Monday, November 14, 2011

Fried Oreo’s

Where I grew up, you can find these delicious, chocolate morsels at any fair or carnival. They are love by all ages for their crispy, golden brown goodness. They’re not hard to make, but don’t even think about the calories. These are a once in a great while treat in my house. It has been a few years since I’ve made them last. I use double stuffed oreo’s when I make them, but really you can use any kind you want. I bet the mint ones taste pretty darn good too. I like to eat them plain, but they tend to be better with some powdered sugar on top or a drizzle of hot fudge and some whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Olive Tapenade

What You Need:

Double Stuffed Oreo’s
1 egg
1/4 c milk
1/2 tbs vanilla
1 tbs agave or sugar
1/2 c flour
pinch of salt
oil for frying

What To Do:

Heat a pan with about 2 inches of oil. In a bowl, combined the egg, milk, vanilla, agave or sugar, flour and salt. If your batter is still thick, add a bit more milk in until it’s a pancake batter consistency.  Once the oil has reached 350 degrees, dunk an oreo into the batter. Use a fork to pull it out and carefully drop into the oil. Let fry, flipping once, until just golden brown. The cookie becomes soft and crème melts into a wonderful gooey-ness.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Food We Eat

The Food We Eat
Processed foods have taken over the country. They can be found in every grocery store, convenience mart and restaurant. Most items that go into shopping carts contain chemicals that resemble normal every day ingredients.  The food industry has changed drastically over the last one hundred years. What once was high quality; all natural ingredients are now chemically created in labs. Such things are having detrimental effects on this country.  It is leading to an epidemic of obesity and other chronic diseases (BBC News). Even products that are not chemically made such as milk have changed drastically as well. There are three main staples that seem to end up in everyone’s shopping cart. These are milk, bread and eggs. In addition to eating less prepackaged food, if American starting demanding real milk, real eggs and real bread, the industry would be forced to change and bring real food back to this country.
One thing that ends up in most of the shopping carts across America is milk. Creamy, white goodness that has been around for centuries, but do humans really need it? For children, milk provides an all in one package of nutrients that a growing child needs. While these nutrients can be found elsewhere, nothing is more complete then milk (Sears).  Humans are the only mammals that drink the milk of another animal. Female mammals are able to produce milk for their young , which contain all the nutrients they need to sustain life. After about a year, this milk starts to dry up. The same goes for cows. In order for female’s cows to continuing producing milk, they need to be bred each year. It’s the hormones that keep milk production going (Tilton).  The pasteurization process destroys much of the good bacteria and actually changes the proteins within the milk making it harder for humans to digest.  This also makes milk a poor choice for calcium consumption too. Leafy greens, lentils, nuts and sprouts are all full of calcium and make a much better choice (Tilton).
So why do most adults still consume milk if it’s not needed? Most people grew up drinking milk. It is something that has stuck with them and passed on down the family line. There is a big problem with this. The milk produced from farms in the first half of the 1900’s, is drastically different then the milk we get today. Since 1970, milk has been ultrapasteurized, meaning it’s heated to at least 280 degree Fahrenheit for at least two seconds, effectively killing any bacteria (Mendelson 36). It was this bacterium that was thought to be beneficial and why some people probably saw grandparents drinking glasses of real buttermilk or even soured milk (Mendleson 34). 
Then of course comes the “supercow” (Mendelson 36).  In the 1940’s a good cow would produce about 4,500 pounds of milk per year. The good producers were picked out and bred until that same cow would produce 20,000 gallons of milk per year. Since 1960, the United States cow population has shunk by about half, yet the milk production increased from 120 billion pounds of milk to 177 billion pounds (Mother, 36). The cow’s diet has changed as well. Cows are grazers, grass was the main food, however in America, commercial cows are feed grain, mostly corn. This changes the chemistry in their stomachs, which often cause the cow to lose her appetite. They are constantly thirsty and while drinking more water produces more milk, this milk is thinner, watered downed. This wasn’t enough milk for commercial America, so growth hormone or rBGH, started to be administered in 1990 (Mendelson 37).  All of these have severally shortened the life span of a cow. Changes are starting to be made. Studies showed that the growth hormone giving to cows was affecting humans in a negative way. Now, some commercial farms are no longer using growth hormone. This is partly due to the fact that many Americans have complained and started spending their money on organic or raw milks. This is a great example on how American spending can change our food system.
Another great example is High Fructose Corn Syrup of HFCS. HFCS is the most common sweetener used in commercially produced goods today (Nelson). It is in everything from soda, to ketchup to baked goods and even cereals.  Even worse, there are reports that show HFCS “may contain detectable levels of mercury” (Hitti) in the samples that were tested. While these levels were below what the EPA considers safe, Mercury is still toxic. Worst still is the fact that caustic soda is needed in the process of making high fructose corn syrup. Caustic soda, better known as lye, is primarily used as a drain cleaner. It is also used in the process of making soap. It is extremely basic on the P.H. scale, meaning the tiniest amount can burn a whole in your skin, straight down to the bone. Think of the movie “Fight Club” and the scene where a chemical is burning Ed Norton’s character’s skin. So why is HFCS in so many products? It boils down to cost. HFCS is cheaper than table sugar and honey plus it has the added benefit of keeping foods moist. This is not something people should be consuming in any amounts but they do on a daily basis, especially from cola’s where the first or second ingredient is usually HFCS.
Bread is another very common item ending up in shopping carts across America that contains HFCS. Sugar is needed to help bread rise but it isn’t always necessary. Sugar is needed in such a small amount per loaf of bread that it is possible using regular sugar instead of HFCS wouldn’t raise the price of bread by very much. Another issue in bread is the refined flours. White flour is bleached and has all of the nutrients removed, then the vitamins and minerals are put back in. Even breads labeled as whole wheat or whole grain often use flours that have been “enriched”.  This doesn’t mean that it is bad and should be avoided but when you add in the rest of the chemical ingredients, it might be a good idea to make your own. Read the ingredients on a loaf of bread and compare it the ingredients listed in a recipe, they are vastly different. Yes, buying bread is more convenient, but is convenience worth the health risks?
High fructose corn syrup contains 50% fructose. Fructose is a sugar that is found naturally in fruits. This sugar does not tell the body to produce insulin which is good if you happen to be a diabetic. The downside to this though, is that it also prevents the chemical leptin from being secreted as well. Leptin is controlled by the secrection of insulin. Without leptin the brain can’t tell us when we’re full. Without leptin, hunger is not sated and people eat to excess (Mohr).
The last item worth mentioning is eggs, or perhaps the chickens from which the eggs come from. Egg producing hens are often tightly packed together, several rows highs, with artificial day light 24 hours a day. This much daylight allows them to produce at least one egg every day, if not more.  “Free range” eggs are no exception and they are often not a better quality either. All free range means is that the chickens are on the ground and have “some” room to move. This could mean as little as one foot of space for the bird to move around in. That doesn’t sound much like free ranging does it? The chickens are treated poorly, often laying eggs next to dead rotting chicken corpses (“Mercy for Animals”).These eggs are then cleaned in a bleach solution and sold for human consumption.
Farm fresh eggs from chickens that really are free ranged or pasture fed, meaning their diets do not consist of corn based feeds, are far superior then the store bought counter parts. In appearance alone, farm eggs have thicker shells, and beautiful orange yolks. They are often fresher as they do not sit around in storage or shipping boxes for months at a time. Plus, the taste of a farm fresh egg can’t be beaten but anything found in a store. Obtaining farm fresh eggs is pretty simple. You can find signs along the road offering eggs or you can raise chickens at home. Chickens require little space and most places do not have very strict ordinances when it comes to raising them either. Just two or three chickens can easily feed a family of four.
Making just a few simple changes to the everyday America diet can really go a long way when it comes to the health of the country. Bring back high quality milk that can easily be made into yogurt, cheeses, and other fermented products. Bring back real bread, make with real whole wheat and whole grain flours, real sugar and real yeast. Bring back real eggs, full of vitamins and minerals and naturally occurring heart health omega fats. American dollars determine what products end up in supermarkets. If spending habits start to trend to high quality healthy ingredients, big name companies will follow suit. Disagree? It has already happened with high fructose corn syrup. The dangers were to great and consumers started purchasing products that didn’t contain this harmful fake sugar. Now, big brand name companies have stopped putting it in some of their products.
It’s really not hard to change eating habits. All it takes is a little bit of time. Bringing back an old way of life is essential for the future.

