Put a slice of provolone (or 2) on the other side

Bake the open sandwich in the oven until the cheese is bubbly (10 minutes or so)

Remove from the oven.

If you must, this is the time to put the rabbit food on.

Drizzle Italian dressing on the sandwich and then close it.

Cut in two. Serve with a  cold beverage and potato chips (Ruffles is what Pizza Hut used).

Adapted from a July 2011 Facebook note

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I’ve never liked tuna salad.

There was something about its fishiness that just never really appealed to me when I was growing up.

I felt the same about chicken salad, but in that case, it was the dish’s blandness that never got me past the mushy texture enough to like it.

Plus, I’m not a fan of raw onion or celery and both dishes seem to always incorporate them.

My mom tried. Friends have tried. My ex wife tried. I just never cared for either type of sandwich.

Until the day of my mom’s funeral, when I bit into one of my cousin Jeannie’s chicken salad sandwiches by accident, thinking that it was an egg salad sandwich instead.

It was heavenly. I ate several sandwich halves. It incorporated chopped egg and egg salad is one of my favorite sandwiches. (The first I learned to make.)

Jeannie has fed many a church function with her chicken salad sandwiches, using an industrial sized recipe that involves a food processor, a whole chicken (deboned), a dozen boiled eggs, almost a whole jar of mayonnaise and a variety of other ingredients that include bell pepper, green onions and pickles.

Her recipe makes 35 sandwiches. I haven’t tried it yet.

I was watching “Chef at Home” on the Ion channel the other day and chef Michael Smith made tuna salad sandwiches using canned tuna, which got me to thinking: What would Jeannie’s chicken salad taste like with tuna.

I like sashimi tuna and tuna sushi, so why not give canned tuna a try again? I picked up a couple of cans of white tuna packed in olive oil, thinking that olive oil has to be better for you than briny water.

I experimented on Saturday and today. I may be on to something.

1 can of white chunky tuna in oil, drained and pulled apart with a fork

2 boiled eggs, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of sweet or dill pickle relish

black pepper to taste

a few shakes of onion powder

a couple of shakes of paprika

a pinch of cayenne pepper powder

Mix the eggs, tuna, mayonnaise and relish together, then add the seasonings and mix some more.

This will make at least six sandwiches. I halved the recipe on Saturday, but ended up throwing away the extra half can of tuna. (That stuff smells bad in the fridge, even in a sealed bag.)

I’m going to try a variation on this with chicken next time I have leftovers.

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With this being the first holiday since my mom died, I decided a simple Thanksgiving at home alone would do me some good.

Mom’s been gone for a little more than two months. Not being able to call her and talk has been the hardest adjustment since then, especially when it comes to cooking. My mom gave me the confidence to cook when I was young and served as a sounding board whenever I tried cooking something new.

And she made the best homemade noodles you’ll ever eat. I don’t like kneading dough, so I never tried to make her noodles, though when I told her about the Amish store near my property in Charlotte, Tenn., she told me that her family’s noodle recipe came from the Amish and I could probably buy dried noodles there and just cook them in chicken broth to get the same result.

Next time.

This year, I opted for a simple dish I first had when Carolyn’s aunt made it for us one Sunday. Technically, it’s chicken casserole, but it uses stuffing on top, so it smells like Thanksgiving, which is what we always called it.

Here’s the recipe, which came off of a box of Stove Top stuffing about 15 years ago:

  • 1-1/4 cups  hot water
  • 1 pkg.  (6 oz.) Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
  • 1-1/2 lb.  boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can  (10-3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 to 2/3 of the empty soup can filled with milk

Heat oven to 400ºF.

Bring water to boil in a medium sauce pan, add stuffing mix, stir just until moistened, remove from heat and set aside covered for 5 minutes.

Place chicken pieces in 13×9-inch baking dish.

Mix soup and milk in a bowl until blended; pour over chicken.

Top with stuffing.

Bake 30 min. or until chicken is done.

This makes enough to feed 6 people. I haven’t figured out yet how to half the soup, so I have plenty of leftovers.

