Wild Rice Casserole

Tried and true family recipes, the ones that have been made for years and years, are priceless. My favorite recipes are those that have been passed on to me by my late mom.

wildricecasseroleI can’t begin to count how many of them that still grace our dining room table. Some of them were my grandmother’s recipes, such as the one for baked oysters that we have during the holidays. Or her one for pickled beets, which Mom and her family called Grandpa’s pickles, because they always were on the table when her Grandpa Burkhardt lived with them.

There also are a lot that I haven’t tried yet, such as Mom’s recipe for overnight buns, which were a favorite of ours when my brothers and I were growing up.

But it’s not just my mom’s or grandma’s recipes that have a special place in my heart. My Auntie Helen Tiedeman, who was married to my Uncle George, passed on several recipes that I love. Her recipe for barbecues (or Sloppy Joes) that were served at our school hot lunch for year, is among my favorites.

Recently, I tried another of Auntie Helen’s recipea. It’s for Wild Rice Casserole. (She called it dressing.) I made it for our upcoming elk hunting trip to Colorado. It was the first time I made it, but it won’t be the last. It’s really tasty.

Give it a try. I’m sure you’ll love it, too.

Wild Rice Casserole
1 cup wild rice, steamed 3 or 4 times
¾ pound pork sausage, browned
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms
½ green pepper, diced
1 10¾-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon sage
Saute onion and celery. Mix with other ingredients, including juice from mushrooms. Bake 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees and serve.

Pad Thai

There is no shortage of Oriental eateries these days, as people’s appetite for food from that part of the world seems to be growing as fast as the globe’s population.

stirfryAnd for that matter, a lot of cooks have taken up woks and added that genre of cooking to their culinary repertoire. In a lot of households, chopsticks are as common as knives and forks.

That’s the way it is in our house. We often have stir-fry, relying on fresh garden veggies during the summer and a greater selection of produce at supermarkets during the winter months.

One of our favorite dishes is Pad Thai, which until a year or so ago, we had to go out to one of our favorite restaurants to find. Now, Therese has a wonderful take on the entree, which I would put up against that of any eating establishment.

Pad Thai
4 to 6 ounces chicken, seafood or tofu
1 bell pepper, cut into slices
1 zucchini, sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 teaspoons of Maesri Pad Thai sauce (without peanuts)
1 heaping tablespoon of Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 package Thai brand stir-fry rice noodles
3 slices bacon, chopped
½ cup peanuts, chopped
Lime wedges
Precook small pieces of meat, chicken, tofu or seafood and set aside. Stir-fry the vegetables with bacon. Don’t overcook. (Don’t use broccoli or cauliflower.)
Add the Pad Thai, Hoisin and soy sauces along with the vinegar to the cooked vegetables. Add the cooked rice noodles to the pan and stir until they are mixed in and coated with sauce. Serve with chopped peanuts and lime wedges.



Shrimp Gumbo

You don’t have to be in Louisiana to enjoy a good shrimp gumbo, especially if you grow onions, green peppers and okra in your garden.

7-gumboThat’s just what we had the other night after I made a trip to both of my gardens and gathered  a nice green bell, some carrots and tomatoes, a few onions and a couple of handfuls of okra.

Just about every gardener in this neck of the wood has all of the aforementioned vegetables in their garden with maybe the exception of okra. Many probably haven’t even sampled that staple of Cajun-Creole cooking much less grown the slender green pods.

I started growing okra a couple of years ago and have found it to be a nice addition to my garden. Not only do I use it in gumbos, it’s great in jambalaya (another New Orleans delicacy) and some stir-fries.

The recipe that follows called for chicken, but I substituted some nice shrimp and white rice instead of brown rice, and the result was fantastic.

Shrimp Gumbo
3 pounds shrimp
3 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup brown rice
¼ cup chopped parsley
10 ounces frozen sliced okra
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
1½ cups frozen corn kernels
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
Place all of the ingredients in the broth except the shrimp. Cover and simmer until rice is cooked and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Then add the shrimp. (If desired, thicken broth with a smooth paste made from 3 tablespoons cold water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour. Serve with hot cornbread.

Italian Style Goulash

The type of goulash that originated in Eastern European countries such as Hungary bear little resemblance to the kind a person would find in American kitchens. About the only similarities are that they both contain paprika and beef.

greatgoulashAmerican goulash is more like a casserole or hotdish, while versions that originated in Hungary are more like a stew or soup.

I’ve tried my hand at a Hungarian goulash a few times. My favorite recipe is one that former co-worker Brad Schlossman shared with me several years ago. He said it was his Grandman Jennie Nartnik’s recipe and was one of his favorites. (Jennie was of Slovenian descent.)

Here’s another goulash recipe I came across recently that appears to have its roots in Italy. It contains tomatoes, garlic, Parmesan cheese and other things that one might find in a hearty pasta dish from the country located on the Mediterranean.