Works Cited:
"Eat less processed food, say experts." BBC News. N.p., 03 Mar 2003. Web. 27 Oct 2011. .
Hitti, Miranda. "Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup?." WebMd. N.p., 27 Jan 2009. Web. 29 Oct 2011. .
Mendelson, Anne. "The Astonishing Story of Real Milk." Mother Earth News. Oct 2011: 34-41. Print.
Mohr, Christopher R. "The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup."Diabetes Health. N.p., 20 Aug 2008. Web. 29 Oct 2011. .
Nelson, Jennifer. "High-fructose corn syrup: What are the health concerns." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 23 Oct 2010. Web. 28 Oct 2011. .
Sears, William. "Nutritional Benefits." Ask Dr. Sears. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct 2011. .
Tilton, Erleen. "Do You Need Milk?." Ezine Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct 2011. .
"The Rotten Truth." Mercy for Animals. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct 2011. .

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Make: Instant Oatmeal


A while back I had saw a blog post talking about the prices of a box instant oatmeal, compared to an entire pound of oat. The blog post talked about it being no more difficult to turn on the stove and make the real thing instead of the processed box version which often was full of sugar, additives and very little fruit. The blogger showed how he just boiled it away on the stove top for a few minutes and that was that. This, I thought, was a great idea! My husband loves oatmeal in the winter time and will eat two packages of the instant stuff at a time. When you go through two boxes a week at about $4 a pop for the organic stuff, it gets a little pricey! So I told him that I was going to buy regular oats that he could just cook in the pan in the morning. This was met will all sorts of heartache. He hates to cook and he certainly didn’t want to find a pan, measure the oats, measure the water blah blah blah. Basically he was telling me it would be to much work for him. So, I set out to create an instant oatmeal that was just like his packets. All he would have to do is add water and pop it in the microwave. What I came up with is so much cost effective then those pre-made boxes, and better for you too.

One Year Ago: Plum Crumble

What You Need: (Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal)
9 cups quick oats
1/3 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c raisins
2 tbs cinnamon

What To Do:
Remove 2 1/2 cups of the quick oats and place into a food processor. Pulse a few times until they are broken down, but not quite to powder form.  Stir the raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon into it and then combine the whole thing together with the rest of the quick oats. Once combined thoroughly, store in an air tight container, making sure to label it. One heaping 1/2 scoop is equivalent to one packet of the store bought stuff. Just add about 3/4 c water and place in the microwave for 1 minute. If this isn’t sweet enough for you, add in some honey, maple syrup etc, after cooking.
Not a cinnamon raisin fan? Make a chocolate version by adding in some cocoa powder and dried milk, maybe some chocolate chips? Omit the raisins and add in a bit more sugar for a cinnamon roll version. Add dried apples instead of raisins. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Product Review: Crisco Olive Oils


As part as the Food Buzz Taste Maker program, I received 3 bottles of crisco olive oils. I received a light tasting oil which was good for frying or baking, a pure olive oil which is great for marinating or sautéing and my favorite, extra virgin olive oil which is perfect for dipping bread. I really enjoyed each of them but my favorite was the extra virgin. I combined it with some garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar. It went perfect with the crust bread I served it will.

Each of the olive oils have a great taste that has complimented everything I’ve done with it. It is definitely worth giving a try.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How To Make: Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar isn’t something hard to make. In fact, it’s no harder then making alcohol. It’s about the fermentation process. It doesn’t require very much skill and it’s a great way to use every bit of something that you buy. To make apple cider vinegar all you need is apple scrapes (peels and cores), and water.  Where I live, I am able to compost. I also have chickens so very little gets thrown away in my house. If it doesn’t end up in the compost pile, it ends up being eaten by my chickens. So when I made an apple crumble last week, I almost brought the scrapes to my fine feather friends. What stopped me was the fact that I go through a lot of ACV (apple cider vinegar). I use it often in cooking and for it’s great health benefits. If I could make it with my scrapes, I’d save some money and have the really good kind. So I set out to do it.
One Year Ago: Sweet Potato Hash
Here’s what you do:
Make sure you’re using organic apples that have been washed in warm water to remove and dirt. Do not use apples that are rotten. Do not use conventionally grown apples like you would find in the super market. These apples are coated in a wax to make them look pretty, not to mention the chemical fertilizers and sprays used to keep bugs away.  Use the apples to make pie or fritter or whatever you want, just make sure to save the cores and the peels. Let the peels sit out at room temp for a few hours or until they turn brown. This is a good thing!
Place the peels into a large, clean glass jar. I used an old cookie jar we’ve had kicking around but mason jars would work nice too. Cover the peels with water and then use either cheese cloth or a paper towel secured with a rubber band to cover the opening of the jar. This allows the jar to breath and bacteria (yeast), to get, but not dust or debris.
Set into a warm, dark place and wait. Soon you’ll see a white frothy looking substance forming on top of the vinegar. This is okay. It’s excess yeast and means that fermentation is taking place. If you see any other colors such as green or black, this is not yeast and your mixture has spoiled. Dump the contents, clean the jar very well and try again. Some times it happens.
The fermentation process will actually happen twice. The first time, it turns to wine. The second time is when it turns to vinegar. After about a month, give it a taste. You’ll notice that fermentation is starting. It can take 6 to 7 months for it to turn to vinegar. Taste it once a week or so and when it’s strong enough for you, drain and bottle.
That’s it! You now have apple cider vinegar!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How To Make: Homemade Apple Butter

Since last week was all about pumpkins, I thought that this week I would do nothing but apples! Apples are another great part of the fall harvest. There are so many varieties of apples, each of them having specific properties. Macintosh for example, are bright red with a sweet white flesh that becomes pretty soft when cooked. Gala apples are widely grown because they keep well and have a nice sweet flavor. This year, I have some apples called Duchess of Oldenburg. These are an early season apple, originating from Russia in the early 18th century and is considered an Heirloom variety.  These apples are great for cooking and is what I’ve been using this year because it was available from my favorite local farm, Blue Marble Farm.  If you can’t get your hand on these beauties, mac’s are the next best thing.  My version of apple butter is made in a crockpot. This allows me to cook the apples overnight without paying any attention to them. Then in the morning, the lid comes off, the temp goes up and they get stirred every so often. The crockpot helps prevent scorching that can occur when you cook it down over an open flame.

