Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Monday, January 14, 2019

Reviewing Sam's Pizza Crust Recipe

Pizza crust from scratch is easier than I thought.
Over the years I have tried to make homemade pizzas. And over the years I have repeatedly failed. But today I made homemade pizza, just the way I like it, using a pizza crust recipe from Sam's Place. My little pizzas turned out great and I can't wait to bake some more.


Sam's Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe

Sam's Place is a blog site with a collection of recipes. Sam's recipes are generally easy and tasty. He writes about his passion for "preserving family recipes and creating new ones". I visit his blog regularly and see that he shares quick and easy recipes. 

When I decided to try to make pizzas at home again, I went directly to his blog. I found his dough recipe here. I only needed yeast, oil, water, flour, and salt. 


I spread the dough out on the pizza stone - baking stones are great! I pressed the dough into a thin crust with my fingers. I didn't worry that they weren't round. On each pizza, I added sauce, mushrooms, cheese, and  coarsely ground black pepper. Yes, that is one of my little pizzas in the photo above.



Old Stone Oven Round Pizza Stone




Why I Tried Making Pizzas Again


Recently I was watching a cooking show on television. Lidia was making little pizzas for the grill. She gave me a craving for pizza. Grocery store pizzas are okay, but not my favorite. Pizzas delivered from a local restaurant are divine but expensive. And I never end up eating the entire pizza. Even if I try eating all the leftovers, I either forget or I grow tired of eating pizza and inevitably I end up wasting food.


In the past I have tried making my own pizzas. I don't remember making any pizza that tasted better than the cheapie pre-made pizzas in the freezer section. Frankly, I eventually gave up.


But after watching that television show with the grilled pizzas and remembering Sam's easy dough recipe, I gave it a try. I dug out my baking stone and started up my KitchenAid mixer. Also, I have had good luck using SAF instant yeast. Previously, I failed when baking anything with yeast. But between using the SAF yeast and the fact that my water comes out of my tap at just over 100 degrees, I have been successful making breads. And now I'm successful with making homemade pizza crust.


Imagine making your own pizzas, personal sized or extra large, thin or thick crust, just exactly the way you like them!



The second pizza I made today. Doesn't it look tasty?


Related Links:


Cynthia reviewed the Kitchen Aid Pizza Wheel. She recommends it because it is "strong, durable, and ergonomical". Take a peek at her review for more details. I need one of these.


I bought my KitchenAid mixer two years ago. I had always thought it was an extra and over-priced gadget that I didn't need. But since I have it, I LOVE IT!  This is a purchase I've never regretted. 


Heather has been a KitchenAid Artisian mixer fan longer than I have. In fact, her review helped convince me to get one of my own. Heather's article also includes information about the annual timing of sales on these mixers. Get that important information here

Sam also has a Fresh Tomato Spinach pizza recipe. I'll try that next. 

Because Lidia's Kitchen show is what started this recent pizza craving, I'm including a link to her Grilled Pizza recipe. Yum! 


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Homemade Tomato Soup Recipe Reviewed

Much Better Than Canned Soup

tomato soup
Make your own tomato soup
After trying your own homemade tomato soup, you will never open a can of soup again. At least, I am not sure I could stomach it after having made my own from this recipe. 

One of my most favorite lunches is tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. For me, it is comfort food at its very best. I love tomatoes so when Mom would fix tomato soup and grilled cheese when I was a kid, I was in heaven. Now, Mom never made it from scratch and to be honest, as a child, I never realized that my most favorite of all soups came from anywhere other than that famous red and white can. 

A few weeks back, I expressed that I hoped that I would get an Immersion Hand Blender for one of my Christmas gifts. Santa did not bring me one but I did use a gift card that I received to purchase one for myself. Want to guess what the first thing I made with it was? I'll give you a hint; it starts with tomato and ends with soup. Oh my goodness! It was so very good and really very easy!

Tomato Soup Recipe

1 15 oz can tomato sauce
2 garlic gloves minced
1 28 oz can peeled plum tomatoes 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 shallot diced
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon fresh basil
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Place the olive oil in a large pot with the shallot and garlic. On medium heat cook the onion and garlic for about 4 to 6 minutes or until the shallot is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients including the juices from the canned tomatoes and stir. Bring the soup to a boil and then turn the heat down to a low simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes with the pot partially covered. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup to your desired consistency. 

Serve in a bowl with a grilled cheese sandwich and you are in for a real taste treat!

I will offer a tip on the tomatoes. You can use either whole peeled tomatoes or you can use the ones that are already crushed. The only difference is that the crushed ones take less time with the immersion blender. Both work well. Personally, I love the taste of the plum tomatoes but you can also choose regular tomatoes for the recipe. It just boils down to your taste buds. 

