Thursday, August 12, 2010

Keep it Simple

I found this recipe by accident and it reminded me that simple recipes are often the most satisfying.  I don't want to be chained to a list of hard-to-find ingredients, including spices as exotic as eye of newt that are expensive and rarely used.  Give me recipes for dishes that are:
          •  easy to put together with ingredients on hand
          •   don't take too long to cook
          •   consistently deliver a delicious end result
This recipe is found all over the internet in different versions.  My adaptation does not call for Italian sausage since my dining companion does not care for it.

Sausage and Potatoes

     1 pound package beef link sausage
     1 onion, diced
     4-5 potatoes, peeled and diced
     1/2 cup water

Cut meat into thick, coin-shaped pieces. Put all ingredients in casserole, season, cover, and bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half.  Uncover the last 15 minutes to brown.  Add a diced bell pepper or a small jar of pimento peppers before baking if desired.  Can season with red pepper, Italian herbs, garlic salt, Cajun seasonings, cumin, etc.

It's Too Darn Hot

When the temperature is into triple digits, the thought of turning on an oven for any reason seems unthinkable to some.  What to do? Sandwiches are a logical choice, but what kind?  If you haven't tried chicken salad the following way, you'll enjoy discovering how this simple addition complements it very well.  Don't let the lack of precise amounts throw you, taste and adjust as you put it together.

Chicken Salad with Tarragon

     Cooked chicken, skinned and deboned
     Mayonnaise or salad dressing like Miracle Whip
     1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried tarragon (or about a tablespoon of fresh, finely chopped)

Combine and serve with the best bread you can find.  I sometimes brush kaiser rolls with olive oil and sprinkle them with garlic powder, toasting them on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until lightly browned. The best way to prepare chicken for this is in a slow cooker while you're at work, or you can just boil a couple of chicken breasts with water to cover until they are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Keep in mind the tarragon has a slightly sweet flavor to it when you are choosing your salad dressing.  You can dress this salad up with grapes, almonds or pecans, Granny Smith apple chunks,  etc., but simple is best.  Really, when the temperature is triple digits, recipes don't need to have more than three ingredients.

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