What You Need:

Several apples, cored and quartered
1/2 c apple cider, apple juice or water
1/2 c honey
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp cloves

What To Do:

In a large, 6 quart crock pot, mix all the ingredients together. Put the lid on, turn it to low and cook for 10-12 hours.  I do not remove the skin from my apples. It gives the finished apple butter a bit more character. If you don’t want skin floating through your apple butter, peel them and save them for making apple cider vinegar. (I’ll tell you how in a post later this week.)
In the morning, remove the lid and turn the crock pot to high. At this point, I remove some of the apples and blend them in my blender so that they are bit finer in texture. This is not a step you have to do unless you’ve used an apple that holds there shape when cooked.
Continue cooking on high with the lid removed for most of the day. By remove the lid, you let some of heat escape which in turn helps to prevent from scorching. You’re apple butter is done when it’s nice and thick and there is no more liquid. Pack into sterile jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

To Be, or Not To Be


That really is the question. Just recently, I had to write a comparison essay for an English class that I am taking. My choice of topic? Food of course! Well, really I compared the differences of a locavore to that of a traditional food consumer. I wanted to share this essay with you because it is something that I am passionate about. Plus, with October being unprocessed challenge month, this essay fits right in. Please understand that this essay isn’t done in my typical writing style. Normally, I’m writing to you, my readers and I address you as such. However for class, everything has to be in third person. I would really love to know what kind of eater you are? Has this essay made you think about what you buy? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Traditional, Locavore, In-between?

There is a food movement sweeping the United States. Americans have decided to take their food into their own hands locally. However, most people have never heard of the word Locavore, let alone know what one is. It is important, now more than ever, to understand the differences between a traditional food family and a Locavore family. Why? Well, most of our food has become highly processed, full of chemicals instead of real ingredients. Our food also comes from all over the world where standards are not as high as those in America. This has caused several issues with the American food supply. Just recently, for example, there was an outbreak of listerosis involving cantaloupe from a farm in Colorado ("FDA"). To make better food choices, it is important to understand the differences between a Locavore and a traditional food consumer.

Most American are traditional eaters. This basically means that they go into a grocery store, or several stores, compare prices and buy whatever looks good that day. They may go in with a list of items that they need for the week and they tend to stick to that list. They might pick up chips, soda or pop, bread, meats or vegetables, without giving a second thought to where it comes from or what ingredients are contained within. Americans are all about conveniences and therefore, they fit the traditional consumer category. Americans want fresh tomatoes in the cold winter months, or oranges in August. With traditional food shopping, there is no such thing as what is in season; almost everything is available year round for our cooking and eating pleasure.

A traditional food consumer is not concerned with the fact that the red tomatoes they pick up off the shelf didn’t start out that way. In fact, those red tomatoes were picked and loaded onto a truck or airplane when they are still green. Traditional food consumers are not concerned that those rock hard red tomatoes from the store are actually green ones that have been gassed to look red. The grocery store tomatoes do not have any flavor and often taste bad. A traditional food consumer is only concerned with the fact that tomatoes can be purchased year round for a salad or other dish. To ask a traditional food consumer where the tomato came from and the answer is likely to be unknown.

The direct opposite of a traditional eater or consumer, is a Locavore. Locavores know where the tomatoes purchased came from. Oxford dictionary defines a Locavore as “a persons whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food” (Oxford Dictionary). The term is still a little generalized as it can mean buying or eating food grown in varying distances from where a person’s home is. Some Locavores consider food grown or produced in the United States as local, while others on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, hyperlocavores, only buy or eat what comes from the neighborhood they live in (McLellan). The majority of Locavores however, eats or buys foods produced within 100 miles from where a person lives.

To be a Locavore also means to know about the community. A Locavore knows what farms have available at certain times of year. Locavores learn to can or preserve produce or how to store things properly so that the food can still be eaten during the colder months when produce isn’t available. Being a Locavore isn’t just purchasing produce locally. In most areas a Locavore can find meats, eggs, milk and cheese that are all grown, harvested and produced close to that persons home (Maiser). Since Locavores know where the food comes from, Locavores often understand that eating locally is also better for the environment as it creates less waste and great reduces a person’s carbon foot print.

Of course a person doesn’t have to be one or the other. Several people are Locavores when fruits and vegetables are in season. Locavores purchase vegetables, fruits, eggs and other goods from farmers markets or through CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), during the harvest seasons in the communities where they live. In the off season, goods are purchased from a local super market or grocery store, always being mindful of where the goods are coming from. Traditional food consumers are not concerned where the goods are coming from. Traditional consumers will eat tomatoes in winter and oranges in summer. Now that the facts have been presented it is time to decide. Is it time to continue on the path of being a traditional eater or is it time to make the change and become a Locavore, not to just become a healthier eater, but to help create a better environment as well.

"FDA warns consumers not to eat Rocky Ford Cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms." FDA. N.p., 14 Sep 2011. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

Maiser, Jennifer. "10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore." PBS. N.p., 02 Nov 2007. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

McLellan, Liz. "100 Reason."Hyperlocavore (The Blog). 20 Jan 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <>.

Oxford Dictionary. Online. Web. 13 Oct 2011. <>.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maple Pumpkin Bread


Here is the last of my pumpkin recipes for a while. If you’ve missed any of them, here they are:

Pumpkin Puree
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin Pancakes

My last recipe for pumpkin bread is what is known as a Quick bread. All this really means is that it doesn’t use yeast as a raising agent. Quick breads tend to end up drive and that is usually because of over mixing. You can mix your wet ingredients for as long as you want, but as soon as you put the flour into it and give it a mix, gluten starts to develop. It’s important to just mix the ingredients together until just barely combined. It’s okay if you still see a little bit of dry flour hanging around. I like to fold my dry ingredients into the wet to insure that I’m over mixing. My pumpkin bread is scrumptious. It’s moist, flavorful and everything a good pumpkin bread should be.

What You Need:

2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c maple syrup (the real stuff, I’ve never tried the recipe with pancake syrup)
1/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 c veg oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 c chopped toasted walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan well and set aside.
In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla. Mix well so that everything is incorporated evenly.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, toasted walnuts, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Dump the entire thing into the wet ingredients. Fold in the dry until just combined. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

There are thousand of pumpkin pie recipes on the net, so what makes mine different? Well first, I don’t use an entire cup of sugar to sweeten my pie. The processed white stuff just didn’t belong here. The second difference? I don’t use evaporated or condensed milk either. Even with these two huge changes, my pumpkin pie is still sweet, creamy, and heavenly. Plus with your own pumpkin puree, you get a sense of pride knowing that you made everything from start to finish, and it’s no harder then opening up a can of “pumpkin” which really can be anything but. Did you know that the type of “pumpkin” Libbys, the biggest producer of canned pumpkin, uses only variety which looks more like a butternut squash then a pumpkin. The last difference is the addition of just a touch of molasses. It darkens the pie a bit and adds just a hint of incredible flavor.