As I said earlier, once I made my own tomato soup with this recipe I won't be able to open a can of soup again. This is so delicious and easy to make that I can't believe it took me this long to try making it from scratch. By the way, it passed the husband test, too. He absolutely loved it! 

How about it? Do you think that you might try making your own sometime soon? I can promise you that you will not be disappointed! 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-Stick Perforated French Bread Pan Review

Baguette loaf bread pan.
Years ago I purchased a bread pan that I really liked. Currently, with the cold and gloomy weather, I've been in the mood to bake some bread. I have a couple of bread recipes that I can rely on producing successful loaves of bread. The Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-stick Perforated French Bread Pan is the pan I depend on when I want baguette-style loaves of bread. 

The Chicago Metallic Commercial II Non-stick Perforated French Bread Pan has nearly a 5 star rating on Amazon which supports my belief that the pan is a main reason I'm successfully able to bake these small bread loaves.

The first time I used the pan, I made a small Wheat Irish Soda Bread loaf. I was afraid the dough would stick badly in the perforations and I was afraid the loaf would break. I sprayed the pan very lightly with cooking spray. After the loaf was baked, I ran a spatula along the sides of the bread to make sure it wasn't stuck before I tipped the loaf out of the pan. I was concerned for nothing. The bread was not stuck to the pan at all.  Also, because of the holes and the shape of the pan, the loaves come out evenly baked, nicely shaped, and delicious. 

The Chicago Metallic Commercial pan is non-stick and clean-up is super easy. When I am finished baking and after the pan has cooled a bit, I soak the pan for a couple of minutes in hot soapy water, to get any bits of bread out of the air holes. I follow the soak with a rinse in hot water.

I'm not much of a baker and my skills at baking bread are fairly new. I started with Irish Soda Bread. It was my first success at baking bread because it did not require yeast. It was also a very dense, heavy bread. Later, I became really good at baking two different breads that require yeast: Peasant Bread and Patara's Bread Recipe

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about this pan. I think that everyone who enjoys baking bread should have one of these highly recommended bread pans. I purchased the two-loaf pan but for those of you who bake more than I do there is also a four-loaf pan available.




The next bread I want to learn to bake is a Subway Sunflower Crunch bread. Their bread is delicious. I feel more confident experimenting while using the Chicago Metallic Commercial pan. I hope I am able to find a sufficient copy cat recipe. Wish me luck.

Related Link: 

Sam on Ahead of Thyme blog shares a sunflower seed bread recipe. I have chosen this sunflower seed bread recipe to try first because the ingredients list seems to be the closest to what the Subway restaurant version tastes like to me.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Yummy, Gooey, Chocolate, Vanilla, Delicious Dessert - Recipe Review

Reviewing a Delicious Dessert 

I imagine that this dessert has an official name in a cookbook or an online cooking or recipe website somewhere.  But when I first acquired the recipe from a co-worker who had brought the dessert to work to share, she called it 'yummy, gooey, chocolate, vanilla delicious dessert'.  And that's how it has been known in our household ever since! We have made it many times and always enjoy it immensely.  

If you are looking for a non-fattening dessert, you won't find it here among the cream cheese, powdered sugar, Cool Whip, butter, puddings and milk. Not to mention the walnuts and Hershey Bar. But for a delicious dessert, it is unparalleled in taste!


Recipe for Delicious Dessert 



CRUST:


  • 1-1/2 stick of margarine or butter – melt
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped walnuts (pecans)
  • 1-1/2 c. flour



Mix & press into bottom of oblong pan.  Bake at 350◦ for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

LET COOL COMPLETELY

FILLING #1


  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. Cool Whip (buy 9 oz carton – more goes on top)



Spread on cooled crust.

FILLING #2







TOPPING:


  • Spread remaining Cool Whip.

  • Shave Hershey bar over the top.


CHILL

SERVE


SUMMARY NOTES



The most interesting part of this dessert (which makes a WHOLE lot, filling the 12 x 10 x 2 inch pan I use as seen in these photos) is that it KEEPS really well and tastes even better the longer it is kept chilled in the refrigerator. Of course you could make a smaller batch, but we most often make it for a larger gathering or a party occasion. And this yummy dessert seldom lasts long enough to store more than one or two days around us! 








(c) Wednesday Elf 1/5/2019

#All images are personal photos by (c) Wednesday Elf


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Potato Soup Cooked In InstantPot Reviewed

Easy And Delicious Potato Soup

potato for soup
Potatoes for soup image from pixabay.com
Want to make some potato soup for your family to enjoy this winter? I can review a recipe that will delight your taste buds and be easy on your purse strings. 

Last year I asked Santa for an InstantPot and was delighted that he thought I was a good enough girl to get one. Since then, I have made many wonderful meals in that multi function pressure cooker. Just this past weekend, I tried some potato soup. Let me just say that it was a real hit in my house. I will even go so far as to say that it is the best potato soup that I have ever had. That is saying a lot on my part because my Mom's was pretty danged good stuff. 

