The weather is getting nicer, more like our typical April; a bit muggy and a bit hotter, but are we still inside social distancing from family and friends? And if so, how are we doing with delicious, creative meals? Supplies? Do we have all we need? Do we know how to improvise? As I’m writing this, I am thinking about two of our grandkids. One is a college senior at SHSU, the other a Lone Star College graduate and employee. Both of these kids, if I can call them that, have moved into our home to engage in “social distancing.” They get along very well and from here the story evolves. I am in South Carolina. I went there, as I do every spring, to volunteer at the Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival, to attend wing fest and the Heritage Classic Golf Tournament, and to participate in the St. Patty’s Day 5 K run/walk. Needless to say, that didn’t quite pan out as expected.

Upon arriving on Hilton Head Island, the voluntary isolation was just beginning to be enforced sporadically around the United States, and our hopes and plans of participating in local events were within days of being dashed from our reach. All events, one at a time, were being canceled and/or postponed. And then the unthinkable happened. While walking through the kitchen to the front door, I fell and broke my hip. Yes, an ambulance ride to a hospital that was on emergency status only for new patients was now on my agenda and I had become one of those patients.  The good news; I was checked in and moved off of the emergency floor and into a hospital room within 30 minutes. A few hours later, surgery. And now I’m in a rehabilitation hospital (yep, I got here via another ambulance ride). I will be back in Kingwood as soon as I can but not before the virus crisis has dissipated and I can handle an 18-hour, F-150 truck ride back across the country with our two dogs.

We have a good amount of food and supplies in our freezer and cabinets here and in Kingwood. I left the kids with a zip drive of my recipes and lots of prepared frozen foods and ingredients to make food. As for us, in SC, my husband has become the chef, cooking for himself and feeding the dogs.

What’s in your freezer is a legitimate question. If you run out of meal ideas and start foraging in your freezer, what do you find? Concoct? Yesterday when we spoke (not in person as I’m in a temporary no visitor-rule hospital), I asked my husband what he was doing for dinner. Since he had gotten carry-out for a few nights, he really impressed me with his answer. Sausage, peppers, onions and garlic with rice. Back to the grown grandkids in Kingwood; they found the frozen banana bread, pastitsio, gyro meat and a few steaks as well as seafood and frozen veggies. Please “Join Our Table” as we make a few easy recipes with food substitutions to help you enjoy and learn new cooking talents. It’s liked a “Chopped” show at home!

Here is Phil’s Fantastic Pan Sausage Saute

1 pound smoked sausage link, (found in the freezer), defrosted and cut into 1/2 inch disks

4 cloves garlic, (found in the freezer), rough chopped

1 red pepper, (found in the fridge), seeded and cut into rings

1 onion, yellow, white or red, cut into crescents

1 can chick peas, (garbanzo beans) drained. This is optional if you can find it in your pantry, or use white, red or black beans, drained

1/4 cup wine, any variety, if you have it. If not use, fruit juice or skip this ingredient.

2 tablespoons olive oil

Any spices you want to add, per Phil

2 cups cooked rice or pasta 

Combine first four ingredients in skillet and saute until thoroughly cooked. Add other ingredients except rice and cook over medium until wine is reduced by 1/2. Serve with rice.

 Making chicken, salmon or tuna salad and have no mayo? Here is an easy recipe to make mayo.


 Easy Mayonnaise recipe

1 egg yolk

1 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil (not canola)

2 tablespoons lemon juice; reserve one tablespoon

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon mustard powder

Dash cayenne or red pepper

1/4 teaspoon white pepper or black if you don’t have white

2 1/2 teaspoons monk fruit powder or 1 teaspoon sugar

In a small bowl, beat egg yolk with all ingredients except oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Use immersion blender or hand mixer/blender on medium. Slowly add oil in a steady stream. Add remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and beat well. Chill and use within 5 days.

The kids named it this … I don’t know why. They improvised a lot! I’m not there to taste test but they said they turned out really good!

Levi and Alex’s Ho-Bo Enchiladas 

1 pound ground beef (found in the freezer)

1-2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil 

2 cloves garlic, (found in the freezer), defrost and chop 

1 can enchilada sauce (found in the pantry)

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1/2 cup onion, chopped or 1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 cup frozen corn, if you don’t have it, use canned and drained or skip it

Sliced Havarti cheese, chopped up or Mexican blend, shredded if you have it (but all they had was the Havarti)

1/2 cup chopped green onion, if you have it 

Flour tortillas*


Tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-large skillet, brown ground beef, garlic and onion. Add cumin, onion powder if you don’t have any onions, and corn and heat through. Scoop into a flour tortilla, roll it up and top with enchilada sauce, Havarti cheese and green onion in oven-safe casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with salsa and chips. 

*If you don’t have flour tortillas, mix 1 cup yogurt with 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of self-rising flour, add a dash of salt and mix well. Kneed 3-4 minutes, roll into 6-inch circles and grill on a fry pan sprayed with a bit of oil. Flip after 1 minute and cook 1-2 more minutes. Done!

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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