What You Need:

1 pie crust (store bought is fine, but I suggest making your own)
2 c pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 c half and half or whole milk
1/2 c REAL maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave
1 tbs molasses
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 350.
Whisk the eggs with the milk until thoroughly combined. Add in the pumpkin puree, molasses, sweetener and the spices. Mix really well.
Place your pie with, the crust inside, onto the bottom rack of your oven. Pour the pie filling into the crust. This makes getting the pie to the oven without spilling much easier!
Bake for about 50 minutes or until the pie set and just barely giggles in the middle. Let cool and serve with whipped cream.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

So last week I gave you a post showing you how to make your own pumpkin puree. This week, I’m going to show you what to do with. That’s pretty nice of me isn’t? Plus, I do have a ton of pumpkin puree now and while I did freeze most of it, I did make pumpkin pancakes and of course, a pumpkin pie this weekend. Now I’m sure you’re all thinking that I should start with the recipe for the pumpkin but that is dessert and you should always eat breakfast before dessert so that’s where I’m starting too. It’s a pretty simple recipe and it will impress any pumpkin lover in your family. It’s also a nice way to get your kids to eat more veggies. A pumpkin is a veggie after all!
What You Need:
Your favorite pancake recipe
2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs maple syrup
What To Do:
After making your favorite pancake batter, stir in the pumpkin, cinnamon and maple syrup. Drop the batter onto hot, butter griddle or pan and cook, flipping once bubbles have started forming on the top. Serve with more maple syrup.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How To: Make Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkins are abundant during the fall.Pumpkins are a winter vegetable and are another type of squash. They come from the Curcurbita family, which includes other squash as well as watermelons and cucumbers.There are several varieties of pumpkins. The ones we are most familiar with are the large round pumpkins that people carve every year. While they have several names, most people refer to them as jack o lantern pumpkins. This type of pumpkin is closely related to summer squash; with they’re thin walls and stringy flesh. These pumpkins have a tough orange skin and a paler orange, fibrous flesh. While they are great for carving, they are not all that tasty for consuming. This is not saying that you can’t make a pie with them, it just isn’t recommended. Perhaps the best pumpkins for consumption are crooked neck squash. Most of them have tan colored skin and orange flesh. They are not what a person would typically think of as a pumpkin. In fact, butternut squash fits this category and is often found in commercially canned pumpkin puree. A pumpkin that goes by the name of “Cheese pumpkin” is probably the best for making pies. They are found mostly in the New England States, at farm stands and farmers markets. These will not produce a pumpkin puree that doesn’t become grainy or stringy when cooked down, nor does it become very watery. In reality, sugar pumpkins are more easily to find. I recommend using a blend of sugar pumpkins, which are smaller and round, along with butternut squash.

What You Need:

pumpkin or a mixture of pumpkin and squash

What To Do:

Wash the outer skin of the pumpkins and dry well. Cut in half and scoop the seeds. They can be saved and roasted as a yummy snack, otherwise, just toss them. Once the seeds are gone, cut each have in half again so you end up with quarters. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and into an oven. Turn the oven on to 400 and once it reaches temp, cook the pumpkin for 30 to 45 minutes. You want the pumpkin to be soft, but not mushy. This step does a few things. It starts the cooking process, starts to caramelize the sugars in the pumpkin making it sweeter, and soften the skin so that it’s easier to peel. Remove from the oven and once it’s cool to the touch, take a pairing knife and start removing the skin. Place the now skinless pumpkin into a steamer basket, or a colander over a pot that it large enough to hold it without it sitting completely inside. Put a few inches of water in the bottom and turn the heat to high. Steam for about 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is completely done, nice and soft. Then you can either transfer to a bowl and puree using an imersion or stick blender, or using a stand up blender. Once it’s completely cool once more, transfer to air tight containers or zip top bags in two cup quantities. Two cups is about 1 15-16oz can of pumpkin.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How to Make: Pumpkin Butter


Pumpkins are another thing that I love about the Fall. Really though, who doesn’t? You can carved jack o’lanterns, make pumpkin pie, and of course pumpkin butter. It’s a lot like apple butter, using most of the same ingredients and of course time, but tastes a heck of a lot like pumpkin pie! This does take some time. It’s not that it’s a hard process, just a long one. Peeling pumpkins, cooking them down, pureeing them and then cooking them even more. It is worth it though. Of course you can always start with pureed pumpkin out of a can but I like the satisfaction that I get doing it completely from scratch.

What You Need:

A sugar pumpkin, about 2-2 1/2 pounds. These are not carving pumpkins.
1 c apple cider or apple juice
1/2 c maple syrup (the real stuff) or 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamom (optional but gives bigger flavors)

What To Do:

Wash the pumpkin and peel with  a veggie peeler to remove the tough skin. Cut in half and scoop out the sides and the stringy stuff. Cut into chunks about 1 inch in size and place into a large enough pot so that all the pumpkin is in a single layer. Pour in enough apple cider/juice to come about half way up the sides of the pumpkin. Turn the heat on medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pumpkin is soft, making sure to stir it a few times along the way.  This takes about 30 minutes. Puree the mixture, either using a stick blender or in batches using a regular blender. Return the pot. Stir in the maple syrup and the spices. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often, making sure to bring the pumpkin up off the bottom of pan. Keep cooking until it’s nice and thick and the bubbles take a long time to pop. It will take another 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool. Place into a container and store in the fridge.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Nothing says that fall is here quite like the abundance of winter squash that floods the markets and one of the best butternut. Butternut squash has a sweet, mild, buttery flavor that doesn’t become stringy like most other winter squashes when cooked. This quality is what makes butternut a perfect choice to turn into soup. Butternut squash soup is warming on a cold rainy fall day. It warms the heart and it warms the soul. It’s an incredible easy soup to make, requiring a few, every day ingredients and even fewer steps. Some people like to cook the squash in whatever liquid they choose to use, however by roasting the squash, it starts to caramelize which produces a soup that full of flavor, with very little effort. By the way, after roasting and pureeing the squash, this makes a wonderful first food for an infant.

What You Need:

Approx. 2 lbs of butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one inch chunks
2-3 garlic cloves, skins still on
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp sage
2 cups of veggie stock
1/2 to 1 cup of half and half, milk or heavy cream
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash and garlic cloves with the oil, sage and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes. You want the squash to be super soft and tender. Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for a bit. Place the squash and veggie stock into a blender along with the garlic, making to to squeeze the now roasted garlic from its skins. Place the lid back on the blender, along with the a kitchen towel over the top. Start the blender on low speed so that the pressure from the still semi hot squash doesn’t create a vacuum and blow the lid off the blender. Once you’ve got your mixture pureed, empty it into a pot over medium low heat. Once the soup has started to bubble, stir in the half and half. Use as much half and half as you like to get it to your desired consistency. I like a thicker soup so I only used about 1/2 a cup.  Serve!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Caesar Panini


Hey guys! Sorry I’ve been pretty absent this week.  My parents were up visiting and we’ve been going non stop the last few days, ending with me getting a third molar pulled this morning. I didn’t want to leave you completely recipe-less for the week so here is a quick one. This is a sammie I ate from a little pizza place where my parents live. It was incredible so of course I had to make it at home too. It’s now one of my favorite sammies and I love dipping it into balsamic vinegar. Hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do!


The Recipe:

Top a slice of Focaccia  with grilled chicken that has been thinly sliced, a few thin slices of tomato, and some lettuce. Spread your favorite Caesar salad dressing onto another slice of focaccia and sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top. Sandwich the two focaccia pieces together and press firmly. Serve with balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Asian Chicken Salad


Salads are one of favorite things to eat. No, I’m not a rabbit, but I love crunchy veggies on top of lettuce. Oh and not just any lettuce, but usually mixed greens. I’m not an iceberg kind of girl. Besides not having a taste, it doesn’t have any nutrition either. This salad is topped with shredded carrots, grilled chicken and almond with a yummy ginger soy dressing. Try it soon, before the fall season is here to stay and fresh veggies are hard to come by.

