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Quick Beef Stroganoff — From Scratch

by Jane Wangersky October 23rd, 2014| Simple Solutions
file4531272158954Beef Stroganoff has taken lots of different forms over the past 150 years since the recipe was first published. The only constants have been -- obviously -- the beef (cubes, strips, even ground beef) and sour cream, whether just a little or a lot. Those are the two tastes everyone expects from a dish by this name.

Though you can make quick versions of beef Stroganoff from mushroom soup, or even, ahem, Hamburger Helper, this recipe is just as quick and much shorter on processed ingredients. (Yes, it uses powdered beef bouillon. If that bothers you, try using a few
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Lemon Pepper Tuna Cakes

by Jane Wangersky October 16th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
file00041689699Canned tuna has a lowbrow reputation -- we think it's good mainly for quick lunches, especially to take to work or school, or maybe retro casseroles swimming in canned soup. But if you read Tin Fish Gourmet by Barbara-Jo McIntosh, you’ll see that tuna and other canned fish has way more potential. Here’s a simple dish I’ve been making for years; it varies according to what I’ve got in the house, but this version makes a nice end-of-summer supper.

If you like crab cakes, these are much more affordable. If you’re secretly craving something at the other end of the
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Essential Chili: The 4 Things You Really Need

by Jane Wangersky October 9th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
chiliI’ve got several time-honored, long-cooking, big-batch chili recipes that use chunks of beef and about 10 kinds of spices. This isn’t one of them. But it’s quick and easy, it tastes good, and you can build on it till it’s almost like one of those more ambitious chilis.

Keeping it to four ingredients, I had to find the essence of chili. Having lived in Texas, I know some people will take issue with that essence containing beans rather than meat. If you feel this way, hey, use meat instead -- I’ll talk about that and other variations in just a
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Simple Spicy Meat Loaf

by Jane Wangersky October 2nd, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
meat loafLast spring, I wrote that everyone and his dog had their own ideas of what made a good meat loaf. My own family has several different ideas, and today I’m going to share one of them.

Early fall can be a tricky time to plan meals. You never know whether it’s going to be a burgers-in-the-backyard kind of day or a meat-roasting-in-the-oven kind of day. Plan on this dish and you’ll be ready for either. If it turns out warm and sunny, you can just buy some hamburger buns, make a salad, and grill the sausage patties on
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Mockaletta: A Stripped-Down Classic

by Jane Wangersky September 25th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
paninis-and-sandwichesA real muffaletta is one of those rare dishes whose taste is somehow way more than the combination of the tastes of the ingredients. I realized this the first time I tasted one in a little cafe in New Orleans, on my one visit there many years ago. Since that trip, I’ve got out my Cajun-Creole cookbook and made my own muffaletta from time to time, usually when I had to take something to a potluck. It’s been worth it -- those few times.

What exactly goes into a muffaletta? (Which you’ll see spelled countless different ways.) You start with
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Bacon and Cheese Bread

by Jane Wangersky September 18th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
bnc breadThe dinner just before shopping day can get a little strange. Sometimes it’s just a clear-out of the fridge, with everyone eating something different. Other times I manage to pull together what little food’s left in the house. This was one of those times.

The only meat left in the house, besides a stewing chicken that would take a long period of slow cooking to become edible, was a package of bacon I’d forgotten about till then. There was still time to mix dough in the bread machine for home baked bread, which would go a long way toward making
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Red Pepper and Cheese Sandwich

by Jane Wangersky September 11th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
pepper cheese sandwichPeople have been eating bread and cheese since way before the word “sandwich” started being used for it, so the cheese sandwich is a real classic. Sometimes, however, you want something more than a simple classic taste in your lunch -- let’s face it, even the classics can get boring with repetition. So it’s natural to look around for something that might add a little more taste and texture to your sandwich. Red peppers are one ingredient that have traditionally been paired with cheese, as in pimento cheese.

Growing up in the North, I was only aware of pimento cheese
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Bacon and Egg Salad Sandwich

by Jane Wangersky September 4th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
bacon n egg sandwichSeptember is time to think about school lunches and their classic main dish, the sandwich. (At least, it is if your kids' school is opening up on schedule, not staying closed because of a strike -- but in that case, your kids can always try selling sandwiches to the people on the picket lines. That should be educational.) Anyway, September is a time both to revisit classic sandwiches, like peanut butter and jelly, and experiment with new ones. Here's a new one you might like to try.

Bacon and eggs go together, of course -- bacon and fried eggs, anyway.
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Recipes for Apples of All Sizes

by Jane Wangersky August 28th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat’s local right now? What isn’t? The service that delivers produce to us is even showing locally grown okra on its site. That used to be unheard of north of the Mason-Dixon line, let alone the 49th parallel. For a few brief weeks, all sorts of fruits and vegetables are local.

Most local of all are the apples falling off the tree in our backyard. They’re green, not because they’re unripe, but because they’re Gravensteins. Luther Burbank – "The Wizard of Horticulture" -- once said, "It has often been said that if the Gravenstein could be had throughout the year,
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Blueberry Ginger Salad — Sweet and Sour

by Jane Wangersky August 21st, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had five pounds of blueberries in my refrigerator, down from ten pounds a couple of nights before, and I was ready to do something new with them. Some were destined for freezer jam, many would be eaten on cereal or out of hand as snacks, and there were always pie and muffins, at least if the weather cooled off enough. But everyone already knows about all these.

Somewhere online I saw a recipe that called for blueberries combined with fresh ginger in a relish for pork teriyaki. Though I wasn’t sure about serving them at dinner with meat, the
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Chili Roasted Corn on the Cob

by Jane Wangersky August 14th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
grilled cornIt’s not summer for me unless I’ve had corn on the cob. Not that it’s my favorite food or anything -- I don’t eat a lot of it -- it’s just one of those tastes of summer and has been pretty much forever. It also gives me a chance to eat lots of butter and salt. And it’s in season now all over North America.

Garrison Keillor famously said the best way to cook corn was to wait until the water was boiling before you ran out to pick it. You can’t get much more local than that. It’s true
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Mix-in-the-Pan Cherry Crunch

by Jane Wangersky August 7th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
cherry crunchIt’s cherry season around here right now, and I got a good deal on them the other day at the produce store, since I was willing to overlook a few bruised ones. I ate a couple of the unbruised cherries, then stopped, because the inside of my mouth was beginning to feel itchy. It happens every time, so though I like cherries, I can’t really eat them raw. They have to be cooked to destroy whatever it is that causes the reaction in me.

We needed a dessert anyway, so I got to work. First, really wanting to avoid heating
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