CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Slow Cooker Roast Stroganoff

Cooking for two can be a challenging. But as the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way.

For me, the biggest issue is leftovers. When our grandson, Rakeem, was in town and coming over for supper two to four times a week, it wasn’t that big a deal. But now that he’s gone away for college, I’ve had to come up with some new recipes or cut back on some old ones so we aren’t eating the same thing for a week.

We had a bit of a reprieve recently when he came home for a visit. I made a couple of his favorite meals — Swiss steak and spaghetti with meat sauce — while he was here. His appetite assuredly cut back on the amount of leftovers.

However when preparing the Swiss steak, I had a pretty good chunk of meat remaining after cutting slices off a 3- to 4-pound bison roast and no plan for the remainder. That’s when I started searching through cookbooks and on the internet for recipes that might give me some ideas on what to do with the large hunk of roast.

After looking over more than a dozen recipes, I put together the following concoction, which vastly exceeded my expectations. And needless to say, the leftovers didn’t last very long.

Slow Cooker Roast Stroganoff
1 3- to 4-pound beef or bison roast
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 10½-ounce can cream of mushroom soup (If using a condensed soup add 1 can of water.)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 14½-ounce can stewed tomatoes
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Sour cream
Put the onion soup mix on the bottom of the slow cooker. Brown all sides of the roast in a skillet. Remove meat and place in slow cooker.
Add soup, flour and Worcestershire sauce to the hot skillet, cook until smooth (add water if you are using condensed soup). Pour over the roast in the crockpot. Add tomatoes and mushrooms.
Cook for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the roast and cut into bite-size pieces. Stir the sauce. Mix in a few dollops of sour cream. Add the meat and mix. Serve over egg noodles tossed with butter or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle some dried dill on top of stroganoff and noodles or potatoes along with a few more spoonfuls of sour cream.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Fried Cabbage With Brats

There is nothing simpler to make than fried cabbage. And combine it with a little meat, and you have a meal in a skillet.

My taste for cabbage runs the gamut when it comes to spiciness. I like it lightly seasoned with just salt and pepper — some might call this bland — or it can be relatively hot when it features some of my favorite capsaicin-laden jalapeños or habaneros.

The following fried cabbage recipe, which features bacon and brats, goes lightly on the hot stuff, containing just a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

This is a good example of the old adage that some of the most simple meals are the best.

Fried Cabbage with Brats
2 slices bacon
3 bratwursts
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
1 head cabbage, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic power
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Take bratwurst out of casings and cook with bacon oven medium heat in a large skillet. Cook until bacon is crisp and sausage is crumbly and done. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Add cabbage, sugar, vinegar, garlic and onion powder, paprika and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add crumbled bacon and bratwurst. Combine with cabbage mixture and serve.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Grandma’s Hotdish

I remember a couple of years ago, when my stepdaughter, Jessica, called from Cincinnati to get a recipe. My granddaughter, Naomi, wanted hotdish — the way Grandma makes it.

Back when we were both still working, Therese used to make the tasty hotdish for our grandson, Rakeem, on Tuesdays, when I worked from 4 p.m. to midnight. In retirement, we continue to have the hotdish, which is easy to make, at least once a week when Rakeem was living here and having supper with us two to four times a week.

The hamburger hotdish is basically the same as one my mom used to make when I was growing up. The only difference is that she used a can of vegetable vegetarian soup instead of tomato soup and we add a can of green beans. (We also use ground bison instead of beef.)

After he moved to Cincinnati to go to college, Rakeem asked Grandma for the hotdish recipe so he could make it for himself in his efficiency apartment. One of the last times I texted with him, he said he had made Grandma’s hotdish for supper.

Therese and I still enjoy the hotdish once every week or two, but we have twice as many leftovers as we did when Rakeem was in town. But needless to say, that hasn’t been a problem.

Grandma’s Hotdish
1 pound ground beef
1 14½-ounce can green beans
1 10¾-ounce can tomato soup
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup ketchup
1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked per package instructions
Salt and pepper to taste. Brown meat and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in green beans and tomato soup. Add cooked macaroni. Place in casserole dish and bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Honey Garlic Shrimp

Do you know what is the most popular seafood in America? If you guessed salmon or halibut, two of the most delicious and nutritious fish around, you would be wrong. Ditto with crab and lobster.

Shrimp is the most popular seafood in America. In fact, it represents more than a quarter of the annual per capita seafood consumption in the United States.

While I’m a fan of all the aforementioned types of seafood, shrimp is my favorite, no matter if it’s fried, broiled, baked or grilled.