What You Need

8 cups mixed greens
2 chicken breasts, cooked (approx. 1 lb)
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 medium cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 c shredded carrots
½ c sliced almonds
¼ c olive oil
2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs soy
1 tbs honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

What To Do:

Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside. Arrange two cups of the mixed greens onto 4 plates. Divide the rest of the ingredients among the plates and drizzle with the dressing.  This would also be good with mandarin oranges and those crunchy Chinese noodles.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Product Review: Godiva Ground Coffee

As part of the Food Buzx, Tastemaker program, I was sent two free limited addtion flavors of Godiva coffee. We all know Godiva for the wonderful tasting chocolate and now they're getting into the coffee biz as well. I can't find any information on whether they are fair trade certified or not. It doesn't say so on either bag and since this product is so new, I'm having a hard time finding any information on the internet. This could be just an oversight, but as some one who looks for such a label on her coffee, as do a lot of people I know, it could be a negative aspect to their marketing.

The first flavor I tried was Caramel Pecan Bark. The bag says: "Rich, smooth caramel and toasted pecans with a creamy Godiva milk chocolate finish." This is a medium roast coffee and while it tastes alright, I certainly do not get any hints of caramel, chocolate or even a nuttiness to it. It does however, smell incredible.

The second flavor was Pumpkin Spice and the bag boasts "Warm pumpkin flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet vanilla cream notes. Again this is a medium roast. The smell, once again, is incredible. It does smell just a freshly baked pumpkin pie. I get the sweetness of the pumpkin and the smell of the nutmeg just permeates the are. The sad part? The taste of this one was lacking too. There was an almost bitterness to this coffee. I do get a taste of the nutmeg, but between that and the bitterness, it over powers everything else.

Bottom line, would I buy this for myself? Probably not :(                        

Monday, September 19, 2011

Garlic Aioli


Aioli is really just a fancy name for mayonnaise. They are made with pretty much the same ingredients, but a garlic aioli has a garlic bite to it. I know, you’re probably saying, “Well duh!” Me too, but it was a good way of explaining it right? Garlic aioli is great on burgers, sammies, as a dipper for fries and really yummy on fish. It’s smooth and creamy and the garlic gives it a wonderful almost spicy taste. The only important step you need to remember, is to have everything at room temp. Having your ingredients cold, could result in the sauce separating and not being smooth and creamy.

What You Need:

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 egg yolk, room temp
1 tbs lemon juice, room temp
2/3 c olive oil
salt and pepper

What To Do:

In a blender combine the garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Turn on and let it go until the garlic is chopped fine. With the blender going, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Something Old and Something New

The something new is going to be the inclusion of freezer and make ahead recipes. The something old is revisions on some of the older recipes. I've decided to do this for a few reasons. The first is that, thanks to Pinterest, I've become an organizing freak. I always stayed organized for the most part but once I found ways to create a menu plan for an entire year, I dove head first into it. Another reason is that I've become addicted to double and triple batching things to save for a later date, only to forget about them. I have always loved pulling something from the freezer on nights that I really don't feel like cooking. This saves my family money because then we're ordering out and partaking of food that really isn't all that good for us.
The last reason is because I need some time to get the blog itself organized. It was brought to my attention that most my links in the index were coming up as errors. It seems like each time I updated the list, it lost all the links from the previous updates. This was upsetting to say the least. I have well over 200 recipes here and well, I need to do the entire list again! I also need to get recipes typed up, pictures cropped and edited since I don't have the greatest camera or lighting and the list continues. I'm not saying that I won't post any new recipes at all. What I am saying is that during the next few weeks, you might only get one completely new recipe a week, but you'll also get a couple revisions.
So that is the plan for now. I'm not sure how long this will last, but I'm guess for at least the next month or two. I hope to have every thing completed and ready to roll by the first of the year. I know that seems a ways off but it really is closer then you think! For now, check the Facebook page and twitter for links to the updated recipes as I will always let you know when I do one. In fact, I've done two for you already. Check out the left side of the page and you're notice two new categories. One says freezer/make ahead meals and the other says revisions. If you click on revisions it will bring up all the posts that I have revised to date. Right now it contains freezer/make head recipe for my No Fail Cream Corn and an alternate way to make your own Tortilla Chips. Just check out the bottom of those posts for the info!
As always I wish you all Happy Cooking!

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Make: Sour Cream

Okay, I lied. You can't make sour cream in the united states due to the fact that any cream you buy in a store has been pasteurized, thus killing the good bacteria that turn heavy cream into sour cream. However, you can make Creme Fraiche, which is very similar to sour cream but not as thick. All it requires is heavy cream, good yogurt, a very clean glass jar and some time.

What You Need:

3 parts heavy cream
1 part good quality yogurt.

What To do:

First off, let me tell you about GOOD quality yogurt. This is going to be plain, no flavors. Flavors mean sugar and we don't need that for making creme fraiche. The next thing is finding a yogurt with live active cultures. This is what makes yogurt what it is. It's the bacteria that do all the work making your final product. So, all you do is  pour the heavy cream and yogurt into a jar, give it stir or a shake to combine, pop on a lid and set it in a warm spot of your kitchen. After 12 to 24 hours you will have creme fraiche. Don't worry if it still looks pretty liquidy. Just give it a stir and keep it in the fridge. The cold stalls the growth of the bacteria, as well as thickens up the creme a bit more. Enjoy on anything you'd enjoy sour cream on or in.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mexican Torta


Torta are a simple Mexican street food. Really it’s just a very yummy sammie! Traditionally tortas are served on a special type of roll called bolillo. Since I live in an area with almost no Hispanic population, I can’t find a lot of the specialty type items. Instead, I took a loaf of Italian bread and cut it into big sections, then cut in half length ways, so that I would have a top and a bottom. It worked out great and the sammie was incredible. The spicy grilled chicken pairs really nice with cooling, creamy, avocado.

What You Need:

4, thinly sliced chicken breast
4 large round rolls or Italian bread cut into pieces
1 large ripe avocado, sliced
1 large tomato sliced
chipotle mayo
salt and pepper
olive oil

What To Do:

Preheat your grill. Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne. Once the grill is hot, cook your chicken about 2-3 minutes per side or until no longer pink in the middle. Brush both sides of the Italian bread with some olive oil and place on the cool side of the grill. You want it to warm up and get a little toasty.

To assemble the sammie, place some of the chipotle mayo on the bottom roll. Top with a chicken breast, a slice of tomato and a few slices of avocado and the top bun. Smush it all together and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Locavore Sammie


Have you heard the term Locavore before? It simply means someone who tries to eat only local grown or produced foods. Think of it as a “farm to table” movement in order to reduce carbon footprints, enhance sustainability and stimulate local economies. Not only that, but eating local grown foods, often means you obtain the freshest, tastiest food possible.  If you’ve read my posts or tweets lately, you’ll see that every Thursday I head to our local farmers market to get all  my fruits and veggies that I need for the week. If they don’t have it, chances are it isn’t in season, and I don’t buy it. Also you would have saw that a few weeks ago, my family and I were invited to enjoy a harvest picnic put on by Blue Marble Farm.  Everything we ate that night was either grown in their garden or in the case of the bread and cheese, was produced locally at other farms in the area. Lisa and Jeff, the owners of Blue Marble Farm, are doing everything right. They run a beautiful one acre farm, that while isn’t certified organic, they follow the organic process. They also have free range chickens and lots of them! It was a great pleasure to see their farm that night and learn how they grow everything. My favorite food is the little cherry tomatoes. When they are in my bag, they usually don’t make it home. They end up in my belly. They’re just so sweet and juicy that I can’t get enough of them. The night of the picnic they made these incredible sammies that were nothing more then local bread, topped with thinly sliced and grilled zucchini and yellow summer squash, locally made cheddar cheese and pea greens. Yes, you read that right, I said pea greens. The flavors were so simple, so clean, something as Americans, we don’t often appreciate. The next week, Lisa had pea greens at the market and you know I snatched them up. I went right home and recreated the sammie. It was just as good as I remembered. If you can’t get pea greens, you can substitute spicy arugula and enjoy the flavors all the same.

