Category Archives for "recipes"

Ice Breaker – What’s For Dinner?

Each week on The Stretched Blog, we ask an ice breaker question.  The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community.  I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments.  While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

Sometimes the best ice breaker questions deal with the mundane, everyday occurrences of life.  Today’s question is pretty simple, and it will be fun to see how everyone answers.

Question:  What did you have for dinner last night?

My Answer:  We are in the time of our lives when dinner is so important.  Often it is the only time that our family has to connect as we transition from busy days at work and school to homework and evening meetings and extra curricular activities.  Last night after dinner, we were running to Isaac’s Meet the Teacher Night.

For dinner, we had chicken crescent squares.  This has become one of our family’s favorites.  The recipe is made with chicken mixed with cream cheese, onion, and some other things wrapped in crescent rolls.  I’m not giving it justice in my description, but you’ll have to trust me.  It’s good!  We also had strawberry salad, and cauliflower with cheese.  Finally, we had watermelon to even things out.  All in all, I a great meal at home!

There you have it – my answer.  Now, it’s your turn.  Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment.  I look forward to reading your response!

Beef Bourguignonne

Okay, don’t ask me to pronounce it, but this is the subject of my latest culinary challenge. It’s another name for a classic French stew that tastes absolutely scrumptious.

Here are the ingredients:

1 pound boneless beef chuck roast cut into 3/4-inch cubes (you can actually buy it already cut up)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced (I used 2 cloves)
1 1/4 cups burgundy (I used 1 1/2 cups of this wine)
1/2 cup beef broth (I used 3/4 cup – Campbell’s soup)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
3/4 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
3 cups fresh mushrooms
4 medium carrots, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 pound pearl onions (I found mine in the frozen vegetable section of the grocery store)
2 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained and crumbled (I didn’t use this, but I’m sure it would make the recipe even better)
3 cups hot cooked noodles
Snipped parsley (optional – I didn’t use this either)

Now what, well before I give you the steps, I should tell you that I followed the crockery-cooker directions, so that is all your getting here.

In a pan cook half of the meat in 1 tablespoon of the hot oil til meat is brown. Remove from pan and add remaining oil, remaining meat, the chopped onion, and garlic. Cook till meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain fat. Mix all the meat together in this mixture.

In your crock pot, layer mushrooms, carrots, and pearl onions. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca. Place meat mixture atop vegetables. Add bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour 1 1/4 cops burgundy and 1/2 cup broth over meat. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or till tender. Discard bay leaves. Stir in bacon. Serve with noodles.

The smell of this dish alone will make your mouth water. I did all the preparation the night before and put the crock pot in the refrigerator until the morning. Before I left for work a returned the crock pot to the cooker and let it cook all day while I was at work. I would highly recommend this recipe (as long as you like beef).

By the way, I should mention that I used the Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book as a guide for this one. Enjoy.

Until the next post, don’t forget to stop and smell the French stew…

Ratatouille Part 2

Last year about this time, Leanne and I traveled to France to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. It was a vacation that we will never forget. We traveled all over the country enjoying that sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this beautiful nation. One of our stops along our journey was the home of Renee Vachier, a family friend of the Lomickas (my wife’s family). Renee lives in the south of France near the Mediteranean city of Marsailles.

This two day stop in our adventure totally engulfed me in the french language and the food famous in the Provence region of France. One of the many dishes that I sampled here was none other than Ratatouille. Renee’s rendition of this native delicacy was unbelievable.

Having recently seen the Disney movie Ratatouille, I was inspired to look up a recipe that I thought I would share here. I don’t know how it will compare with the Vachier family recipe, but I’m sure it will bring back pleasant memories. We’ll see.

Recipe (12 servings makes about 4.5 litres)

1.6 kg tomato [tomate]700 g eggplant (2) [aubergine]500 g zucchini (2) [courgette]700 g bell pepper (2-3) [poivron]1 kg onion [oignon]6 cloves garlic [ail]Herbes de Provence (basilic,thyme, parsley)
olive oil [huile d’olive]salt, pepper [sel, poivre]140 g tomato paste

Common Method
This method, or a variation, takes fewer pots, is somewhat faster, yet keeps the flavors well and is commonly used. About 65 minutes cooking.

1. Peel and drain the tomatoes (don’t mind the seeds): cut out the stem cores; drop the whole tomatoes into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove into a collander. The skin should split for easy removal; otherwise, make an X cut in the top, then peel off the skin.
2. Chop the onion and garlic. Clean the bell pepper, cut into small strips.
3. In a large cooking pot with thick bottom, put in olive oil, onions and chopped garlic. Add in the bell pepper. Cover to keep in the moisture. Cook for 20 minutes, stiring frequently, and add olive oil as necessary to prevent singing.
4. Add the peeled tomatoes and herbs de Provence. If you don’t have good garden tomatoes with flavor, add a small can of tomato paste. Stirr well and cook for another 15 minutes. [35′]5. Cut the eggplant into rondelles. Cut the un-peeled zucchini into rondelles.
6. Add the eggplant and zucchini to the pot. Cook for about 30 minutes. [65′]

1 kg = 2.2 lbs
0.45 kg = 1 lb
1 lt = 1.06 qt
0.95 lt = 1 qt
30 g = 1 oz = 2 Tbs
60 g = 2 oz = 1/4 cup
115 g = 4 oz = 1/2 cup
180 g = 6 oz = 3/4 cup
225 g = 8 oz = 1 cup
450 g = 16 oz = 1 pint

Until the next post….


If you knew me growing up, you’d understand that I was not a culinary wizard. In fact, my specialty by the time I married Leanne was microwaved hot dogs and Kraft macaroni and cheese. I’d like to think that I’ve come along way since then – but you can ask my wife.

Last night, I cooked an old family recipe – Swedish Pancakes. They’re really not that hard to make, but nobody makes them like my Grandma Stolpe. Her recipe will be at the bottom of the post. My side of the family has often talked about putting together a recipe book or web page or something to document all the family recipes – especially the Swedish Christmas tradition recipes like Swedish meatballs, korv (poor man’s sausage), raspberry creme, and rice pudding. The flavors of each of these dishes reminds us all of the great times together – times as kids surrounding Grandma and Grandpa Stolpe’s kitchen table at their Carol Stream, IL house, times as parents introducing our own children to these traditions, times we will never forget.

What foods spark these kinds of memories for you and your family?

So here’s the recipe from Grandma Stolpe:

6 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
3/4 cup butter or margarine melted
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs and 1 cup milk. Add sugar and flour and beat smooth. Beat in melted butter or margarine and salt and rest of the milk. Bake in a hot fry pan until golden brown, turning once.

Until the next post….