Italian Style Goulash
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
2 cups cooked pasta of your choice
1 6-ounce can mushrooms, drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 large onions
2 green peppers, cut up
1½ pounds ground beef or 1½ pounds turkey
¼ cup bacon
Fry bacon and cut into bite-size pieces. Set aside. Brown ground beef/turkey, onions, and green peppers in a large skillet. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, mushrooms, Italian Seasoning, and garlic. Cover and cook at medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir in bacon and cooked macaroni. Place in lightly greased 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Skillet Vegetable Medley

Skillet meals are quick and easy and are perfect for on-the-go families. And fresh garden vegetables can’t be beat for this type of dish.

vegskilletRatatouille comes to mind when many people think of something like this. Ratatouille is usually served as a side dish, but like other vegetable skillet dish also may be served as a meal on its own, accompanied by pasta, rice or bread.

We recently had a tasty meal of fresh veggies from the garden that I prepared in our large cast-iron skillet. It contained tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, zucchini and okra as well as a couple of slices of side pork, a little garlic and some Mediterranean seasoning salt.

The meal, which came together in less than a half-hour, was delicious.

Skillet Vegetable Medley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices side pork, diced
12 small tomatoes, skinned removed
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
6 to 8 small okra, sliced
½ cup cabbage, chopped
2 cups Swiss chard, chopped
2 cup spinach, chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 tablespoon Mediterranean seasoning salt
Pepper to taste
Saute side pork with onion, garlic and celery. Add remaining ingredients and simmer to ½ to 1 hour.
Yield: Serves 2 to 4.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

There’s no shortage of restaurants that serve authentic Italian food these days. That’s especially true in large cities. Even smaller ones such as Grand Forks in North Dakota and East Grand Forks across the Red  River in Minnesota are no exceptions.

9970b91e-b379-4a52-9a29-f292b637a067I have to admit, good Italian food is a favorite of mine. Whether it’s a vegetable primavera, lasagna loaded with spicy sausage or a pasta with seafood, Italian cuisine  is something I could eat everyday.

My most recent foray in search of Italian food led me to Mamma Maria’s in the downtown mall in East Grand Forks, where I had a spicy shrimp and pasta dish that was simply scrumptious. Therese also was quite pleased with her spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. And Diane Amiot, who along with her husband, Ron, dined with us, thoroughly enjoyed her homemade lasagna.

As mentioned earlier, I could eat Italian on a daily  basis, so you shouldn’t be surprised that we had spaghetti with a homemade meat and tomato sauce for dinner, just two days after our visit to Mamma Maria’s.

The recipe, which follows, is one I’ve perfected over the years. It can vary from time to time, depending on what kind of ground meat we have available. Our most recent spaghetti featured ground beef and pork sausage. (I often use ground bison, elk or venison.) To give it a little more of a taste of Italy, I ground up some fennel seeds.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound pork sausage
2 6-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 pint whole tomatoes
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1 to 2 tablespoons Lawry’s Mediterranean Herb Salt
1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, minced
Olive oil
Saute onion, celery, garlic, mushrooms, pepper and carrots in olive oil until translucent. Add tomatoes, sauce and paste along with sugar, salt and herbs. Simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Serve over spaghetti.
Yield: Serves 8.

Baked Cod with Sweet Peppers

It’s pretty easy to understand how people can get hooked on breaded fish. Its crispy texture and delicious taste is hard to resist.

410x290-baked_codI remember my first encounter with breaded fish. It was at the American Legion in my hometown of Crookston, Minn. My dad treated the family to a walleye fish fry dinner at the club, which was located upstairs in a building near the Crookston Bakery, where my Auntie Florence Cramb worked.

The fish was out of this world, and I always compared other seafood meals to that thereafter.

As I’ve grown older, fish that has been breaded has become much less appealing to me. Now, I like my fish seasoned with herbs and a little olive oil sans the breading, which is much healthier.

Just recently, a friend, Connie Nelson of Grand Forks, told me about a recipe for cod that she really likes. Connie said she likes to bake the fish on a cookie sheet atop a bed of sweet bell peppers seasoned with olive oil, fat-free Italian dressing, some herbs and a little salt and pepper.

I tried her recipe the other night and was quite pleased. The only alteration I made was to add some juice from a freshly squeezed lemon. I imagine other vegetables could be added to the bed of peppers, including onion, mushrooms and the like.

Connie said she also like to use the same method to cook chicken breasts and other kinds of fish such as tilapia.

Baked Cod with Sweet Peppers
1 1-pound cod fillet
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fat-free Italian dressing
2 teaspoons Lawry’s Mediterranean Herb Seasoning Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a cookied sheet with foil and coat with vegetable spray. Place the peppers topped with the fish, cut in 4 pieces, on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil, Italian dressing and lemon juice. Season with herbed salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and serve.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.