Monday, February 10, 2014

Special Valentine's Day Treat - Elegant Chocolate Covered Strawberries


Valentine's Day is coming up soon, and here's a super simple special valentine treat to make and share with your special someone or your family or for a party.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New feature! Recipes from Grandmother's Kitchen -- Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Cake

Hey everyone!  I've found a neat website that doesn't mind if I share their recipes in my blog.  The website is -- http://grandmotherskitchen.org/ -- So on to the recipe --

Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients

Cake
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
4 Tablespoons dark chocolate, chopped fine
Icing1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons milk
Garnish
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x9 inch square baking dish.
  2. Put butter, sugar and molasses into a medium pot and stir over low heat until butter has melted. Turn off heat once butter has melted and stir in chocolate.
  3. Add flour, spices and baking soda to pot, and stir well.
  4. Add milk, egg and stir until smooth.
  5. Pour into pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool completely.
  6. To make the frosting. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, confectioners sugar, and cocoa. Beat in vanilla, 2 Tbsp milk. If icing is to thick add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time.
  7. Spread icing over cake and garnish with hazelnuts to serve.

Original Chocolate Ginger Hazelnut Cake Recipe found at Grandmothers Kitchen Recipes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jackie’s oven baked turkey

Here’s the turkey that I cooked:



1 Honeysuckle White young turkey, with the pop up timer, appx. 13-15 pounds


Now I had never cooked a turkey before.  My mom only cooked them at Thanksgiving, and I was usually busy with other things, food wise, at that time.  Also, now my mom was a great cook, but I never cared for her turkey.  Hubby and me, it’s just the two of us, so we usually had something else.

This year we were given the turkey, and so I thought, “Good time to try my hand at cooking a turkey, since it is free.”  I mean, I wouldn’t mind messing up on it if we got it for free.  So while the turkey thawed in the fridge, I formulated my plan.  Also, since we don’t have a lot of freezer space, I opted for going ahead and thawing it and cooking it.

The pan that I used.
Back in the good old days, a new stove would at least come with a broiling/roasting pan.  My roasting pan was given to me by my mom.  She had one from a newer stove, and when I got married, she gave me the broiler pan that came with her first stove.  It’s a beauty.  It’s old, and well used; stained and scratched - but boy does it cook.  And that is the pan I used.

photo taken after cooking turkey 
All the instructions say use a rack, but I didn’t have one; and didn’t have enough aluminum foil to try to make a substitute, so I opted to do without one.

Prepping the pan.
I gave the pan a more than generous coat of canola oil, then I poured a little bottled spring water in the bottom of the pan.  It’s been my experience that this helps out greatly with cleanup, and adds moisture to the meat you are cooking.

Prepping the turkey.
Make sure your turkey has been properly and completely thawed in the refrigerator.  You turkey package should have a chart telling how many days for what weight.  I did 4 days for a 13-15 pound turkey.

When I unwrapped the turkey, there was a lot of fluid in the package to drain.  What I recommend now, rather than what I did, is to poke a small hole in the bottom of the drumstick end of the turkey package.  Be sure you are over the sink when you do this, and drain out the liquid.  Be sure and have your other sink or counter lined with a clean, unused plastic garbage bag and paper towels; as a place to set you drained turkey. 

Remove the plastic wrap from your turkey.  Remove the neck and giblets which should be inside or in the front of the turkey.  We didn't use the giblets and tossed them, but I did opt to cook the neck in the same pan with the turkey; and since my pan was prepped, I put the neck in a corner of the pan.

I rinsed my turkey just under running tap water, and I let it run inside, and then dumped it out several times; till the water ran out pretty clear. 

Now most directions say pat the turkey dry.  I chose not to do this. 

I held it butt side down, over some plastic, and let any other water drip out; then I put it in my pan.  (Remember, I opted for no rack.)  The package instructions said to rub it with some oil, so I took a squirt bottle of oil that I keep, and rubbed the upper surface with a bit of canola oil.  Then I sprinkled it very generously with balsamic vinegar.  Next I sprinkled it very generously with worcestershire sauce.  Then I gave it a light sprinkle all over with curry powder.  Next came a light sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

While I was doing all this, my oven was preheating to 325 degrees.

Cooking the turkey.
Cooking time, both on the package and in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, was determined by weight.  Now your turkey should state the weight, but in case it doesn’t, you can do what I did if you have a digital scale.  Stand on the scale without the turkey, and record your weight; then stand on the scale with the turkey, and record your weight.  The difference between the two weights will  be the approximate weight of your turkey. 