What You Need:

2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
4 rolls or slices of bread
pea greens or arugula
4 slices of cheddar cheese

What To Do:

Preheat your grill. Once it’s hot, quickly grill the squash. You want it to be nice and soft and have dark grill marks, but not burnt. Because the squash is sliced thin, it cooks fairly quickly. Then just layer your sammie. Bottom roll, cheese, grilled squash, pea greens, top roll and enjoy, knowing you are helping out your local economy, reducing your carbon footprint and loving something good!

Friday, September 2, 2011

How To Make: Peanut Butter!!

I was so excited the first time even just the idea popped into my head. I’ve mentioned a number of times before that I’m not happy with how the United States runs our food industry. I’m not happy seeing studies that link soy to infertility, that link growth hormones (which is in our milk and beef) to puberty happening in our children at such an early age. And by early I’m not talking 12ish, I’m talking about parents brining they’re little girls into to see the doctor because she hit puberty in kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN! So I’m a HUGE advocate for buying local, buying organic and making everything I can possible can at home. It’s not just delicious meals that I like to bring to my readers, but I hope to show you that every day items you buy from the shelves really don’t take much effort to make in your own homes. Most of the time, it’s cost effective too. Take Wednesday post about making your own Jam. It cost me just over a dollar a jar to make. Peanut butter is the same way. I bought one pound of peanuts from the bulk section for under three dollars. When I compare that to the the popular brands at my local grocery store, it’s roughly the same price. However, the biggest difference is mine has much less sugar and no added salt. Do you know that Americans consume roughly 4000 mg of sodium daily. WHO (World Health Org) recommends not exceeding 2400 mg while other health agencies suggest not exceeding 1500 mg.  So now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you need some fancy equipment to make peanut butter right? Nope, wrong. I made it in my food processor and I have to tell you, it’s not some fancy high powered brand either. Besides, once you taste real home made peanut butter, you’ll never go back. I’m certainly not. Oh and one more thing. I’m not sure if this will work for ALL types of nuts but I have also had success with cashew. If anyone try’s a different type of nut, such as almonds, please let me know how it turned out!
What You Need:
1lb roasted, UNSALTED peanuts, no skins (unless you like them in your peanut butter)
2 tbs honey
2 tbs Peanut or Veg oil
What To Do:
Grind the peanuts up a bit in the food processor until they’re chunky, like what you find to top ice cream with. Add in your honey and turn the food processor back on. With it running on high, very slowly add in your oil. You’ll see the peanuts go from chunks, to a paste. At first, it's going to look like a big glob and you'll think you need more oil, but trust me you don't. Just let your food processor do the work and in another minute or two, you'll see nice creamy peanut butter. You’ll never get “smooth” peanut butter that you would buy in a store, but the more you let the food processor go, the less coarse the peanut butter will become. The amount of oil needed will also depend on the fat content of the type of peanut you buy, Spanish peanuts tend to have a high oil content.  Store in an air tight container for up to 2 months in the fridge.
You can also do this almonds.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to Make: Homemade, no sugar/low sugar Jam


Every couple of years I make jam/preserves/jelly whatever you want to call them. I say every couple of years because I tend to make two to three dozen jars at a time. I know what you thinking, “What the heck does she do with it all!” Well, I’ll you. First, I have two kids who are PBJ-aholics. You ask my daughter what she wants for lunch and she will tell you, “PB-Jelly please!” How can I tell her no? Now I know you’re thinking about all the sugar that is in not only the jelly but the peanut butter as well, but since this post is how to make jelly and not peanut butter, we’ll only focus on the jelly for now. The sugar in my jelly, is all natural. It comes from the fruit it self and nothing else. Now that the sugar issue is explained, lets get down to the cost. When the particular fruit you want to use is in season and you can get it for cheap, then do so, BUT make sure the fruit is ripe and taste good. “Ripe” fruit you get in a store is usually far from being truly ripe and never had a chance to develop flavor. Here’s my secret. I use frozen fruit! Frozen fruit is always picked when it’s ripe. They are always sweet and I know you probably have a bag in your freezer right now for smoothies. Frozen fruits have always made the best jams for me and because they’re frozen, most brands haven’t added any additional sugar either. The next thing you need are canning jar. I use the half pint jars because it works better for my family then the real tiny jars. I don’t get the fancy ones either. Just the regular half pint jars with bands and lids.  The last thing you need is pectin and maybe some lemon juice. The pectin is what makes jam, jam. It binds the fruit and juice together to create the giggly consistency. You can find it in any super market, right where you’d find the canning jars. I don’t buy the boxes anymore either. I used too, but I found out that one packaged wasn’t enough for my jams to set properly. So now, I buy the container. Make sure you buy the one that says no sugar/low sugar formula. Otherwise, you’re looking at about 5 cups of sugar for a batch of jam.  Then all you do is follow the directions. This particular brand let me do anywhere from 2 to 10 jars at a time. For every two jars I needed a specific amount of fruit, water and pectin. I could add sugar or honey if I choose too and certain fruits, like blueberries, required some lemon juice as well. I will tell you that my batches of 10 jars, only made batches of 8 jars. Why? Not sure, but this has always been the case when it come to me and making jams.

So I crushed my fruit, stirred in the water and pectin and boiled away. Once it was cooked, I ladled it into my clean and sterilized jars, put the tops on and into my water bath canner it went. Don’t have a water bath canner? No problem! You just need a pot deep enough to cover your jars with 1 to 2 inches of boiling water. I could have done that in my pasta pot with no problem. Boil them for 10 minutes, carefully remove and let them cool for 24 hours. After that time, push down on the top. If it springs back, it didn’t seal and you need to store it in the fridge. If it did seal, store it in your pantry where it will last a few years. Oh and by the way. If you hear POP during the time the jars are in the canner or sitting on the counter, it’s alright. It’s just the sealing of the jar.