My candied yams recipe for 2 was adapted from the recipe on the can:

  • 1 15 oz can of Bruce’s yams in syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of syrup from the yams
  • half a stick of butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 pound of crushed toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Open the can of yams and pour 1/3 of a cup of the syrup into a measuring cup, discard the rest

Mix the syrup, sugar and butter in a small sauce pan and heat until blended

Put the yams in the bottom of a shallow baking dish and pour the syrup mixture over the yams.

Sprinkle the pecans over the top

Cook for 25-30 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Since I had two dished to bake today, I set the thermostat at 375, pulled the yams out after 25 minutes and upped the temperature to 400 for the last 5 minutes for the chicken.

They came out well. I heated up a small can of green beans in chicken broth and made deviled eggs while the other stuff was in the oven. Store bought bread and a slice of pumpkin pie I baked last night made a meal my mom would be proud of.

Happy Thanksgiving

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I thought I’d give it a whirl. Frozen yogurt costs twice as much as refrigerated yogurt, so I said what the heck and bought a tub of Yoplait strawberry and put it in the freezer.

There’s a lot of water in regular yogurt, so the finished product was more like ice milk than ice cream. It’s not bad, though. The texture is crystalline, like when I froze chocolate milk in an effort to make a chocolate popsicle. Not creamy like ice cream, but it still tastes like frozen yogurt. With a slight crunch.

I moved it to the refridgerator and it’s easier to get out of the tub now. It’s really good with my homemade chocolate syrup on it.

I’ll try Greek yogurt next time since it has less water in it.

I got the idea from Chef John Besh’s new cookbook. He cut up some fruit, put half of it in a blender with plain yogurt. Then he mixed the remaining fruit with the pureed yogurt-fruit mixture and put it in popsicle molds for freezing.

I don’t have popsicle molds, or fresh fruit for that matter, so I bought strawberry Yoplait in a tub. Next time, I’ll get vanilla Greek yogurt in a tub. One of these days I’ll get a blender and popsicle molds, maybe even some fresh fruit. But I hate fruit flies and that’s another blog post.


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Homemade chocolate syrup

One of the things I’m doing as I build a simpler life, is eating healthier. Given, what’s healthier for me might not be the same as healthy to other folks. But one of my favorite drinks at breakfast is chocolate milk. I’m not a big drinker of plain milk. In fact, I won’t drink plain milk unless I’m at someone’s house and I don’t want to look like an idiot when they hand me a glass.

My love for chocolate milk was tempered by the knowledge that my favorite chocolate syrup is made with high fructose corn syrup. Lots has been written about the negative health effects of corn syrup. Much has been written on the negative affects of sugar. But if God really wanted me to eat high fructose corn syrup, he would have plopped me down in a corn field instead of the sugar cane fields I grew up among just west of Thibodaux, La.

So I’m always looking for ways to replace corn syrup with sugar or cane syrup.

I was really happy to see Anne Parr post a link on Facebook to a blog that had a chocolate syrup with sugar recipe.

I tried it tonight and it is really good. I base this on the residue left on the spoon. I can’t wait to try some with cinnamon rolls at breakfast tomorrow.

All you need is sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, water, salt and vanilla extract. My next batch, I’ll use Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey instead of vanilla extract just ’cause I want to.

The finished product

Here’s a quick synopsis of the recipe:

  • Whisk together 1 1/4 cups of sugar and a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to remove any clumps.
  • Add 1 cup of water, stir well and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Stir frequently. (Use a spoon instead of a whisk, though. The whisk brings air into the mix.)
  • Once it starts to boil, reduce to medium low heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly, while still stirring. Take from heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, add in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Stir well. Bottle and refrigerate.

I’m not sure of the liquid volume, but it filled a Smucker’s natural 16-ounce glass peanut butter jar. (You won’t catch me putting hot stuff in plastic … )

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Made a quick bruschetta dinner using tomatoes and parsley from my dad’s garden in Louisiana with some garlic I had on hand and French bread I brought back from Louisiana yesterday. Makes me want to get my property quicker so that I can plant tomatoes next spring.

