Category Archives: beyond the basics

Grow Winter Salad Greens: Build A Simple 4 X 4 Raised Garden

4-x-4-gardenby donR September 25. 2006

It may not be too late to start a family garden- the 4 X 4 way.  it’s easy to put together, care for, and makes for a great family project. Read more about how to build the garden  plus two links to helpful growers’ websites:

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5 Reasons Why We Hoard Leftovers, For A While.

tortilla wrap

Planned-overs were used to create this lunch using Re-fried corn bread, summer chicken salad wrapped in tortilla and cottage cheese.

When my daughter, a macro-biotic cooking instructor, visits I’m always curious about the left-overs she has in her brown paper bag. I pretend not to notice but know she has  containers of food-stuffs with which she can create nutritious, simple meals to share with us. She now has me hoarding planned-overs to use in dinners, for snacks or simple lunches, and comfort food. I like having these ingredients readily available.

Should we all be hoarding those bits of food to use while still safe to eat? Here are 5 reasons, guess the one most important to me then pick one important to you and your family. Continue reading

Another $10 Meal: Soba Noodles-the Other Pasta

Fresh Soba noodles are mede from buckwheat; thick, nutty, and comforting.

Fresh Soba noodles are made from buckwheat; thick, nutty, and comforting.

Pasta is a popular choice for Springtime meals; light, spicy, easy to prepare and nutritious if you choose healthier ingredients. We described how to prepare Perfect Pasta in our basic cooking series and today I had a craving for a pasta dinner.  But, to take advantage of the “Hot Sheet Sale” at Cash & Carry, I purchased a 5# bag of fresh Yakisoba noodles ($3.24) along with a 5# bag of shredded cabbage ($2.98), 25# zucchini squash ($14.49) and 14# pk of pork shoulder cushions ($1.15 per pound).

I know…$36.81 is more than the “$10 Meal” in the title but let me share a few of the many meals that can be prepared with these ingredients…see the rest of the story. Continue reading

75 Ways To Healthier Pizza

Carry-out pizzas can contain as much as 700 calories per slice.

Carry-out pizzas can contain as many as 700 calories per slice.

by donR… for one of my past students who smuggled pizza into class every day.

  • Like pizza?
  • Like it more with fewer calories?
  • Love it with less fat?

Here is an article I found that gives ideas for making your own mouth-watering pizza while avoiding the high fat ingredients. Continue reading

Crock-Pot Appetizers; simple, easy, tasty

Make-it-yourself tacos  or wraps is a sure-favorite appetizer,

Make-it-yourself tacos or wraps; simple appetizers.

When hosting a family gathering or football playoff party, appetizers are often the food of choice by our family. By serving appetizers, there is often no need to provide a 3 course meal and guests usually bring snacks and beverages. The end result is that we can spend time visiting because using crock-pots makes cooking easy and clean-up a breeze. Here are some recipes for slow-cooked appetizers.

Pulled Pork Sliders On a previous post I shared how to slow cook a  pork shoulder roast.  Once cooked, the pulled , sliced. or diced.  pork can be used in many recipes. Pork sliders is one option.

Pulled Pork Sliders
A small sandwich with tangy BBQ laced pork filling
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  1. 1 Lb pulled pork roast
  2. 2C catsup
  3. 6 oz tomato paste
  4. 1 finely chopped yellow onion
  5. 1C Brags Aminos
  6. 2T Worcestershire sauce
  7. 2t ground garlic
  8. small potato buns or dinner rolls
  1. 1. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. 2. Bring to a slow boil over med heat then simmer over low heat for 4 hours or until sauce thickens and flavors blend.
  3. 3. Combine with pulled pork to heat.
  4. 4, Serve it over the rolls
Family Meals Project
Party Cereal Snack Mix    Make your own snack mix at half the cost and you  choose the ingredients. We made some for the crock-pot meals class and I preferred to omit the artificial cheese crackers and expensive cashews.

Slow Cooked Cereal Snack Mix
Serves 8
Worcestershire sauce is a key ingredient to make this snack mix full of interesting flavors.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
  1. Party Chex Mix
  2. Ingredients
  3. 2 cups bagel bits
  4. 1 C pretzels
  5. 3 cups rice cereal squares
  6. 3 cups wheat cereal squares
  7. 3 cups corn cereal squares
  8. 2 cups salted almonds (optional)
  9. 4 T soy sauce
  10. 4 T Worcestershire sauce
  11. 1/2 C virgin olive oil (or peanut oil)
  12. 1 stick unsalted butter
  13. 6 - 10 cloves minced garlic
  14. 2 T powdered onion
  15. Makes: 10 cups
  1. Instructions
  2. 1. Place the cereal, pretzels, bagel bits and almonds (if included) in a large slow cooker and turn the cooker to low heat.
  3. 2. In a sauce pan mix together the remaining ingredients and simmer it over low heat until the garlic releases its flavor. Pour it over the crackers in the slow cooker. Mix well.
  4. 3. Cook for about 3 to 4 hours uncovered, stirring every 30 minutes or so, until the mix has dried but has not burned.
  1. I avoided the cheesy crackers because of added dyes and artificial flavorings.
Adapted from Beverly Cayce
Adapted from Beverly Cayce
Family Meals Project
 Slow-Cooked Asian Chicken Thighs   This appetizer is by far the best choice if you want great taste, low cost meat, and enjoy creating food that  is unique. .