Once a jar of jam has been opened, store it in your fridge until it’s gone!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


There is a reason for the title being in caps. I mean, it IS bacon after all. It deserves to be capitalized and shouted from the roof tops. Bacon makes everything better. Having a bad day? Have some bacon! Boyfriend left you? Bacon will be there for you. It really is a cure all and there is nothing wrong with eating a couple pieces as long as you do so in moderation. The is only one thing that I don’t enjoy about bacon. Thankfully, cooking it in the oven means I don’t have to clean the stove top, my counters and the wall when I’m done with breakfast that morning. It also makes the perfect, crispy bacon, every time.
What You Need:
What To Do:
Lay you bacon out on a cold sheet pan, making sure it’s one with sides so you don’t cause a fire in your oven from the fat dripping every where. Place the pan full of bacon (or just a few pieces if it’s for you) into a COLD oven. When you start with a cold pan and a cold oven, the bacon warms up gradually and stays nice and long and flat. It won’t curl up and shrink. Turn the oven to 400 degree and cook for about 15 minutes or until it’s cooked to your desired crispness. Remove the bacon from the tray and let drain on paper towels. Enjoy the deliciousness!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Veggie Egg’s Benedict


Here is the third and final egg’s benedict recipe. If you missed the first two, you can find them here and here. Again, I’m not typing this recipe up in the usually format because there isn’t much of a recipe to it. You need the sauce from the classic recipe, a tsp or so of olive oil, and two slices each zucchini and tomato. I used a great big round zucchini so my slices were as big as a piece of Canadian bacon would be. If yours aren’t as big, you might want two or three slices. I sliced both the tomato and the zucchini to be about 1/4 inch thick.

All you do, is heat up a sauté pan with the olive oil. Season the zucchini with a bit of salt and pepper and once the pan is nice and hot add in the zucchini. After about a minute or two it should be nice and golden on the bottom so give it a flip and cooking for another minute so that the zucchini is softened but isn’t mush. I placed a tomato slice on top of each zucchini slice after I flipped them so that the tomato would be warmed through.

To assemble, place your zucchini and tomato stacks onto a plate, top each stack with a poached egg, and some of the classic hollandaise sauce. I add some fresh chopped parsley to the top and some fresh shredded parmesan cheese would go really well too.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Birds Eye Voila Frozen Meals and A Gift For You!

Chicken Alfredo
As part of’s Taste Makers program, I was selected to try out Birds Eye Voila Frozen Meals. I picked up a few different bags and tried them out. They were actually pretty yummy! They were super quick to make, taking about 15 minutes and it prepared a balanced meal. The family size bag is perfect for us and my kids loved the fact that they’re veggies had a “sauce” on them too. I do think they could use a bit more flavor as the Cheesy Chicken was a touch bland. We also tried the Alfredo chicken and that one was good. There are several more varieties on the market to choose from too. I checked out the ingredient list and it seemed okay. There were a few ingredients I could have lived without, like hydronated oils, but for busy nights, I could see myself pulling a bag out of the freezer.
Oh and guess what?!?! Birds eye has given me a special gift to share with all of you! To the first 5 readers to leave a comment on this post, I’m going to give 5 buy one get one free coupons for Birds Eye Voila!!! Yes I said 5 BOGO coupons! How cool is that? Just leave me a comment with your email and I’ll send you an email asking where I should send your coupons! Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

South West Egg’s Benedict


Here is the second version I promised you and this one has a spicy kick! I’m not using my usual format here of an ingredients list and then directions. Why? Because there is only a few small changes you need to make to the original recipe found here.

So here’s what you do. After making the classic hollandaise sauce, add to the blender 1 chipotle in adobo and blend it again until it’s full combined. If you don’t want something super spicy, just add in a bit of the sauce until it’s to your liking.

Then warm a small corn tortilla and give it a smear of heated refried beans. I used about 1/4 cup. Top that off with your two poached eggs and two tablespoons of your spicy hollandaise sauce, some diced tomatoes, a bit of cilantro and a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Classic Egg’s Benedict


I don’t do a lot of breakfast dishes on GOC and I’m not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I don’t cook breakfast that often? My kids love they’re cereal or scrambled eggs and I only make pancakes on the weekends so perhaps that has something to do with it. Lately however, I’ve been on this egg’s benedict kick. I’ve eaten them almost every morning for past week or so and I even purchased some Canadian bacon to do it the right way.  One of the main components of the dish, Hollandaise sauce, can be scary to make for some. You’ll see recipes out there telling you to use clarified butter or how you need to carefully and quickly whisk the sauce over a water bath. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case. You can do those things of course and make a perfect hollandaise the way that fancy chefs do it, or you can do the easy, only have a few minutes, mom way. With a blender. I have three different versions of Egg’s Benedict this week for you. This recipe is for the classic and will be the basic recipe that the other two are based off of.

What You Need:


2 egg yolks
1 tbs lemon juice
1 stick butter
salt and pepper

For Each Person:

1 English muffin, toasted
2 pieces of Canadian bacon, heated through
2 poached eggs (I cheat and use a store bought egg poaching pan)
2 tbs Hollandaise sauce
chopped parsley (optional)

What To Do:

To make the sauce, heat the butter over medium heat in a small sauce pan until it’s completely melted and bubbly. In a blender, add the egg yolks, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. With the lid on the blender, turn it to high to start blending the yolks. If you have a pour spout on your blenders lid, then use that. Otherwise remove the lid to the blender and in a very slow steady stream, add in the melted butter. The trick is to keep most of the white frothy stuff in your pan. Don’t worry if you get it some or all of it in your sauce. It really won’t have much affect on the taste. The important part is to make sure you’re adding the butter in slow and steady. Turn the blender off and marvel at your beautiful, thick, golden hollandaise sauce.  Here’s two quick tips: If you sauce thickens up while your making the rest of the breakfast, just blend in a tablespoon or two of very hot tap water. This will help to remelt the butter.  If you have leftover sauce, keep it in the fridge, in an airtight container. To reheat it, pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds. Give it a stir and pop it back in for another 5 seconds. Continue doing this until the butter has melted and becomes a sauce again. It’s important to only use 5 second intervals. If you put it in the microwave and just let it go, you’ll actually end up with scrambled eggs. You can also reheat the sauce by setting it over hot water and stirring it while it warms. The point is to do the re-warming gently.

To assemble your eggs benedict place your English muffin halves on a plate. Top them with the Canadian bacon, then the poached eggs and finally top each egg with 1 tbs of the sauce. Sprinkle some parsley over the top. Not only does it make it look pretty, but I really like the flavor it gives to the entire dish. Eggs benedict can be heavy and the parsley gives it a freshness to cut through all that.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Red Curry Grilled Chicken


I’ve been trying to get into Thai style cooking more and more but honestly what I know of it, is that it’s spicy. That doesn’t sit well with my husband who ends up with reflux attacks. I’ve had a small jar of red curry paste in my pantry for awhile but I’ve been scared to use it as it’s supposed to be the hottest. Loving spicy food myself, I decided to just go for it one night. I would give it a taste and see what I could to make it enjoyable for my husband as well. I tasted the curry paste by itself and it really wasn’t all that hot to me. It was spicy, meaning there was a lot of flavorful spices to it, but it wasn’t hot spicy. I mixed in some honey and rice wine vinegar to help balance the flavors and then slathered over some chicken legs. The results were an explosion in my mouth. I absolutely loved it. So did my husband. I served it up with some coconut rice and a simple cucumber salad. I’ll post the recipe for my cucumbers on GOC’s facebook page today so you’ll have that. This isn’t just for chicken legs. You can use it on breasts or wings too.

What You Need:

2 tbs red curry paste
2 tbs honey
1 tbs rice wine vinegar
4 chicken legs
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Combine the curry paste, honey and vinegar until mixed well. Season both sides of the chicken legs with salt and pepper and cover completely with all of the paste. Let sit for 30 minutes before preheating your grill. Once the grill is hot, place the chicken legs on your grill, skin side down for about 5 minutes or until the skin is crisp. Flip the legs over and turn the heat to low. Continue cooking the chicken until it’s not longer pink in the middle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken Caprese


Caprese combines the best things of summer, tomatoes and basil with some fresh mozzarella threw in. Now imagine those ingredients rolled up in a juicy chicken cutlet. The cheese melts, the tomatoes get soft and juicy and the basil gets fragrant. It’s a wonderful bit of heaven in your mouth.