The package said cook it 3-4 hours, and the cookbook said 4-5 hours.  I have a digital timer that has 2 timer settings, so I set one for 3 hours and the other for 4 hours.  So into the oven the turkey went, and the timer was started. 

After about an hour and a half or so, the top started getting pretty brown, so I followed instructions and put a tent of just regular aluminum foil over it.  And this should be loosely; not tightly wrapped.

I let it cook for about 3-1/2 hours total.  This bird had a pop up timer, and that had popped up.  I highly recommend these, as mine worked fine. 

Then we took it out, I took my pictures, and the eating commenced.  The neck turned out well too, and my hubby enjoyed it very much.






The eating and storing.
It turned out delicious, and looked like all those photos you always see of a turkey.  The skin was a golden brown, and had a slight crispy crackle when you first cut into it.  The meat was juicy and flavorful and tender.  My husband commenced to eating and foundered himself, and is asleep in the living room as I write this.  I really enjoyed watching him enjoy eating it.  He particularly loved the skin.

Since it is just the 2 of us, and this was just for us; not for a dinner or gathering - I went ahead and removed all the meat off the turkey and put it in plastic tubs in the fridge.  I put the skin and fatty parts in a separate tub, as hubby likes those and will eat them.  Then I took the remaining bones and put them in a ziplock bag in the fridge, because:  1-hubby might want to pick over them as he likes to do that; 2-save them for garbage day. 

And that's that.  My first turkey cooking was highly successful, and now we have yummy leftover turkey to munch on.  

If you are cooking for one or two, like me, there's no reason why you can't have your traditional turkey.  You can always freeze the turkey meat up for future meals.  One or two people can do a lot of eating off of one turkey.  

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday,
that your turkey and fixings turn out beautifully,
and from hubby and me,
we send all the best to you and yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A most awesome pizza!

My husband and I went shopping yesterday, which is a chore in and of itself, and brought home the fixings for a most awesome and budget friendly pizza.  Since my husband went on disability, we pinch our pennies very closely.  So now let me tell you about this awesome pizza.

JD's Awesome Pizza

1 Walmart brand 4 cheese pizza (this will be your base)
1/4 pound of Hormel Virginia ham from the deli, sliced on 2
Oscar Mayer real bacon pieces (important that you get the real bacon and not those crunchy bacon bits)
1 small can of Walmart brand sliced mushrooms, very well drained
Shredded cheese (I prefer the 4 or 5 Italian cheese blend)

Cover your favorite pizza pan with non-stick foil (Reynolds Wrap makes it), and preheat your oven.  My package said 400 degrees, and that's the temp I used.  Put the frozen pizza on the pizza pan.  Take a paper plate and put a white paper towel on it, and lay your ham on it.  Microwave the ham for about 45 seconds.  This is to help remove the excess water, and prevent a soggy pizza.  Tear ham in pieces and put on pizza, next add the bacon pieces to suit.  Next you will add the mushrooms, but make sure you have thoroughly drained them.  What I did was leave the lid in the can after I opened it, and used that as a press to squeeze the excess water out.  Put mushrooms on pizza.  Then cover pizza with cheese to suit yourself.  I like to add a nice enough layer so nothing much shows through.  I baked mine at the package prescribed temperature of 400 degrees for 24 minutes.

It was wonderful!  The crust was golden brown around the edges, and nice and melted in the middle.  I slid it off the pizza pan and onto the pizza box, which had been opened and folded inside out, to provide a cutting place.  The crust was so nice and crisp and fluffy.  It made the most wonderful, crisp, crackling sound when I cut it.  And it tasted amazing!  The deli ham made a huge difference.  And microwaving the ham and squeezing the mushrooms eliminated the excess water and prevented that soggy crust syndrome I had often had when fixing a pizza this way.