So, needless to say, I’m always on the lookout for any new ways to prepare camarones as they are called in Mexico or gamberettos as they are know in Italy.

The following recipe caught my eye recently, and I decided to give it a try.

And guess what? I still haven’t found a shrimp recipe that’s disappointed me!

Honey Garlic Shrimp
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice (or juice of half a lemon)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
21 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined (tail on or off)
Salt to season
Lemon wedges (to serve)
Fresh chopped parsley, to serve
Heat butter in a nonstick pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Melt, swirling pan and stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes, or until the foam settles; the butter begins to change in color to golden brown and has a nutty fragrance. Add the honey, lemon juice, soy sauce and garlic; stir well to combine all of the flavors together and cook for 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat. Pour out just over half of the browned butter from the pan (liquid only), leaving 2 tablespoons of the honey butter mixture in the pan, and reserve the rest for later.
Add half of the shrimp to the honey/butter in the pan; sear for about 2 minutes each side, or until just cooked through and no longer opaque. Transfer to a plate; set aside.
Wipe pan over with paper towel and add 2 more tablespoons of the honey/butter mixture to the pan. (You may need to add 1 teaspoon of olive oil or extra butter to the pan if your sauce has thickened too much.) Sear the remaining shrimp for 2 minutes each side, or until just cooked through and no longer opaque.
Add the cooked shrimp back into the pan, and pour in the remaining honey/butter sauce; stirring through the shrimp to evenly coat. Season with salt if desired and garnish with parsley.
Serve with steamed vegetables; over rice.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Shrimp iPaella!

Fish and seafood meals are a popular during Lent, and not just for Catholics, who are required to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during the 40 days that precede Easter.

That was very evident to me when guest hosting one of East Grand Forks Sacred Heart Men’s Club-sponsored fish fries during Lent over the past several years. Many of the people who partook in the meal weren’t even Catholic. They just came for a good meal at a good price.

I wasn’t asked to host one of the meals this year but am sure a good many Lutherans and members of other denominations have had their share of the tasty pollock — known by many as Alaskan walleye — that’s served at Sacred Heart.

But for a lot of people, Lent is not the only season for fish or seafood. I attribute that to the growing evidence that eating certain kinds of fish and seafood at least once a week is linked to better health.

We like to have meatless meals several times a week. And usually at least one features fish or seafood. Our most recent was an entree called Shrimp iPaella!

Paella is a rice dish that has its roots in the area around Valencia, Spain, and has become quite popular at Spanish restaurants all over the world.

There’s not much of a consensus regarding how this tasty dish should be prepared and what should or shouldn’t go into it. Some say it should be just seafood with saffron-scented rice and sweet bell peppers, while other insist on a combination of seafood and meat such as chorizo or chicken.

The following is a shrimp version, which includes rice, peppers, black olives and capers. I don’t remember the origin of the recipe but it definitely is a keeper.

Shrimp iPaella!
6 tablespoons butter
½ onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pinch saffron
1 tablespoon bouillon
½ green pepper
½ red pepper
½ cup black olives, chopped
3 tablespoons capers
2 bay leaves
1½ pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled
4 teaspoons oregano
6 ounces stewed tomatoes
½ teaspoon sugar
2½ cups rice
4 cups water or broth
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 ounce chipotle peppers, sliced
In large pan, saute onion and garlic in 4 tablespoons of the butter until onion is transparent. Add saffron, bouillon, peppers, olives, capers and bay leaves. In separate pan, saute shrimp in remaining butter and oregano until shrimp whiten. Drain, then add to first pan, along with stewed tomatoes and sugar. Stir. Cook rice in water or broth in large pot. When rice is 2 minutes from being done, dump in contents of saute pan, plus parsley, cilantro and chipotles. Stir. Let sit for an hour. Reheat and serve.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Chicken And Rice

Chicken and rice is a popular combination. In fact, some people would say it’s unbeatable.

This simple pairing has been around for ages. After all, rice is a staple in many countries around the world, and chicken is probably more widely available than any other meat. The two go together like spaghetti and meatballs, or peanut butter and jelly.

Recently, we had chicken and rice, using a recipe that originally called for pheasant. It was so tasty that I duplicated the meal only a week or so after the first time we had it.

One of the things that we particularly liked was the sauce, a rich combination of butter, olive oil, wine and broth, along with a dab of sugar. And I should mention the meat was very tender, probably because it was browned first before being place in the oven with the sautéed mushrooms, onions, garlic and black olives.

A nice salad and some home-grown buttercup squash rounded out our meal, which complemented the chicken and rice nicely.