This is an easy recipe that won't take you all day to make if you cook it in an instant pot. I think that it took me about an hour with the prep time and cooking time. The prep time and waiting for the pot to preheat took more time than the actual cooking time. Still, about an hour from start to that first delicious mouthful.

Potato Soup (Instant Pot) Recipe

Ingredients:
5 lbs potatoes peeled and cubed
1 shallot minced
4 Tblsp butter
1/3 cup cream cheese - softened and cut in small pieces
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1-2 cups of milk (enough to get your desired consistency)
1/2 cup bacon bits
Shredded cheese for garnish
Green onion cut for garnish

Add the shallot and potatoes to the pot and cover with the chicken broth. Cover and cook on the Soup setting for 10 minutes. Release the pressure with the quick release method. Let your pot stay on the keep warm setting.

You can mash the potatoes at this point if you like although I don't think you need to.

Add butter, cream cheese and sour cream and mix well until butter is melted and the cream cheese and sour cream are blended. Add part of the bacon bits saving some for garnish in the bowls.

Add the desired amount of milk, stir and serve in bowls with desired garnishes. 

A few hints:
When cubing your potatoes, keep the size of the cubes rather large. Perhaps a medium to large size is best. The reason for this is the pressure cooking will cook those cubes down quite a lot and if the cubes are too small you will end up with "mashed potato" soup. You want some potatoes that you can bite into. If some seem too large you can cut them after the pressure cooking is done. Honestly, I feared that I had cut the potatoes too large but when they were done they were the perfect size and were completely cooked through. 

The cream cheese needs to be in very small pieces in order for it to melt quickly when added and stirred into the hot potato mixture. Having to stir the mixture too much will continually break up your cooked potatoes. 

Personally, I had to add more salt and pepper after cooking. That will be a matter of personal preference so try it with the amount given and adjust to your taste afterward. You can always add more but if you add too much to begin with; well, you can't take it out. 

So, that is my potato soup recipe cooked in my InstantPot. I hope you give this a try because I think you will really love it. It is perfect on a cold winter day! It also makes enough that you are sure to have enough to enjoy for another meal or too. You can keep it refrigerated for a couple of days and just reheat in a saucepan. As with so many meals, it tastes even better on the second day. All those ingredients kind of marry each other while resting in the fridge. Trust me, this is really very good!





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, December 17, 2018

How to Make Super Easy Gingerbread Cookies

If you have wanted to make gingerbread men but are too intimidated or short on time I have a great kitchen cheat for you! Even I was able to successfully bake these cookies with Wilton Gingerbread Man Cookie pans and Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix. However, please note that the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie mix is "limited edition". Perhaps it is only seasonal. So stock up now for your future gingerbread cookie-baking adventures.


Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix



I depend on cookie mixes. And have had really good luck with the Snickerdoodle and the Peanut Butter flavors. So it was an easy thing for me to buy the Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix.


I followed the directions on the bag to make the cookie dough. The ingredients list is super short:

  • bag of cookie mix 
  • stick of butter 
  • one egg 
  • tablespoon of water.

I split the dough in half - using one half for each pan - and dropped by small spoonfuls into the pans. 





Wilton Gingerbread Man Cookie Pan


When I saw these adorable cookie pans at a local big box store, I could not resist. I'm not at all skilled with baking, but I really wanted to try these shaped cookie pans. I have had a great time making these cookies and I think these would be fun pans to use when baking with a child.

The pans are nearly 12" tall! They are non-stick (I still used a very light coating of spray cooking oil). And the pans have raised details that create slight indentations in the finished cookies. The indentations can be guides for icing placement. I left mine plain (I tell myself that because I left the frosting off the cookies were a "healthier" version of cookie!)


Big Gingerbread Man cookie pans by Wilton



Super Easy Gingerbread Cookie Pros and Cons



The best things about these super easy gingerbread cookies are that they are quick, easy, and tasty. Minimal time is spend in the kitchen and the cookies are oh so good.

When the pans are filled using the "dropped by small spoonfuls" technique the cookies are big and soft (similar to a brownie). I prefer that type of cookie.

My picky-eater friend said that the flavor was very good. I agree.

The possible "cons" of these cookies are that these are not the gingerbread cookies your grandmother made. If you are looking for original gingerbread men, this may not be what you are looking for. 

These cookies were not the "crispy"/"crunchy"  original style of gingerbread men. 

I have made these cookies using these pans three times. I have learned that the gingerbread dough does not "spread" during baking as much as some other cookie dough. So my first attempts resulted in the hands and feet not being fully formed. On my most recent attempt, I dropped small spoonfuls of dough in the cookie pans feet and hands. That created fully formed hands and feet.

