Feel Good Food for Difficult Times

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How do you write a cooking column in uncertain times? It is difficult, at best. I have no idea if my readers have altered their shopping habits since the Corona virus entered the scene and I am not privy to what you have in your kitchens. I don’t know if you have created an emergency stash of canned and frozen foods and hardy perishable vegetables. I put on my thinking cap and decided to offer you some meal suggestions that might apply to the times, using frozen foods, canned goods and simple pantry foods. I am hoping that you will find them not just amusing, but helpful as well and maybe an inspiration for your next shopping trip or delivery. I will provide recipes where needed, and offer suggestions for meals you can put together without a detailed explanation. I look forward to your comments and suggestions during this time of serious social distancing and staying at home. Tell me what you’ve got on hand and I can try to put together a column that provides interesting and tasty ways to put it all together for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

 

Upside Down Frittata

(Delicious and easy recipe for two. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave.)

Ingredients:

½ small to medium onion, diced small

1 C. diced potato (raw or canned), diced small

½ C. green or red pepper (fresh, canned of frozen), diced small

3 large eggs, beaten with a fork

Salt to taste

Cooking oil of your choice

Small pat of butter

Preparation:

In a medium skillet, heat the oil and add the diced onions and diced peppers. Sauté until onions are translucent and the pepper is pierced easily with a fork. Add the potatoes and toss, sprinkling with salt and cooking until they are fork tender. Add extra oil as necessary so ingredients don’t stick. When vegetables are cooked, add the butter, toss and pour beaten eggs over the vegetables. Continue to gently toss the mixture until cooked through. Serve immediately with buttered toast.

If you have spices you can play around with seasonings as you cook. If you like a Mexican twist to this dish, you can add a cup of canned beans (black or pinto) to the vegetables when they are cooking and serve with your favorite hot sauce.

 

Chick Pea Quesadillas

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

1- 15 oz. can chick peas (garbanzos) (Drained – set aside the juice)

Olive or cooking oil

½ onion, diced small

4 flour tortillas

Pinch of salt

1 C. cheddar cheese (large grate)

Pinch of cumin, chili powder or other spice if you have it on hand

1 C. canned yellow or white corn

1 – 15 oz. can chick peas (Garbanzos) (1/2 can, mashed and ½ can left whole); set aside the juice

Preparation:

In a small to medium sauce pan, sauté the onions in oil until translucent. Add the whole chick peas and part of the juice and cook for two or three more minutes. Stir in the corn. Then add the seasonings, salt, and mashed chick peas – incorporating the rest of the juice.

Warm a tortilla in the microwave for 3-4 seconds per side. Place in plate and spread with ¼ of the cooked ingredients over one half of the tortilla. Sprinkle with ¼ of the cheese. Fold over and place in a preheated 350-degree F. oven on a flat cookie sheet while you make the other three. Serve hot out of the oven when all four are ready.

If you have sour cream on hand, add a dollop before serving. Sprinkle with hot sauce to taste. Leftovers can be reheated the next day in the microwave for 6 seconds per side (or until hot). Don’t overheat or the tortillas will get too crisp.

No flour tortillas? Serve on lightly toasted bread, or English muffins. Tastes good and provides protein and flavor.

Beans are by far one of the best foods to add to your emergency stash. You can serve them with rice and canned vegetables, in burritos, as a spread on crackers or toast, in soups or with pasta. Last night I opened a can of crushed tomatoes and made a simple sauce with a little onion, a little green pepper and some garlic. While the sauce was cooking, I added a can of garbanzos (white beans will also work) and let them cook with the sauce. This makes the garbanzos especially tender and adds flavor as well. We served the garbanzo sauce over pasta with frozen broccoli on the side. Canned green beans would make a great side to this dish as well. Have some cheese in the refrigerator? Grate cheese and sprinkle over the hot pasta.

If you are relying on frozen entrees, remember to check the salt content. Many prepared and frozen foods have very high salt content and can dehydrate you. Drink lots of water to balance the increased salt intake.

This is a great time to use your imagination in the kitchen. My mom had a cookbook with recipes from the Depression. I am going to dig it out and see what we can come up with for our next foray into cooking with basic or limited ingredients. Until then, hang in there and keep eating for health. Enjoy!

Emily Mullins can be reached at emilymullins01@gmail.com or 971-888-2339. Send in your contributions and questions. They are always welcome.