Hope you enjoy trying this.  It is a very budget friendly way to fix a delicious pizza at home, and it can be customized to suit any taste.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

guest post - Six Simple Side Dishes for Thanksgiving


Six Simple Side Dishes for Thanksgiving
By Suzanne Purewal

Thanksgiving is upon us. It is the time of year we gather together and remind ourselves how blessed we are and give thanks. But let’s face it – it is the food holiday.
This year will be my nineteenth year hosting Thanksgiving dinner. In the beginning, I made everything from scratch, just like my grandmother. I prepared and cooked for two days. I crafted stuffing from stale bread. I peeled, boiled and mashed Idaho® potatoes. I added enough dark brown sugar and butter to the yams to choke a horse. And then, I baked pies. On the big day, I cooked the turkey in a huge roasting pan, basting religiously every thirty minutes, and added or removed aluminum foil as needed.
Then finally the moment would arrive when we sat around the table as a family, with the television and phones off. I would breathe a sigh of relief after we finished praying. The work was done, and it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Then I watched as my happy and thankful loved ones would devour the feast in twenty minutes flat. I always thought the length of time to eat the meal should be somewhat proportionate to the time and energy it took me to prepare it.
Alas, I could not force them to eat slower. So, now, I have someone bring the potatoes. I buy the pumpkin and apple pies. The turkey is cooked in a Reynolds® Turkey Size Oven Bag, and it bastes itself. And I do not feel guilty at all. Instead, I concentrate on whipping up different side dishes.
The six side dishes I am offering are simple to make. I have included three traditional choices — stuffed mushrooms, broccoli casserole and sweet potato casserole — as well as three healthier alternatives – sautéed mushrooms, roasted broccoli and baked sweet potatoes.
The stuffed mushrooms are perfect as a side dish or as an appetizer for any occasion. You can even make them a day in advance. I have been asked if extra virgin olive oil can be substituted for the vegetable oil. Yes, but it will totally change the taste of the mushrooms. So you might want to experiment ahead of time to see which you prefer.
The broccoli casserole is a variation of the green bean casserole recipe found on the side of French’s® French Fried Onions packages. I love broccoli. So one day I used that instead of the beans. I have not eaten a green bean casserole since.
I borrowed the sweet potato casserole recipe from a friend. If you do not want to spend the time peeling, cutting and cooking the sweet potatoes, you can replace them with Bruce’s® Yams (canned) and cook and mash them for the recipe.
You might be wondering why I included the healthier options. I was recently informed that the typical American consumes 3,500 calories during Thanksgiving dinner. That statistic served as my inspiration. However, if you do not want to rock the boat on Thanksgiving Day for fear of mutiny, these are quick and simple dishes to enjoy year round.




Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients:
1 can (10 ¾ oz.) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
¾ cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 (9 oz.) pkgs frozen broccoli, thawed
1⅓ cups French’s® French Fried Onions

Directions:
Mix soup and milk, then add broccoli, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and ⅔ cup onions in a 1½ qt. casserole.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbling. Remove from oven. Stir mixture. Sprinkle with remaining onions.

Return to oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until onions are golden brown.


Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:
1½ lbs. fresh broccoli
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cut broccoli into florets. In a bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread florets out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are crispy.


Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
3 lbs. whole white mushrooms, small or medium
1 cup Progresso® Seasoned Bread Crumbs
½ cup grated Romano cheese
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Wesson® Vegetable Oil to drizzle over mushrooms
Water to cover bottom of pan

Directions:
Mix bread crumbs, cheese, pepper and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Remove and discard mushroom stems and wash mushrooms. Make sure you trim the cap so there is a well for the mixture. Place mushrooms in two (2) 9x12 glass baking dishes. Pour enough water in the dishes to cover bottoms.

Use a teaspoon (or small measuring spoon) to fill mushrooms with mixture. Make sure the mixture is slightly heaping. Drizzle oil over mushrooms. Check water level in the pan. Add more water if the bottom is not completely covered.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake for 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. The mushrooms will shrink during the baking process. If the mushrooms appear dry, baste them.
  

Sautéed Mushrooms

Ingredients:
1 Tbs. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ lbs. mushrooms, sliced
Black pepper (to taste)

Directions:
Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Stir in mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes. Add black pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.
 


Sweet Potato Casserole
Ingredients:
4½ cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
½ cup butter, melted
⅓ cup milk
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening to grease dish

Topping Ingredients:
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans  

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x12 glass baking dish.

Mix sweet potatoes, butter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and eggs in a large bowl. Spread mixture into the greased baking dish.

Mix brown sugar and flour in a small bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the sweet potato mixture. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.


Baked Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:
4 sweet potatoes (one per person)
4 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° F. Pierce each potato several times with the tines of a fork. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake 45 minutes or until tender.

Make a slit in the top of each sweet potato. Top each potato with 1 Tbs. of butter and 1 Tbs. cinnamon.