What You Need:

4 chicken cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
4 basil leaves
4 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
4 bite sized mozzarella balls, cut into quarters
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
olive oil
1/2 c chicken stock

What To Do:

Season the chicken cutlets with the garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Make sure to use a skillet with a tight fitting lid. While you’re waiting for your pan to heat up, place 1 basil leaf followed by 4 cherry tomato quarters and 4 mozzarella quarters onto each chicken breast. Roll up to enclose as best as you can and secure with kitchen twine or tooth picks. Place in your heated pan and cook for a minute or two, or until the bottoms are browned. Flip them over, pour in the chicken stock and cover the pot with your lid. Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the chicken cooked all the way through and the filling is hot. The chicken stock will have reduced down some to make a nice sauce if you’d like.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Classic: Ice Box Cake


I remember by very first job was working as an office girl for a campground and canoe rental place that my uncle owned. I was all of 14 and so excited to be working and making money for things that my parents wouldn’t buy. Even then I loved to cook and I remember my uncle asking me if I knew how to make an ice box cake. Of course, I had never heard of this before so I asked my mom. Basically, it’s an old fashion favorite made with whipped cream and very thin, very crisp, chocolate cookies. Those cookies are pretty hard to find anymore. They’re usually on the top shelf, hidden in between other cookies that have lost their way.  You can find them, you just have to look really really well. They come in a rectangular yellow box, that is wrapped in plastic. Honestly, I’m not sure who even makes them. Guess I should have paid attention when I found them. You know you have the right box when you flip it over and there is a recipe on the back for “Old Fashion Ice Box Cake.”

What You Need:

1 package very thin chocolate cookies
1 tub cool whip
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
Hot Fudge for garnish you like

What To Do:

Mix the vanilla into the cool whip if using. I don’t ever use it, but it helps give a bit more flavor to the cake. Then all you do is place a dollop of cool whip onto each cookie and sort of sandwich them all together. They stand up on their edge to form a “cake” shape. Then cover the entire thing with the remaining cool whip and place into the fridge for at least 4 hours. The cookies become soft to form a cake like texture. Cut into diagonal slices and serve!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Video: Breaking Down a Whole Chicken


Here it is! The second ever video on GOC. I am having a blast thinking of things I can show you guys on a video. It’s pretty fun to make them. This time I did it by myself and used a trusty tripod to hold the video camera but I think it still came out pretty well. So, breaking down a chicken is pretty easy. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time and is pretty economical to do. For less then $1 a pound you can easy eat a few meals out of a single chicken. Nothing goes to waste either because the parts you typically don’t eat, like the neck and spine, can still be saved for making your own chicken stock. Enjoy the video and please let me know if you like them.

Oh and just a quick warning, I am a mom of two and you WILL hear my two kids in the background. They are always interested in watching me cook. In fact my daughter has helped me make things on numerous occasions and she’s only 2 and half. At one point, my son feels it was necessary to let out a few high pitched screams, so I wouldn’t turn the volume up very loud!

Breaking down a whole chicken

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mediterranean Pasta

I’ve really been liking the Mediterranean flavors lately, not to mention that the fact that I found out I like artichokes. This is a pretty quick and easy dish that was inspired by something my husband once had at a restaurant. It was penne pasta that was tossed with olives and various other things with a basil cream sauce. I opted for a tomato base and large wide noodles, oh and I added in some chicken for protein too.  It’s great for summer time as it has zucchini and yellow summer squash in it which you can always find in abundance. The flavors mesh really well, nothing is to over powering which makes it a really successful dish.
What You Need:
1 tbs olive oil
1lb chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into bite size pieces
1 can artichoke quarters
1 1/2 c crush tomatoes
1/2 c pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 tbs dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 lb pasta, cooked till al dente and drained (use either a wide flat noodle or a hallow noodle like penne)
What To Do:
Place a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook in the skillet with the olive oil until no more pink is showing. Add in the zucchini, yellow squash, artichoke quarters and garlic and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is tender but not not mush. Add in the crushed tomatoes, oregano and more salt and pepper if needed. Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce has started to bubble. Stir in the olives and toss it all together with the pasta before serving.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beef Braciole

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There as many recipes for beef braciole as there are Italian families. Each family has they’re own way of doing it. I keep mine pretty simple with prosciutto, some provolone, and an herb filled bread crumb stuffing. Although simple, it’s full of flavor. I get my butcher to slice a round roast to about 1/4 inch thick, fill it with my stuffing and then brown in a heavy bottom skillet or Dutch oven. I then top it with tomato sauce and let it simmer so that the beef becomes so tender you can cut it with a fork. This dish makes the perfect lazy Sunday supper.

What You Need:

1 1/2 lb pounds round roast, cut thinly (4 or 5 slices)
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 bread crumbs
1/2 parmesan cheese
3 tbs milk
handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 sprigs of oregano, chopped
a few basil leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 c red wine
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
4-5 slices prosciutto
4-5 slices provolone
olive oil
Kitchen twine or tooth picks

What To Do:

In a dutch oven or heavy bottom skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until soft and translucent. Turn the heat off and stir in the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and then the milk. The bread crumbs should be soft and moist. If not, add in a touch more milk. Then stir in the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Take each slice of beef and season with salt and pepper, then top with 1 slice of prosciutto and 1 slice of provolone each. Top with some of the crumb mixture, leaving a 1 inch border. Roll the meal slice up from the short ends. Tie with kitchen twine or secure with tooth picks so that it doesn’t come undone while cooking. Continue with the rest of the beef slices, but make sure to save about 1/4 cup of the filling. Place your dutch oven or heavy bottom skillet over medium high heat. Once hot add a bit more olive oil and your beef rolls. Cook for a few minutes on both sides or until browned. Turn the heat to low and add in the red wine. Move the beef rolls around a bit to make sure they are not stuck to the bottom, then add in the crushed tomatoes and the reserved filling. Stir it gently to combine, cover and let it just barely simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. After the hour, remove the beef from the sauce and let sit for a few minutes before slicing into one inch slices. Serve with a bit of the sauce over the top.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How To: Butcher a Quail

So this happens to be my first every video post! I’m excited and I plan to start doing this a little more often. Here’s a quick back story. Two years I raised chickens, but we didn’t have a fenced in area and most of them disappeared. This year, I decided to do it again. My brother in law Alec, re-did our chicken coop and created a nice big fenced in area for the birds. He also decided that he wanted to get and hatch some quail eggs. They were in the incubator for what seemed like forever but in reality it was one a few short weeks before they started hatching. Soon we had about 9 quail. Shortly after they were born, we lost two, and a few weeks after that we lost another one. By the time they were out in they’re special pen within the chicken coop, we were left with one female and 5 males. The males didn’t always get along and it was just a matter of time before we’d have to take care of a few of them. Which brings us to this video. Butchering quail is completely different then butchering chickens. It’s 100 times easier and faster.
Please be aware that video is very graphic. I am killing a very much alive quail, so if you’re of a sensitive nature, do not watch this video.
How To: Butcher Quail
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