My next attempt will include pressing the dough down into the pan to see if the result with be the thinner and more crunchy cookies. 




Related Link:


Do you love Snickerdoodles? 
Do you prefer super thick, cake-like cookies?  

Me too! 

Check out my Easy Snickerdoodle Cookie Pie recipe. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review of Hot Drink for the Holidays

Hot Holiday Punch Recipe Postcard
by mbgphoto 

Hot Drink for Cold Days

I love to entertain during the holiday season. When my guests come in from a cold winters evening a cup of hot holiday punch will make them feel warm and festive.

Over the years I have experimented with several combinations for hot drinks and have ended up using this one for the past ten years or so.  It has just the right blend of juices and spices and is great with or without alcohol added.  I always serve the alcohol on the side and let the guest decide how much to add or not.

Hot Holiday Punch

Ingredients


  • 1 Jar (48 oz) cranberry juice 
  • 1 can (46 ox) unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • one orange cut into slices

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in large crockpot and heat.  I put a decanter of rum nearby for those who would like to add a bit of liquor.

At the beginning of this page I added a link to a recipe card for the punch that you can purchase on Zazzle.

Mugs for Hot Drinks

Here are some festive mugs I found on Zazzle.
The first one can be personalized with your name.

Watercolor Pine Tree Joyeux Noel Espresso Cup
I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season!!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Easy Beef Stroganoff Crock-Pot Recipe Review

Easy Beef Stroganoff from Crock-Pot.
Easy and filling meals are a must at my place. Cooking this Easy Beef Stroganoff recipe in the Crock-Pot while I'm at work, or while I'm busy with chores on the weekend, has been a meal that I look forward to. It also makes enough to provide delicious leftovers. 


Easy Beef Stroganoff in the Crock-Pot


Crock-Pot Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes is a little cookbook with super easy recipes. One of my favorites from this little cook book is the Easy Beef Stroganoff.  With only 5 ingredients (if you include the water) and served over either noodles or rice it is a meal that could not be much easier. I have served this over rice. But I prefer to use "Amish Noodles" with this recipe.



I do adjust this recipe just a bit. I like more meat and less "gravy". So I use more than 2 lbs of meat and only 2 cans of the mushroom soup. Sometimes, I use beef roast instead of stew meat. I buy the cut of meat that is on sale. Stew meat results in bite-sized chunks of meat and the roast results in a shredded meat and both versions are delicious.

Whether you use the same Crock-Pot cookbook I have, or search for Crock-Pot recipes online and other slow cooker cookbooks, I'm sure you can find your own favorite recipes. Clearly, I'm a fan of the ease of slow cooker cooking and highly recommend giving a slow cooker a try.


Crock-Pots


Between work, a slow commute, and my lack of skills in the kitchen, it isn't always easy to find meals that meet my needs and are tasty. I depend on my Crock-Pot. In fact, I like using slow cookers so much that I own 2 of them (a large 7 qt size and a small 2 qt size). Cooking in a Crock-Pot seems to leave less room for error. It also provides significant cost-savings (taking easy, tasty comfort food leftovers to work for lunch is much less costly than purchasing a lunch each day). 

My favorite Crock-Pot meals include pulled pork, shredded chicken, roasted beets (I've shifted from making them in the oven to the small crock pot), stews, chili (including white chili made with the shredded chicken), and squash "lasagna".

Related Links:

Louanne shares instructions for making her healthy Vegetable stock in a Crock-Pot

My next Crock-Pot will be the portable version; with the latches to hold the lid tight. And the travel bag. I have co-workers who use these for the potlucks at work and the locking lid and bag are GREAT ideas!






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Biscuit Egg Pie Recipes

Egg and green bean biscuit pie on the grill.
Somewhere on one of my social media groups I saw a photo of someone's beautiful biscuit-egg casserole. It looked delicious. And easy. Well, the crust didn't necessarily look easy. I think I saw the photo on one of my homesteading groups; with the biscuit/crust made from scratch. It didn't take me but a minute to think of a shortcut; using Pillsbury refrigerator rolls for the crust.  However, it seems I'm behind the times, as usual. There are many versions of these "egg pie" recipes and I'm going to list a few here.

My Egg Pies


I have made these in a variety of flavors. And both at the apartment in the oven and at The Shack on the grill.  I especially like egg pies at The Shack.  I have a hard time making fried or scrambled eggs on the grill. Egg pies are a super easy way to make breakfast on the grill.

My two favorite recipes are: green bean/egg/sriracha and egg/refried bean/salsa. No matter which ingredients I choose, I melt Kerrygold Butter on the top. 

I have used pie pans, casserole pans, and my favorite small dutch ovens. I have found that the deeper dishes cause trouble with getting the eggs cooked completely. Now, I'm sticking with the shallow Pyrex pie plates.

