Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weekend Cooking 4/12

Each weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  This is perfect for me since I love food and cooking almost as much as I love books!

Our meals this week featured a lot of Easter left-overs! I made or bought most of the dishes for a traditional Ukrainian Easter feast, including holubtsi (cabbage rolls), pierogies (both potato and sauerkraut), ham, Polish sausage, a beet and horseradish relish, dyed eggs, green beans (I added those to the traditional foods for a bit of veggies for the kids!), and Paska (traditional Ukrainian Easter bread, also known as babka in Poland). I was quite proud of myself for making the holubtsi on my own - you can see in the photo that it and the beet-horseradish relish are based on old family recipes that I have scribbled on scraps of paper! It was all delicious and just as good left-over.

We also went camping this weekend, just my husband and I, as our sons spent their spring breaks in North Captiva Island, FL, and the Bahamas (what's wrong with this picture? ha ha). It ended up rainy and very cold for much of our camping trip, so we ate some of our meals in town, in restaurants. We did have to get creative one night, when I had all the ingredients for our favorite camping meal - foil dinner - but it was raining too hard to have a campfire. So, I improvised and re-made the meal on the stovetop in our little pop-up camper (see very simple recipe below). It tasted just as good!

My husband and I returned home, and I had the challenge of creating a dinner out of what was in our fridge after 4 days away. I used an old magazine recipe for Wild Salmon with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Olives, and it was absolutely wonderful! It was quite simple, too. The recipe called for sauteing cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives in a skillet, then adding spinach to wilt. We didn't have cherry tomatoes, but I subbed the one fresh tomato we had plus a little canned, chopped tomatoes, and it turned out just fine. Then, I seared the salmon in a hot cast iron skillet and served it over the spinach, tomato, olive mixture.  I made steamed carrots and parsnips with a honey-butter glaze on the side.The meal was delicious, and we can't wait to try it again this summer with fresh cherry tomatoes from our CSA farm.

Finally, I used the last of the leftover ham last night in one of our family favorites, Hoppin' John. Even my son's picky eater friend enjoyed it!

It almost seemed silly to write down such a simple recipe, but here's our Stovetop version of our favorite campfire meal (to make it over a campfire or in a very hot oven, just wrap all the ingredients in heavy-duty foil (no pre-cooking necessary) and cook over hot coals or in the oven for about 40 minutes, flipping it once).

Foil Camping Dinner on the Stovetop
(Serves 4)
An indoor version of our favorite camping meal

4 small to medium red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch chunks (or enough for 4 people)
4 medium-sized carrots, sliced (or enough for 4 people)
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef (grass-fed, organic if you are eating Paleo)
sea salt & pepper to taste

(NOTE: Our medical diet allows red potatoes once a week, but if you are eating strict Paleo, you can substitute turnips)

  1. Add potatoes and carrots to a saucepan with enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté onion and bell pepper in olive oil until soft. Add ground beef to skillet and sauté until brown.
  3. When carrots and potatoes are cooked, drain them and add to the skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

© Suzan L. Jackson 2015
(Do not reprint or publish without written permission from the author)


  1. I've got a leftover ham bone and ham slices in the freezer to make soup with, but haven't decided what kind of soup to make yet! Otherwise, we've eaten up all our Easter leftovers this week, too!

    1. Mmmm....our favorite soup to make with leftover ham is Ham and Navy Bean Soup. Come to think of it - we haven't had it in ages!


  2. I get such satisfaction out of creating a meal out what's left in the refrigerator and cupboards. I haven't had Hoppin John in a while. Now you've given me a craving.

    My mother-in-law used to make many of those Eastern European dishes. I miss them.

    1. Yes, I had a Polish roommate in college whose family ate all the same foods for Easter, too! The food was good, but those flavors made me soooo nostalgic for my childhood Easters when our WHOLE extended family was together for a big feast - so many of them are no longer alive. Miss those days.

      And isn't it a thrill when you make a really good meal out of fridge scraps??

  3. That camping meal sounds very tasty. Foil wrapped or cooked on the stove. And your Easter meal was very interesting. Not sure I would like beet-horseradish, but, hey, I'd try it. :-)

    And, yes, boys in the Bahamas, parents camping - LOL!

    1. The relish is very good with ham or Polish sausage and especially good with hard-boiled eggs - yum!

  4. Why is it that when I was a child the children suffered and the adults had everything, but now that I'm an adult the children get everything and the adults suffer?

    Enjoy your week!