Chicken hind quarters are usually the best buy in the frozen meat department at $0.79 for a ten lb. bag. After thawing, the legs can be removed for another meal and the thighs deboned for this recipe. If you don’t have time to fillet the thighs, ask your grocer to debone a value pack of fresh chicken thighs.

Asian Chicken Thighs
Yields 2
Skewered chicken with a pineapple teriyaki flavor.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
  1. 2 lbs deboned chicken thighs
  2. 1 C Yashida's marinade
  3. 1 14 oz can of pineapple pieces in natural juice
  4. 2 ground or fresh-grated ginger
  5. large toothpicks or small bamboo skewers
  1. 1. Slice thighs into long narrow strips.
  2. 2 .drain pineapple and reserve juice.
  3. 3. Place chicken into a bag (or covered glass bowl) along with juice, ginger and Yashida's sauce.
  4. 4. Marinate for an hour or overnight.
  5. 5. Preheat slow cooker on high.
  6. 6. Arrange chicken strips and pieces of pineapple onto skewers.
  7. 7. Place in slow cooker and cover with the marinating liquid.
  8. 8. Cook on high for 30 min then reduce heat to low for about 3 hours.
  9. 9. When chicken reaches 165 degrees it is ready to serve out of the pot or n a bed of hot Oriental rice.
  1. *Give the butcher a day's lead time to debone the fresh thighs
  2. ++Make a double batch and save some for a stir-fried meal later
Adapted from The Skow Cooker Bible
Adapted from The Skow Cooker Bible
Family Meals Project













Pork Shoulder: Economical, Delicious and Healthy


One Small Food Bank Chicken=Three Meals


Kids Love It: Nutrient-Rich Waffles

Buckwheat wafflles with flax seeds and whipping cream are a healthier choice for      breakfast.

Kids love buckwheat waffles with flax seeds and whipping cream for breakfast.

Here’s a Master Mix Recipe that kids will love even though it is very nutritious. The secret ingredients are ground flax seed, whole wheat and buckwheat flour But,  there is an interesting back story about the flax  seed. Continue reading

It’s Crab Season: 5 Tips & Tricks For Better Crab

The Dungeness crab is delicious if cooked with care. Here are 5 tips to think about.

Dungeness crab is delicious if handled with care. Caution! Avoid crab caught in bays contaminated with heavy metals.

It’s crab season in the Pacific Northwest and time to get those pots in the water. No pots? Not to worry, because you can take your pitchfork to your favorite bay and find crabs hiding in shallow water as the tide goes out. Be sure to purchase a license and follow the crabbing rules.

If you have access to a boat you can make a crab ring and actually fish for crabs in shallow water or set pots out in deep water to pick up later. Continue reading

Master Biscuit Mix: Pancake Roll-ups

fruit pancakes

Master biscuit mix with added eggs makes a fluffy crepe-like dessert

Our master biscuit mix can be used in many ways for breakfast lunch or dinner. Previously we gave you two recipes; one like Bisquick® and one that is gluten-free. You can use either master mix, fruit and yogurt to make breakfast or dessert that the kids will love. The twist to this recipe is that it is more like a crepe than pancake. Bon Appetite!

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Almost free Skillet Meal: Penne Hodgepodge

"Hodgepodge" is a jumbled mixture. Find stuff in the fridge, cook it in a skillet and you have a free hodgepodge meal.

“Hodgepodge” is a jumbled mixture. Find stuff in the fridge, cook it in a skillet and you have a free hodgepodge meal.

I liked cleaning out the fridge and freezer so much, I checked the fridge again this week. Yes, it was difficult to decide which older food be sent to the compost pile, but I erred on the safe side because it is “Better safe than sick.” On the bright side, I found more stuff to eat: 3 cups of cooked penne whole wheat pasta, wilting celery, older mushrooms and 1 Roma tomato.  Perfect!

So I placed my “free” hodgepodge of leftovers on the counter, added a can of Cream Of Celery Soup, 2 green onions from the garden and 1/2 pound of range-fed lean ground beef. and proceeded to assemble a hodgepodge penne noodle skillet meal. 

Hodgepodge was defined eons ago as a thick European stew. Now it has a broader meaning like “jumbled mixture” “mixed bag,” or ” assortment”. I think this skillet meal qualifies as being hodgepodge.

To make the one skillet meal:

  1. Heat 3 T oil in a large skillet and brown the ground beef. Remove the fatty drippings.
  2. Add 1 1/2 C chopped celery, 1/2 C sliced mushrooms and chopped green onions to the hamburger.
  3. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and 2 T powdered onion and garlic
  4. Reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer for 20 min until celery is tender-crisp.
  5. In a bowl, mix the chopped tomato and its juice, celery soup, and 1./2 C water and add it to the skillet.
  6. Rinse the penne noodles with hot water and add it to the skillet.
  7. Simmer until the mixture reached 160 degrees F and serve with salad and fruit.

Note: A home-made white sauce is better than a can of soup but I  wanted to speed this up.





Why Not Have Breakfast For Dinner?

Breakfast Dinner   By Don R

picture of waffle

Waffles can be served with nutritious fruit and veggie smoothies for dinner.

When making your weekly or monthly meal plans, it makes sense to include a couple of breakfast meals. Serving breakfast does not mean it needs to include greasy meat or processed cereals. there are other options that you can consider. Our children loved the idea of cooking breakfast for dinner and were eager to help. Here a few reasons why: Continue reading