A slice of my egg pie - salsa and refried bean version

I have used both Pillsbury Grands and Pillsbury Crescent Rolls.  I thought I'd prefer the crescent rolls, but I have come to prefer the Grands or the Flaky rolls. I pop the can open and use each roll after peeling it in half. The rolls are easy to press into the bottom of the pie pan - creating the crust. Sometimes I used any extra roll pieces on top. Sometimes I bake the extra rolls separately. 

Typically, I do not use recipes. In preparation for this post, I looked for recipes. It seems that people have been making "egg pies" with these biscuits for a long period of time. For real recipes, check out the links below.

Pillsbury Cheesy Southwest Egg Bake - combining the flavors of sausage, eggs, peppers, Mexican cheese, and biscuits. Yum!

Cheesy Southwest Egg Bake

Pillsbury Sausage and Egg Biscuits - small, individual sausage, egg, and biscuit pies. Such a great idea! Such a fast and easy, hot breakfast.

Sausage and Egg Biscuits

Pillsbury Sweet and Savory Mini Hand Pies - apples and sausage baked in biscuits. Individual breakfast pies that would be great on-the-go.

Apple and Sausage mini pies




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Food Pets Die For - Book Review

Read More Reviews
As one focused on saving animal lives on a daily basis, it is my responsibility to do as much as possible to help animals thrive.  Certainly, nutrition is a critical factor.  Many ailments and diseases, even deaths, can be linked directly to the food consumed by companion animals.  This is no surprise.  What did come as a surprise to me was how reading Food Pets Die For, by Ann Martin, would shake me to my core.  It is my hope that what I share here will make a difference in helping others avoid the heartache of losing a beloved pet, or of having a pet suffer needlessly.

Let's start with why I felt shaken and shocked as a result of reading this book.  Having learned quite a bit about commercial pet foods through my shelter work, I didn't expect to be horrified by the contents of Food Pets Die For.  What did I find horrifying?  Well, would it make you sick to know that the furry members of your family have eaten euthanized dogs and cats?  I'll never get over that ugly reality.  Are you up to hearing more about the "ingredients" in Fifi's so-called premium pet food?  I hope you haven't just eaten.

For starters, it is not unusual for pet food (and not just the cheapest brands) to be made up of:  fecal matter, decomposing garbage, road kill, poisons, known carcinogens (herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides), the ingested stomach contents of dead animals, drugs used to kill animals, diseased animals, chicken pen shavings, blood, toxins, feathers, additives not approved for dogs and cats, and unregulated levels of supplemental vitamins that can kill our animals.

You may be wondering how this is possible.  Largely, this is the result of a self-regulated, multi-billion dollar industry.  The author has meticulously researched the commercial pet food industry for nearly 30 years.  Though it seems too shocking to be true, and though many pet food manufacturers have attempted to block the release of damaging information, the evidence is compelling.  What pet-lover could ignore these facts?  To do so is to be an accomplice to crimes against animals.

And speaking of crimes, I found it beyond disheartening to learn of the animal experimentation supported by well-known pet food companies.  I would never have purchased food from these companies had I known about the extreme pain, and premature deaths, inflicted upon the subjects of their so-called nutritional research.  I will continue to be haunted by the barbaric experiments documented by undercover employees.

At this point, you may be wondering if you have the stomach to read this book.  If we care about animals, we can't afford not to.  How can we justify supporting practices that hurt innocent creatures who depend on us for their safety and well-being?

There is much to be learned from Food Pets Die For that can move us to making a positive difference (whether you currently have companion animals or not).  In addition to enlightenment about the lesser known inner workings of the pet food industry, you will also be introduced to options for feeding your pets homemade meals and treats.  Key considerations, including the nutritional needs of dogs and cats, are presented.

While reading this book, I found myself standing in the pet food aisle of my neighborhood big box store.  I have to admit that I could not bring myself to purchase a single can or bag of food from their pet food offerings.  I knew too much to be able to do that to the animals I treasure.  I am making the commitment to cook meals for my animal family.  It is impossible for me to fill the stomachs of my pups and kittens with lethal substances given what I now know.  I just hope I can forgive myself for not knowing sooner.  Ignorance is no excuse and with knowledge comes new responsibility.

What can you do starting today?  Please read and share this book widely.  You will likely save lives.  Also, please consider doing something for shelter animals.  Many of the animals arriving at shelters are already in a greatly depleted state (suffering from malnutrition and starvation).  Shelters are often dependent on donations of pet food.  One powerful thing you can do is to provide a gift of high quality pet food for the animals awaiting adoption.  There are few things more satisfying than filling the empty tank of a beautiful companion animal with what that creature needs, and deserves, most.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Easy Snack - Ham Rolls on Celery

Healthy and delicious ham rolls on celery.
I haven't been eating as healthily as I should and I can feel it. This weekend I made a concerted effort to cut back on sugars, carbs, and caffeine. As a result, I ended up making this delicious, healthy, and EASY snack - ham rolls on celery sticks. I have always liked ham and cream cheese rolls, but this new twist on a favorite recipe was extra delicious and satisfied those cravings. 