Here’s all it took:

Diced 2 tomatoes and 2 cloves of garlic, chopped a fist full of parsley, added a little sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, drizzled in some olive oil, mixed them all together and let sit for 5-10 minutes, while I toasted 6 French bread slices with olive oil brushed on them. Top after the bread cooled for a few minutes.

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I’m a day late getting this done, but I celebrated Cinco de Mayo with a jambon quesadilla with pickled jalapenos. I got the idea from Pati Jinich, host of Pati’s Mexican Table on PBS. Her show follows America’s Test Kitchen on the Nashville PBS station at 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. I was just starting to think about fixing lunch when her episode on Quesadillas came on.

Ham and Cheese Quesadillas

She described quesadillas in terms I could understand, likening it to grilled cheese sandwiches in the U.S. The whole show is dedicated to a variety of different quesadillas. And although she noted the name comes from a combination of the Spanish word for cheese and tortilla, they don’t always have to have cheese in them.

The first one she made was called Ham and Cheese Sincronizadas with Flour Tortillas. The name is a lot more complex than it sounds. It’s ham and cheese on two flour tortillas. I could do that. So I did.

  • Spread a little oil (I used canola) on a skillet (I have a cast iron griddle) over medium heat
  • Place one flour tortilla on the griddle, then spread shredded cheese (I used pepper jack) in a thin layer over the tortilla
  • Top with ham. Since I was working with small tortillas, one slice of ham covered it.
  • As lagniappe, I added some pickled jalapenos between the cheese and ham.
  • Cover with the second tortilla.
  • When the bottom tortilla gets golden brown on the bottom, flip the quesadilla and brown the other tortilla. The cheese should be bubbling when you’re done. (Don’t use low-fat or no-fat cheese, though. It doesn’t melt well.)
  • After that, you can cut it in half, quarters or eat it whole.

No mustard. No mayonnaise. Best ham and cheese sandwich I’ve had in a while.

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This is an adaptation of lobster rolls, one of my favorite New England foods, using crawfish, my all-time favorite food, which is reaching its peak this time of year. You could call this crawfish salad, but doing so ignores the importance that the roll plays in this tasty sandwich. This recipe works with shrimp, too. Halve the ingredients to make for one person.

Crawfish rolls


1 pound of cooked and peeled crawfish tails, cooled
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
juice from 1 lemon
Cajun or Creole seasoning (I like Tony Chacherie’s) to taste
pinch of Cayenne pepper
4 hot dog buns (New England style split top are preferred)
butter or margarine

Coarsely chop the crawfish tails and then liberally sprinkle Creole seasoning. Put the crawfish in a medium mixing bowl and add the cayenne. Mix in the lemon juice and mayonnaise using a fork until all of the crawfish is coated. Cover and chill at least an hour in the refrigerator. (Overnight is OK too).

The rolls:
You really need to have New England style hot dog buns to get the best taste for this. If none are available, you can lightly trim the crust off the top and bottom so that they can be buttered. Heat a large skillet and grill the outside of the closed buns as you would a grilled-cheese sandwich.

Once the buns are done, split them open and fill liberally with the crawfish mixture. Serve with Zappe’s potato chips. One roll is a snack, two makes a meal.

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Part of my new, simpler life involves cooking for just me. It’s not that cooking was all that hard before, it’s just that I rarely got the chance to cook during my marriage. My former wife is a great cook and she prepared sumptuous meals and when she was finished there’d be enough leftovers to feed us for a week. Which is fine if you like leftovers. I don’t, though.

So this is the first in an occasional series of recipes geared to feeding one or two people. I call this one simple noodle soup because it’s simply noodles and broth with pepper for seasoning. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare.

You could just open a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, which I am known to do from time to time. But I always pick out the chicken meat because I’m a litle leery of what part of the chicken they came from. And if you do the math, a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup has more than the daily suggested maximum for sodium in your diet.

Simple Noodle Soup

Simple Noodle Soup ingredients

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup fine egg noodles

Fresh ground pepper

Pour broth into small saucepan, pepper to your liking, and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Add the dried noodles, stir occasionally until noodles are cooked, about 7 minutes.

That’s it. 120 calories, 870 mg sodium. 2 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein.

Soup's on

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