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Make Pickles in Your Refrigerator – It’s Easy

by Jane Wangersky July 17th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
fridge picklesAs I’ve mentioned before, I’m (maybe a little too) wary of trying to can or preserve anything at home, which is why the only jam I make is the freezer kind. I’ve been doing this for years, but until recently I wasn’t really aware that freezer jam had a counterpart: refrigerator pickles. (I had noticed that when I marinated cooked beets in vinegar and spices, they seemed to keep for weeks in the fridge -- these pickles are made in somewhat the same way.)

Though I’m not as crazy about pickles as I was in my teens, they’re still one
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Make Your Own Jam With Gelatin – And No Sugar

by Jane Wangersky July 10th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
jamjarThough I'm usually a DIY kind of home cook, I don't make my own jam -- much. There's a fear of spoilage that seems to run in my family and keep me from wanting to can anything for winter. Still, nearly every summer, around the time when the raspberries get plentiful in the backyard, I make a batch or two of freezer jam. If you're not familiar with this, it's just what it sounds like -- if you plan on keeping the jam more than about a week, it'll have to go into the freezer. Like almost any homemade
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Salsa Aspic: Hot and Cool

by Jane Wangersky July 3rd, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
aspicYou might think of this as really thick salsa. Or maybe as Jello for the main course. Or as something like cranberry sauce -- it’s made of fruit (tomatoes are fruit), it’s jellied, and it’s meant to be served along with meat or another main dish. However you look it at, this side dish is perfect for dinner on a hot night, packing both coolness and spice.

Aspic has been largely unknown for years -- a friend nearly as old as me had never heard of it -- but I’m not sure why. Maybe the availability of instant gelatin desserts
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Asian Asparagus Salad — With A Touch of Sushi

by Jane Wangersky June 26th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
nori saladIt's asparagus season -- it must be, the stuff was half price the last time I went grocery shopping. Though asparagus certainly isn't the first vegetable I think of when I've got a salad to make, it's what we had this week, so it's what I went with. All I needed was some new, slightly unusual ingredient to pair it with.

On the Internet I found a recipe for appetizers made of asparagus wrapped in nori -- the sheets of roasted seaweed used for making sushi. The recipe also called for salmon, I think. It looked good, but I wasn't
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Ham and Cheese Salad

by Jane Wangersky June 19th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
ham saladWith a salad to invent and a lot of ham and cheese in my fridge, I began wondering why we’ve come up with ham and cheese, ham salad, but not ham and cheese salad. Well, as it turns out, many people have had that same thought, judging by the number of ham and cheese salad recipes you can find with a quick Google search. But my version is extra simple, and, unlike others, has no vegetables to put off the kids.

Ingredients:

1 cup diced (¼ inch) cooked smoked ham*
2 tbsp mayonnaise
½ tsp dry mustard (or to taste; my tester said
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Beets Stuffed with Cucumber Salad

by Jane Wangersky June 12th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
beet cuke saladBeets, like revenge, are best served cold, which means, like revenge, they take some planning. This beet dish is no exception, but once you’ve got your cold, cooked beet(s) at hand, it really doesn’t take much time or work. Yet it still looks pretty enough to be special. It also combines some of the elements of borscht -- mostly beets, set off by cucumbers and sour cream -- in salad form. Last but not least, it makes a nice change from pickled beets, while calling for way fewer ingredients.

Speaking of which . . .

Ingredients (for one serving, multiply as
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Monterey Olive Salad

by Jane Wangersky June 5th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
monterey saladI really meant to take a genuine New Orleans muffaletta to the potluck the other night, but, well, stuff happened, and I ran out of time to make the olive salad. Muffalettas and olive salad are a story in themselves, one that I may get around to one day. This time, however, I ended up just making a great big ham, cheese, and salami sandwich out of a round loaf split horizontally. It was fine, people ate most of it -- and the next day I had a whole jar of olives to play with.

They were, fittingly enough, salad
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Toaster Oven Pancake for One

by Jane Wangersky May 22nd, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
pancake-100735_640Let’s start with a confession from me: I’ve never mastered cooking pancakes. Oh, I tried, for a while, years ago. But I always poured the batter too thick or let the pan get too hot, and the only way I could make the pancakes round was by using a mold I'd made by cutting the top and bottom off a tuna can. And then I married someone who was just fine at cooking pancakes to perfection, so we eventually divided the work: I’d mix up the batter, he’d work the pan. We’re still doing it that way.

So I don’t
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Barbecue French Toast

by Jane Wangersky May 15th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
file561253238589French toast, despite the name, exists in some form in every country where people ever had any leftover bread that was beginning to get stale -- in other words, every country in the world. In France, it's called pain perdu or lost/wasted bread, though it's more like bread that's  been saved from being lost or wasted. It's a good dish not only for using up excess bread, but for disguising breakfast eggs for the benefit of people who don't want to look them in the face first thing in the morning.

We usually think  of French toast as sweet, to
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Quick and Easy Hash Browns

by Jane Wangersky May 8th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
file000366468121Potatoes for breakfast? It’s understandable if you hadn’t realized that fast-food hash browns were supposed to be made of potatoes. By the time they get to the customer, the potatoes have been mangled beyond recognition. Notice I don’t say they don’t taste good. But you can make something just as crispy and delicious at home in a few minutes.

Notice that I don’t say, either, that homemade hash browns are very good for you -- but they’re a lot closer to the natural state of the ingredients. You won’t be able to shape them into neat little patties like the
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Quick Hot Breakfasts

by Jane Wangersky May 2nd, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
fried-eggs-74335_640Though there are plenty of reasons not to eat cereal for breakfast -- many cereals are starchy, sugary, and full of chemicals -- what probably decides most people in favor of it is the sheer convenience. Pour it in, pour in the milk, that's it.

But by taking just a few more minutes, you can make yourself a hot breakfast with a lot less sugar and more fresh ingredients. (Notice I'm not saying it's low fat or high fiber, but you can't have everything, at least not at breakfast time.) What's more, you can do it with foods you most
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Almost Tartar Sauce

by Jane Wangersky April 25th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions, Spreads & Sauces
fried-fish-287136_640Tartar sauce is one of those sauces whose names give you no idea what's in them; for the record, it contains no cream of tartar. Most people have no idea what's in it, but most people expect to see it on the table, or in a little packet on their fast food tray, when fish is served. So it's a good thing to have around, but what exactly is it?

Tartar sauce is based on mayonnaise, another wildly popular sauce with an uninformative name. (There are different stories about where the name came from; anyway, mayonnaise is made of egg
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