4 Ingredient - Ham Rolls on Celery


This spicy, creamy snack is super easy to assemble and my version consisted of only 4 ingredients: celery, ham, cream cheese and sriracha

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 4 slices of ham 
  • cream cheese
  • sriracha


Assembly:

  1. spread cream cheese on a ham slice.
  2. roll the ham, jelly roll style
  3. wash the celery sticks, trimming the ends then cutting each remaining stick into 1/2. 
  4. place a couple of drops of sriracha in the celery stick 
  5. place the ham and cream cheese roll in the celery stick - on top of the sriracha 

add sriracha to your taste

I am not a nutritionist so I cannot instruct you on what includes healthy eating for you. But I do know with certainty, that overdoing it on carbs, sugars, and caffeine causes me problems. This snack helped me avoid the snacks that I wanted to avoid this weekend. And ended the cravings I was having for the sweets. 


Recipe Inspiration


My inspiration came from those cream cheese and ham rolls many of us have enjoyed at parties and celebrations. 

The Kraft version of the recipe is here. The Kraft version uses chives for the flavor kick, cuts the rolls into smaller sections, and places the pinwheel sections on crackers.


Ham Pinwheels recipe by Kraft

There are other variations of pinwheels, including rolling a pickle in the ham wrap with the cream cheese. I like the pickle version too and may pick up some pickle spears to give it a try on the celery sticks. 


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

How to Make the Best Chocolate Icing

Review By Funkthishouse.com
Photos: Via Pixabay
My parents moved away from their home town in Manitoba, Canada when I was about five years old. We lived in many places throughout our country, but no matter where we lived, my dad would fly his mother out (our Memere) for visits. Oh wait a minute! She would take the train, she was terrified of flying!

I sure hope Memere knew how much I loved it when she would visit.

On one visit, while sitting in the kitchen doing homework, Memere had just finished making a cake. She was about to make the icing, when I decided I had to know how she made such delicious chocolate icing. So being an inquisitive 15 year old, I stood beside her while she explained her secrets.

"What this recipe is about, isn't the ingredients, it's in the mixing, texture and general understanding of what to add and not to add to get the best chocolate icing."

Lets start with the ingredients - They're fairly standard and well known:
Added Note: 

Below 'Sylvestermouse Cynthia' asked what Icing Sugar was. In Canada we (most everyone I know) call Powdered Sugar, 'Icing Sugar'. The only brand I use is Redpath Icing Sugar.

Turns out, Redpath Sugar is a Canadian Company as well. According to it's website it's been a part of Canadian kitchens since 1854.

Being Canadian I admit I should have known that, however in my defense Redpath Sugar and Fry's Cocoa have been a part of my family's kitchen since before I was born. That's a long time ago!

Redpath Sugar carries many sugar products, including Icing Sugar. You can find Redpath Icing Sugar at Amazon.ca (not .com), and of course, learn about their products via their website.

What makes chocolate icing awesome:

To no surprise, Memere never measured any ingredients, and to this day, neither do I. 

I learned to make chocolate icing just the way she taught me; by understanding how to get the right texture.

Here's the most important tip from my Memere:
When you need to thin out the icing, do it by adding more softened butter, not more milk
She explained this further: "Because adding too much milk will quickly make the icing mixture too runny, then to fix it you'll have to add more icing sugar to recover the texture from liquid mud to icing. So to avoid this, add more butter first, not more milk"

Putting the Ingredients Together:

Although I never measure, I'll try to put some measurements to the above ingredients
  • In a deeper mixing bowl, put in about two cups of icing sugar
  • Add about half a cup of Fry's Cocoa (add more for a richer chocolate taste)
  • Butter .. hmmm.. I can't give you a measurement - maybe start with 1/4 cup of softened butter, that's 'softened', not melted, not runny, not too soft either. Ensure it maintains it's thick butter texture.
  • Add a teaspoon of pure Vanilla Extract
  • Add a teaspoon of milk, or two teaspoons if the icing is too thick to mix
  • How to know when you've nailed it - For me, I like it when the Icing is spreadable but can hold swirl peaks on the cake, in other words, not too hard, not too soft, just right. 
With a hand-mixer, mix the ingredients together. It won't be the right texture for spreading yet.

This is where the Grandma touch comes in:

If your mixture is too thin and runny, add more Icing Sugar to correct the texture. Keep mixing it with the hand mixer. If you've had to add more icing sugar, you'll need more Cocoa so add a couple of tablespoons at a time. More icing sugar dilutes the chocolate, that's the reason for adding more cocoa.

