Friday, July 31, 2009

'cooking' in a heat wave

this week it has been HOT here in the pacific northwest. we have experienced record in 107 degrees...and since it's the great northwest, not many people have air conditioning. we sort of have air conditioning which has made the temperatures technically livable but let's face it, nothing compares to whole house a/c.

when the weather gets this hot, i usually don't like to cook. i really don't like to eat much either but definitely no heating up the kitchen. since we had already had salads and cold sandwiches earlier in the week, i decided to try an experiment with cooking in the microwave. of course i have made frozen dinners in the microwave but have never done anything else. some people don't like to use the microwave because of fears over radiation and nutritional loss. to this i say, sometimes it's about survival! :)

thursday night i made sloppy joes with a small side salad and it was great! i think i made up for the cheating methods of preparation by making my sauce from scratch. at least that's what i like to believe.
normally i would saute all of the ingredients for my sauce but this time i tried doing it in the microwave to great results. once my peppers and onions were 'sauteed' i warmed up the ground beef (this had been cooked earlier in the week when it was a cooler part of the day. time saving tip: if you know you are going to be using a product twice in one week, prepare it all at once then refrigerate the remainder. this beef for example was 2 lbs that had been browned, then 1 lb was seasoned for taco salad and the other left plain for sloppy joes.) then added the tomato products to the peppers and onions and heated it through. once that was all done i combined the two bowls and voila! sloppy joe sauce. also, to avoid heating my oven i popped the buns into the toaster to get them nice and crisp. take a look at the pics below, and i have included my 'recipe' for the sauce (a very rough recipe since i make it all up in my head as i go along!)

1/2 of a medium white onion, diced; 1/2 medium green bell pepper diced; about 2 T rice vinegar (you can also use apple cider vinegar for more sweetness); salt, pepper, garlic to taste; 2t chili powder; 1t mustard powder (you could use prepared mustard also, probably 1T); 2t cumin; 1T dried oregano, 2T olive oil. combine in glass bowl (don't use plastic if at all possible). cook on high for 1 1/2 minutes, stir, cook 1 1/2 minutes longer.

heat your ground beef for 3 minutes on high

6oz can tomato paste, 14.5 oz can stewed or crushed tomatoes, 3/4-1 cup ketchup, 2T brown sugar. combine ingredients in food processor and whirl till the tomatoes are smooth. combine with vegetables and meat. heat in microwave for about 3-5 minutes.

my spice arsenal

toasty buns!!

do you have any ideas for 'cooking' without heating up the house? i'd love to hear your ideas!

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