Chicken and Rice
1 3- to 4-pound chicken, meat removed from bone and cut into pieces
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon seasoning salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 cup red cooking wine
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
½ cup black olives, sliced
1 can chicken stock or broth
In a large heavy skillet, preheat the shortening and butter on medium-high heat. In a bowl, add the flour with the garlic powder and onion powder, seasoning salt and pepper. Roll the pheasant pieces into the seasoned flour and place slowly in the hot pan. Fry until light golden brown.
Lightly spray a slow cooker crock with vegetable oil and set the heat to low, and add the browned pheasant pieces. In the heavy skillet that the pheasant was browned in, add the garlic, mushrooms, black olives, wine, onions, sugar, and broth. Heat until it starts to bubble and cook for a few minutes. Pour this sauce over the pheasant in the slow cooker.
Cook for 6 to 8 hours. If you wish, you may bake this in the oven on 325 degrees for 1½ hours.
Serve over cooked rice.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Pan-Seared Red Snapper

Many of the healthiest diets that are being touted these days include fish. And there is good reason. Several kinds of fish and seafood contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to human health.

But why are they essential?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health and the Mayo Clinic, among others, omega-3 fats are special because they have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.

To that end, the American Heart Association and other agencies recommend eating a variety of fish at least twice a week, and red snapper is an excellent choice for a healthy diet. While it is not as high in omega-3 fatty acids as others such as salmon, it is a good source.

Here’s a recipe we tried recently that I like for a couple of reasons: It takes little time to prepare and is awful tasty.

And that’s on top of being good for you!

Pan-Seared Red Snapper
2 4-ounce red snapper fillets red snapper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Rinse snapper under cold water, and pat dry. In a shallow bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, rice vinegar, mustard, honey, green onions, and ginger.
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Dip snapper fillets in marinade to coat both sides. Place in skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Pour remaining marinade into skillet. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with vegetables.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Scallops Marinara

Lent is just around the corner, so that means meatless meals for some people. In a lot of cases, that means fish or seafood.

Here’s a tasty dish that fits the bill from True North Seafood (, which for six generations has been fishing the waters of the Bay of Fundy, located between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

It’s a keeper!

Scallops Marinara
12 ounces rotini
8 ounces bay scallops
Fresh basil leaves
Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
½ teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 16-ounce can tomatoes
1 green pepper, diced
Sea salt and ground pepper
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and green pepper and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then stir and reduce the heat to medium low; simmer 20 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook on the box as directed.
Increase the heat of the sauce to medium high, add the scallops and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 5 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce; toss. Top with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Serve.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Chicken Marsala

Mushrooms are one of those vegetables that you either love or hate. For those who dislike mushrooms, it’s usually texture that puts people off more than the taste, while it’s those same qualities that attracts those on the other side of the aisle.

One of the reasons I like mushrooms so much is that they often absorb the flavor of the food or sauce in which they are cooked. And that’s precisely the reason I wanted to give chicken marsala a try, mushrooms being one of the key ingredients.

I had never made the Italian favorite before this past weekend and with a package of mushrooms in the refrigerator that needed to be used, there wasn’t a better time.

The following recipe for chicken marsala is pretty straightforward — and everything I wanted.

Chicken marsala isn’t for those who want a quick meal in a short time. It requires about 20 minutes of preparation and 20 minutes of cooking, but it is time well-spent and an entree that any mushroom aficionado would love.

Chicken Marsala
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced, or bacon bits
8 ounces crimini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
½ cup sweet Marsala wine
½ cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about ¼-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once — do this in batches if the pieces don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.
Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, saute for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and saute until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup

Cold weather and comfort food go together like bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs.

That’s why it wasn’t surprising to me to see a billboard ad this morning touting all the soup you can eat from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays at a local restaurant. After all, what’s more comforting when the temperatures are below zero than a bowl of hot soup?

The following recipe, for Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup, is my standby when winter temperatures dip into negative territory. It’s a hearty soup that contains cabbage (of course),  sauerkraut, tomatoes and carrots, among other ingredients.

I once brought the soup along on an ice-fishing trip to Lake of the Woods in northwestern Minnesota on a day when the temperatures were well below zero — somewhere between minus 10 and minus 20.

I can’t think of anything else that would have been more comforting.

Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup
1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 quart sauerkraut
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
2- to 3-pound chuck or buffalo roast or stew meat
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
4 quarts water
Cook meat in water in soup pot until medium. Remove and cool. Put the rest of ingredients in water and bring to boil. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and add to soup. Cook for 2 hours and serve.