However, it's more likely the texture will be too thick.

To thin out the texture, add another heaping tablespoon of butter, a couple of drops of milk, a half teaspoon at the most! Then stop completely with adding milk.

At this point, it should be getting to the right texture. If it happens to become too runny again, then add more icing sugar. Sorry I can't give you a measurement for that, just add a tablespoon at a time.

However if it's too THICK, then keep adding softened butter, one tablespoon at a time.

Thanks to Memere, I've never used store bought icing. I always make it from scratch.

If I had to choose the key ingredient (other than butter) it would be Fry's Cocoa. That's also the cocoa we use to make the chocolate cake recipe passed down from my grandmother on my mother's side.

My kids have grown up on our homemade chocolate cake and homemade icing thanks to our grandmas on both sides - and it's the only birthday cake they want. Store bought is a no-no.

Added Tip: You CANNOT put icing on a cake until the cake is COMPLETELY cooled. I'll usually put the cake in the fridge to fully cool it off if time is an issue.

Happy Baking!



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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

10 Spices That Are So Easy to Grow & Great in Recipes

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there are so many spices that are so easy to grow!  Let's review some of these spices and maybe they might help trigger some creative cooking too!

spices, easy to grow, spice bible, tasty cooking, review, flavor bible

Gardening is about enjoying what you and the earth can produce.  Nothing tastes as good as fresh from the garden.  That's why many people decide to go out to the country on the weekends to stock up on fresh from the farm goodness.

Having a spice garden is relatively easy and when it really starts to grow, it can become bountiful.  What a tasty treat for all your home cooked meals.  Let's get on to the list of easy to grow and great to enjoy spices that are just a few steps away from the kitchen.


10 of the Most Used and useful spices:


1.  Parsley:  either curly or flat leafed.  Wonderful for dressing up salads, potatoes, stews, and more.

2.  Chives:  Great with stuffed baked potatoes, salads, soups and more.

3.  Peppers:  These can be hot (hotter than Hades) or sweet as in bell peppers.  Some can be used for a meal as a vegetable and others for spicing things up.  Be careful, some of the peppers that are being grown today are so hot, you need to handle them with rubber gloves.

4.  Basil:  There are several varieties of Basil, from large Green Leafed Basil, to Purple Basil and even small leafed basil.  One thing is certain, tomatoes with fresh basil is a little bit of heaven right here on earth.

5.  Dill:  Great for making home made pickles, but also added to salads it adds just a little bit of a different taste sensation.

6:  Cilantro:  This is one spice that you either love or dislike(dare I say "hate").  It depends totally on your own taste buds.  Some people when eating anything with cilantro will taste a "soapy" flavor.  They are sure not to like this spice.  But others find cilantro to be refreshing with a crisp clear taste!  Great in salads and stews, soups and even sandwiches.

7:  Mint:  There are all kinds of mints available and all of them are really easy to grow.  Some might even be considered invasive.  Mints can be used in cooking as well as making teas (hot or cold) to enjoy on a hot summer's day.

8:  Sage:  Pretty in green or purple sage has a very strong flavor that will pack a punch of flavor in your cooking.

9:  Oregano:  Easy to grow and will often overwinter.  A great spice for all Italian dishes from spaghettis to pizza.  Added to soups and stews it adds a lot of flavor with a tangy zesty taste.

10: Rosemary:  this spice is easy to grow and can be used not only for cooking but as a decorative plant.  It prunes really easy and can be used as small topiaries.  This spice is great for lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.  Taken indoors for the winter months, it will continue to grow without any problems.

This is my list of 10 favorites, but there are so many more and each one will add a dimension to your cooking that you may not have realized yet.  Below you will find a "cookbook" to help you make the most of the spices you grow yourself and the ones that you need to purchase because they just need a climate that we don't have.  Either way, home grown spices will definitely make you think twice about the way you cook and the way you enjoy your meals with your family.


Guide to Using Spices


If you are looking for help in pairing spices to make your recipes pop and sizzle, then I would highly recommend this Cookbook!  I use the term "Cookbook" with a certain amount of caution, it is not so much a "cookbook" as a real guide to using spices in combinations that will make your food preparation and your family's taste buds sing.


With a rating of 4.5 stars from Amazon, and over 1,000 verified purchases (mine included), I know that you will enjoy this addition to your cookbook collection!  As with many books today, there is a "Kindle" edition.  Alas, the Kindle version does not get very good ratings at all. (This decline in ratings I'm sure dropped this from a 5 star to 4.5 star rating) With the Kindle book, there is not the same ability to skip to other pages easily and quickly.   Some books just need to be in a paper version!

