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RDJ-- GNR, 08-17-12  RDJ
 Aug 17, 2012 19:02 PDT 

Volume 15     Number 148
US Library of Congress ISSN: 1530-3292

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Table of Contents:

Black Beans and Rice
Hamburgers with Cheese in Them
Fruit and Spinach Salad
Nora Ephron's Bacon Hash
OVER THE TOP Chicken Spaghetti
Homemade CheezIt Crackers
Roasted Carrots
How to Stuff Pasta – The Easy Way

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For metric conversion, try

Simple and very good. A very healthy choice for a family dinner. Sue

Black Beans and Rice

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 red bell peppers, diced
4 cups hot cooked rice
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar, or a combination)
hot sauce

In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions, green peppers, and
garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the black beans and oregano. Bring
to a boil, then cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the balsamic
vinegar and remove from the heat. Stir in the red peppers.

To serve, place the rice in individual serving bowls and spoon the beans
on top. Offer the tomatoes, cheese, and hot sauce on the side. Yield: 4
to 6 servings.

This recipe goes way back in my family. I never have known what the
real name of it was. My kids decided to just call it what it is:
Hamburgers with Cheese in them". However, the title is very misleading.
There are no buns or condiments called for, and it is definitely not a
picnic item. It is, however, the most requested birthday dinner in my
family! If you try it, let me know if you like it! mama-@aol.com

Hamburgers with Cheese in Them

approx. 2 lbs. ground beef
1 bar of good cheddar cheese - cut into large chunks
2 family size cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup

Mix the ground beef well until it easily forms into a hamburger patty.
Make the patties a little on the thin side, and be sure the edges are
sealed. Holding one patty in your hand, place a chunk of the cheese
right in the middle of the patty. Then, take another patty and press the
whole thing together, keeping the cheese in the middle, and sealing the
edges as tightly as you can. Flatten it out just a little bit, and set
aside on a plate. Continue this procedure until all the meat is used.
You can make them as big or as small as you want, but try to keep them
all at the same thickness.

Using a large skillet, pour the salt lightly but evenly all over the
bottom of it. When the skillet is hot enough, carefully put the burgers
in and let them sear on the bottom. Don't turn them until you know they
are seared good. Then carefully turn them over, trying to keep them
from breaking up (this happens if they weren't sealed tight enough...
takes a little practice), and allow the other side to sear.

Once both sides are seared good and tight, pour one can of the tomato
soup over all the burgers, making sure each burger gets a good dollop.
At this point, I always find that I have some of the cheese leftover, so
I cut it into little pieces and throw it in on top of the tomato sauce.

If all the burgers aren't covered, or if the soup doesn't fill the
skillet at least halfway, go ahead and use the other can of soup.
Sometimes I just add a regular sized can of soup because that's all the
more it needs. You can experiment to find out what is good for you.
Keep in mind that any extra sauce can be used on your side dishes (fried
potatoes and onions, rice, for example)

Once all the sauce is on, lower the heat to medium or medium high, cover
the skillet and just let them cook. I'd say at least 15 minutes or
more. Test the doneness by cutting into the middle of the largest
burger - if it is still bright pink, replace the lid and give them a
little more cooking time. They are done when the burgers are no longer
pink inside.

Usual serving is one burger per person, and sauce for the side dish.
However, over the years I have found that many (usually the men) folks
like to have two of them! And, they are great leftover, too! Enjoy, and
send any questions or comments to: mama-@aol.com (Jeanie Sparagna)

Rich's Note:   Little Tricks

Many people have little tricks to add a personal touch to their cooking.
I know a guy who adds a tablespoon or so of finely diced cucumber to his
egg salad. Speaking of egg salad, some add a touch of curry.

A co-worker of Susan’s many years ago revealed her secret of adding a
large dollop of sour cream to her baked beans just before serving.

There’s a guy I know who puts a drop of hot sauce in each cup of coffee
he has.

I use Montreal chicken seasoning to my burgers and steaks.

Another thing I do is add a dash of ground allspice to my gravies.

I recently discovered that a drop or two of dark sesame oil added to a
tablespoon of Chinese hot mustard is really nice with egg rolls and on
sandwiches too.

Do you have any tricks that make a dish special?

Tricky Rich can be reached at rrow-@gmail.com     

Fruit and Spinach Salad

1 lb fresh spinach, torn
4 cups whole strawberries, sliced
1 can (11 oz) mandarin oranges, drained
Ginger Salad dressing
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 TBL olive oil
2 TBL sugar
3/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp grated lemon peel

Arrange spinach and fruit on salad plates. In a jar with tight fitting
lid, combine the dressing ingredients, shake well.

Drizzle over salads, serve immediately.


This recipe is from the writer/director (Julie and Julia, Sleepless in
Seattle) who put this recipe for bacon hash in her book Heartburn. It's
a simple and comforting dish, scrumptious with eggs and good any time of
the day. This serves one. Increase ingredients proportionately for the
number serving. dsi-@aol.com

Nora Ephron's Bacon Hash

2 strips bacon
1 medium potato cooked

Cut bacon into small pieces, then cook over low flame in skillet.