This truly is a REFERENCE BOOK  that every kitchen should have.  You will use it more often than you ever thought possible.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dukes Real Mayonnaise Reviewed

Not just for sandwiches!

sandwich with mayonnaise
Sandwich with mayonnaise courtesy of Pixabay.com
My new favorite mayo is Dukes Real Mayonnaise! From what I can gather those of you who either live in the southern part of the United States or perhaps grew up there are very familiar with this condiment. Those of us from the northern regions and perhaps the western regions of this country most likely haven't tried it. Well, I'm here to tell you; we didn't know what we were missing!

Honestly, I have never been a big fan of mayonnaise. About the only time that I used it was when it was called for in a recipe. Since I have discovered Dukes mayonnaise, that has changed. Now, I eat it on sandwiches and use it in those recipes. Shoot, I'm even adding it to recipes that don't really call for it but I think it makes a nice addition. 

This mayo is so creamy! It also has a different taste to it. Personally, the brand that I used previously didn't have much of a flavor to it at all but not so with Dukes. I don't know how to explain it other than there is a bit of a zippiness to the flavor. It is really very tasty! So, now I actually like mayonnaise on a sandwich.

One of my favorite things to have for lunch is an egg salad sandwich. Making my recipe using Dukes makes it even more enjoyable than it was before!

Bev's Egg Salad Recipe


8 hard boiled eggs that have been chopped after peeled
1/2 cup Dukes Mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the ingredients with the chopped eggs until mixed well. Spread on bread, bun or crackers.

For those of you who are health conscious enough that you don't use mayo; Dukes is healthier than most brands. There is no sugar added and the cholesterol is lower than most brands. 

If you haven't tried Dukes or perhaps you are not able to get it near you; it can be purchased at Amazon and shipped right to your door. It doesn't get much easier than that folks! I love this stuff so much that I am finding ways to use it that I would have not done in the past with the former brand. Last night, I fixed homemade baked macaroni and cheese and decided to add about a 1/2 cup to my recipe. Oh my goodness! I love my mac n' cheese anyway; adding Dukes just made it even better! 

How about you? Have you tried this brand of mayo? What do you think?




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

It's National Blueberry Month All Around the World

Today is National Blueberry Muffin Day!  Just as these plump little berries are coming onto the market, it is time to get some great recipes, so you can fully enjoy these delicious little treats!  



Let's Review some of the best recipes that are out there on the World Wide Web, for all of us who love to consume this delightful bit of heaven on earth!
Blueberries are one of the best fruits for you!  Full of lots of vitamins and minerals, it has also had a lot of reported health benefits as well!.Blueberries are pretty to look at and taste even greater than they look.  Naturally native to North America, blueberries have been attributed to longevity and strength.  They are low in calories and high in taste!  A great combination for sure. If you want to learn more about the health benefits of blueberries you can check out a link right here!

Let me just give you the highlights!  100 grams of blueberries contains about 57 calories. for those who are not in the metric system that equals about a half cup.  Blueberries are full of anti-oxidants and dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. These dark blue berries even  help lower blood sugar levels and control blood-glucose levels. They pack a big bang for your grocery dollar. Many people feel that blueberries add years to your life and life to your years.  Added to other berries like strawberries and raspberries, the colors alone will make your mouth water.

What's even better is that you can use blueberries in so many different ways.  You can eat them just as they are, like grapes, or add them to a dish of ice cream for a real treat!  Blueberries can even be used in savoury dishes too! They are great in gravies, soups and stews or to add some flavor to venison dishes.   Just make sure you wash them well, just like any other fruit.

Blueberries can be cooked into a jam or jelly, baked into a cake or tart, or frozen for later use.  If you have a farm near you, I would highly suggest that this fruit is one you should go out and pick.  The time for that is right now!  Berry season this year looks like a great one.  We've had the right amount of rain and sunshine so that these fruits should be available without any problems. The height of the season is June through August.

Now let's look at a few ways that you can make the most out of this incredible berry season. Eating blueberries just as they are is wonderful.  Add other berries to make a lovely colorful flan, fruit cups, and mixed berry jams and jellies is a great idea too!  But don't stop there.  Blueberries can also be used in smoothies and making wine!  My personal favorite is Blueberry Muffins.  I like the flavor, texture and look of these muffins!  Yummy for breakfast or as a dessert for the family.  You will find so many recipes that use blueberries in this cookbook! 

Blueberry muffins are so good and easy to make, I just know you will enjoy this recipe!  Sam Monaco, a friend and great cook shared this recipe on his blog "Sam's Place"  I've made them lots of times and I never get tired of the ease and the great taste of these delightful muffins.  Enjoy!  Sam's Blueberry Muffins

By the Way,  just for some added fun, the next time you play a game like Trivial Pursuit, you can awe your family with the knowledge that Canada is the largest exporter of blueberries in the world.  Bet you didn't know that!



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.