Meanwhile, dice up the cooked potato and, after some fat is rendered
from the bacon, add to the skillet.

Cook until the potatoes are crusty brown, then season with salt and

OVER THE TOP Chicken Spaghetti

Everybody has her favorite way of making this dish. This is just a
tweak on my original which turned out fabulous.

2 large chicken breasts, which I simmered in a large pot of water,
together with a medium chopped onion, a cup of celery (include leaves,
if the grocer has been smart enough to leave them on, because that's
where all the taste is) and a medium chopped bell pepper; salt, pepper
and garlic powder to taste.

When tender, remove chicken and chop into bite sized pieces. Reserve.
Then cook about ten ounces vermicelli (I use the whole wheat) in the
flavored chicken broth until done. Drain the pasta, saving the broth.
Dump it back into the pot you cooked it in and add the reserved chicken.

You will mix in what additional seasonings/additions you want at this

Now come the tweaks: I had frozen some leftover artichoke dip
(artichokes, mayonnaise, sour cream and parmesan cheese). I dumped
about a cup of that in the pasta mixture. I also had a bunch of fresh
cilantro, and I rough chopped a handful of that and threw it in.
tasted for seasonings--really needed nothing, the seasoned broth strikes
through the pasta and seasons it. Dumped it all into a deep casserole
dish and for good measure, sprinkled sliced almonds over the mixture. I
baked it at 350F until heated throughout and the almonds toasty. Let me
tell you, it was OVER THE TOP.

The artichoke dip did magic things: added flavor and creaminess and
melded beautifully with the cilantro. Of course, if you don't like
cilantro, that may certainly be omitted. Oh, the reason you save the
broth when you drain the pasta is that sometimes after you make the
additions and stir all together, you need a bit more liquid, and this is
soo flavorful.   I had frozen the artichoke dip back in June after a
party, and had no idea what I was going to do with it until it fell out
and hit my toe when I was taking the chicken breasts out of the freezer.
I love it when serendipitous things happen.

P.S. If you have another cupful or so of that broth, save it and use it
for the liquid in stews, gravy, etc. As you can see, I never throw out
any good useful ingredient. My sainted mother had a saying when I was
growing up, a child of the depression: "A woman can throw more out the
back door than a man can bring in the front door with a shovel." That
meant food equals money, so never waste food! She was an excellent,
inventive cook who could take a few humble ingredients and make a dinner
equal to any Cordon Bleu graduate. My husband says he is grateful I
inherited her cooking gene.

Susie in Austin Suelw-@aol.com

Homemade CheezIt Crackers

1 cup flour
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small squares
1 (8-ounce) bag grated extra-sharp 2% Cheddar cheese (preferably orange)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in food processor, and
pulse until crumbly. Add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough
comes together. Form into ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the
freezer for at least 30 minutes. Place dough between two pieces of
plastic wrap or parchment paper, and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness.
Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, and, using pizza cutter or
sharp knife, cut into 1 inch squares. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bake
for 25 minutes. Test for crispiness; crackers may take a few minutes
more to finish crisping. Remove from oven when crisp and just starting
to brown. Let cool and serve.

(I didn't need to chill mine, I think if you add less water you can skip
that step)
Sue Cookinc-@aol.com

Roasted Carrots (side dish for cookouts)

Cut 8 carrots into 1-inch sticks. Toss with 1 chopped red onion, 1
tablespoon walnut oil, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and salt to taste on a
baking sheet. Roast at 425F, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, soak 1/4 cup raisins
in 1/4 cup water. Add the raisins and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts to the
carrots; stir and continue roasting, 10 more minutes. Toss with the
juice of 1 lemon, some chopped cilantro and dill, and salt to taste.

Sue Cookinc-@aol.com

How to Stuff Pasta – The Easy Way

You’ll Need:
Disposable pastry bag or quart size ziplock
Tall cup

Fill a disposable pastry bag or ziplock bag (quart size works great)
with the filling you’ve made for your pasta. The easiest way to do this
is to place the bag in a tall cup, then fold the edges over the outside
of the cup.

Spoon the filling into the cup – don’t fill it up too high because
you’ll need to hold on to the end of the bag. Remove the bag from the
cup and twist or fold over the end so the filling doesn’t escape.

Snip the corner to make a small hole. You’ll want to make sure it’s big
enough for the filling to come out but not so big that it oozes
everywhere. Try cutting off about 1/2 inch from the tip of the bag’s

Hold your shell in one hand and the bag in the other. Hold the bag
almost exactly how you’d hold a pastry bag if you were frosting
something. Squeeze with gentle pressure because you don’t want to pop
the bag.

Squeeze the filling into the shell. Set aside and repeat with the rest.

Sue Cookinc-@aol.com

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