Oct 29, 2011


A few years ago I found this recipe on Good Morning American’s website. I fell in love and knew that if I was ever anywhere near a Serendipity that I would have to try the authentic Frozen Hot Chocolate. They have one in Las Vegas near Cesar’s Palace (of course the original one is in NYC), and it’s just amazing. I think Disney World is the greatest place on earth, and Serendipity is the second greatest place on earth!!

This recipe is super simple, and the best thing I think I have ever had to drink. I don’t use “best-quality chocolate” I just use whatever I have laying around that no one will eat. You know that bowl with a few Hershey Kisses, a few Hershey bars, and so on.

Remember it’s just plan chocolate nothing with nuts, or caramel.  You certainly could use better quality chocolate, but don’t let that stop you from making this.  I have used chocolate bark and it was amazing.  Don’t skimp on the heavy cream that is the deal breaker in this recipe. It’s where the decadence comes from.

Ingredients:
  • 3 ounces best-quality chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate mix
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups ice
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings
Whipped Cream Ingredients:
  • 1 cup heavy cream, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Directions:
  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt chocolate in a small heavy saucepan or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. 
  2. Add the hot chocolate mix and sugar, stirring constantly until blended.
  3. Remove from heat, slowly add half a cup of the milk, and stir until smooth. 
  4. Cool to room temperature. 
  5. In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the chocolate mixture, and the ice. 
  6. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. 
  7. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy!!
Whipped Cream:
  1. Combine the cream and vanilla and mix well. With an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, start whipping the cream on medium speed. Add the corn syrup slowly while beating. Whip until the cream holds soft peaks.
  2. Slather, drop and dollop onto whatever your heart desires. Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups, enough for 1 to 5 persons, depending on if you feel like sharing.

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Oct 19, 2011


I have to start off by saying that I do not like stroganoff  actually I despise it because it has sour cream in it, and I am not a fan of sour cream. In my opinion stroganoff is good until you add the sour cream. My husband on the other hand loves it. When I found this recipe online I thought I would give it a shot. 

The original recipe calls for ribs, but I really couldn’t rationalize that in my head plus I had a chuck roast I had gotten on sale I wanted to use it.  The recipe actually turned out really good. It’s a super simple recipe that doesn’t really require much attention. I really enjoyed it even with the sour cream. My husband thought it could use more sour cream, so if you are inclined certainly add more sour cream than the recipe requires.

Ingredients:
  • 5 Tbsp. flour, divided
  • 2 tsp.  smoked paprika, divided
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 3 lb.  chuck roast
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 pkg.  (8 oz.) whole mushrooms, halved or 1 can of mushrooms
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves  garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup  beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup  Sour Cream
  • 1 pkg. (16 oz.) egg noodles

Directions:
  1. Cut chuck roast into 2 inch pieces.
  2. Mix 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp. paprika and 1/2 tsp. salt together. Add to the cut up chuck roast; toss to evenly coat.
  3. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add roast pieces; cook 5 min. or until evenly browned, turning occasionally.
  4. Place roast pieces in slow a cooker; top with remaining paprika, salt, vegetables, garlic, pepper, broth and Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Cover with lid. Cook on HIGH 6 hours (or on LOW 8 to 10 hours).
  6. Meanwhile, cook noodles as directed on package.
  7. Drain noodles; place in large serving bowl. Add meat mixture; stir.


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Oct 18, 2011


This is a super simple recipe. The worst part of the recipe was having to fry the meat up initially. To be honest with you I don’t think frying it up added anything but work. Next time I would just toss everything in the crockpot and let it do all the work. Even though you start off with a steak in the end it taste like roast beef. I used a cheap steak I found on sale. I believe I only paid $1.99 a pound. One thing I have found about cooking a piece of beef in the crockpot it really doesn’t matter how tough it is, if you cook it long enough it will end up nice and tender. 


Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon salad oil or 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs. beef chuck steak, about one-inch thick
  • 1/2 cup Lea Perrins steak sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1 tablespoons grain mustard
  • 1 pound small red potatoes (new potatoes)

Directions:
  1. Cut Chuck Steak into 2 inch pieces.
  2. In 12-inch Dutch oven, over medium-high heat in hot oil, cook chucks steak until well browned on both sides.
  3. Once the meat is browned add chuck steak to your crockpot, and add the washed small red potatoes
  4. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine steak sauce, water, and brown sugar, mustard and lemon juice until blended. Pour mixture over steak in the crockpot, and mix into the meat.
  5. Turn your crockpot on low and allow to cook for 7 hours (or even a little more or less depending on the thickness of the steak), or until fork-tender.
  6. Steak can be served over rice, pasta, or over a baked potato Yum!
  7. Pour sauce over steak or serve separately.


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Oct 17, 2011


My original plan was to take this beautiful chicken out of the crockpot and post a picture of the chicken on a platter. Thank goodness I took a picture before I pulled the chicken out because as soon as I attempted to take it out the entire chicken fell to pieces.

It was so tender that I ended up taking it out piece by piece.  Yep it looked like a mess, but boy was it tender. The flavor was incredible and it was so super easy. I simply put the chicken in the crockpot, rubbed it down with spices, and 7 hours later it was done.

The chicken doesn’t require any type of liquid because it will make its own. I have a feeling it was done long before the 7 hours, but I just didn’t bother to check. I love the ease of this recipe all you have to do is put it in the crockpot then forget about it!
Don’t ask me why but I never thought of roasting a chicken in the crockpot, but after this yummy creation I don’t think I would waste the energy by sticking it in the oven and heating up the entire house! Crockpot Roasted Chicken Perfection!


Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large roasting chicken   
  • 1 cup chopped onion

Directions:


  1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
  2. Remove any giblets from chicken and clean chicken.
  3. Rub spice mixture onto the chicken.
  4. Place chopped onion in bottom of crock pot.
  5. Add chicken. No liquid is needed, the chicken will make it's own juices.
  6. Cook on low 4-8 hours.


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Oct 10, 2011


This recipe is awesome!! It reminds me of Chili's baked cinnamon apples, or even baked apple pie without the piecrust. I am not one who likes piecrust, so for me this recipe is wonderful. It would be excellent with vanilla ice cream. The smell in your house while this is baking makes it really hard not to sample it before the timer goes off. It's simple and has a very nice end result. 5 Stars all the way!! This would be really great during the holidays.

Apple Filling:
  • 6 cups apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar (you could cut the sugar down to 1/4 if you don't care for extra sweet)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (you could cut the sugar down to 1/4 if you don't care for extra sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Prepare a 9x13 baking dish by lining it with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. This will be helpful when it comes to clean up.
  3. With a peeler peel each apple, and core the apples
  4. Cut apples into 1/4's then cut each 1/4 in half, then cut the cut those pieces into 1/3's
  5. In a large zip bag place 1 tbsp. flour then add the apples, zip the bag up, and shake until the apples are covered in flour. It will be so light you won't see the flour on the apples
  6. Add both sugars to the bag, then zip the bag up and shake well
  7. Add the cinnamon and nutmeg zip and shake well
  8. Add the lemon juice and melted butter, then zip and shake well
  9. In your prepared baking pan pour in the apple mixture from the zip bag, and spread out on the pan.
  10. Place in the 450 degree oven
  11. Bake for 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes to insure the apples don't dry out and cook evenly.
  12. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Serving warm is best.

Oct 5, 2011


Recently I went from having a kitchen freezer and a full size large freezer to just having a kitchen freezer. Our large freezer died, and we do not want to purchase a new one until we move in the spring. Less to move! Wow what an adjustment. As you can see, my freezer is packed. We never have enough room now. I cannot stock up on many of the things I did stock up on. When I was cleaning out the large freezer, I can across things that looked like they had been there five years.
I am horrible about putting things in the freezer that later become unidentifiable. I do not know what they are much less, how long they have been there. Even when I have gone through the trouble of labeling, I am never sure if it is safe to eat. I could never have told you what it was. Is there a time limit when freezing food? I found this article on Yahoo Green to be very informative. How long can you freeze food?

Oct 4, 2011

I love spaghetti sauce, but I do not like it in the jar. I grew up on fresh homemade sauce, whereas my husband grew up on spaghetti sauce in a jar. I only buy in the jar when I can practically get it for free with coupons. I found this great article that gives you tips on how to “fancy up” spaghetti sauce in a jar! -Nic


Not many of us have time to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. Thankfully, there are many brands on the market that have a good flavor. However, if you want your sauce to taste more homemade, there are some things you can do. Best of all, you won't have to do a lot of work. After all, if you had time to do all the work, you'd have time to make your own sauce.
 

Saute Fresh Vegetables and Add Them to the Sauce
One of the best ways you can doctor up a bottle of store-bought spaghetti sauce is to add fresh sauteed vegetables. One of my favorites is sliced white mushrooms, which I saute in a bit of olive oil and add a bit of sea salt right before they're finished cooking. It's important to season the vegetables before adding them to the sauce or they will taste bland inside the sauce. You can also add sauteed bell peppers, onions, carrots, zucchini or any other vegetables you may like. This is also a great way to bulk up your sauce without adding too much fat. Just be sure to drain the vegetables well before stirring into the sauce or you'll have an oil slick on top.

Stir in a Bit of Fresh Garlic
There is nothing like the flavor of fresh garlic. Adding a bit of fresh garlic to store-bought spaghetti sauce can add a punch of flavor. You can either add the garlic straight to the sauce or add to the vegetables as you saute them. Either way, this is a great way to doctor up the sauce and make it taste more homemade.

Add Freshly Cooked Ground Beef
If you've ever purchased store-bought spaghetti sauce that had ground beef, chances are you never did it again. There is just something strange about the texture. However, if you want a meat sauce, you can easily brown up a package of ground beef and stir your sauce into it after it's been drained. It's not only a great way to doctor up your sauce, but it will make your sauce nice and thick as well. If you want to cut back on calories, use 93-96% fat-free ground beef.

Snip in a Few Fresh Herbs
If you have an herb garden, this can be a wonderful way to add a bit of flavor to your store-bought sauce. Freshly snipped basil, oregano or even parsley will add a fresh flavor to your sauce. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand, add a bit of dried Italian seasoning or onion powder. In either case, you need to add seasonings sparingly or you could overwhelm the sauce and cause it to taste bitter or too fragrant.

Adjust the Thickness to Suit Your Tastes
Some store-bought sauces can be too thin and some can be too thick, especially after you add meat and sauteed vegetables. Thankfully, this is easy to remedy. If your sauce is too thick, fill the empty sauce jar about 1/4 to1/3 of the way with water. Place on the lid and shake to remove any of the excess sauce left in the jar. This will help ensure that the sauce doesn't get too watered down. If your sauce is too thin, you can take a couple tablespoons of water and mix with about a tablespoon of corn starch to create a slurry. You thin stir the slurry into the sauce and allow it to come to a boil. Once it boils for about a minute, your sauce should be nice and thick.

Original Article 

Oct 2, 2011



I can honestly say I learned a lot from this article. I had no idea you shouldn't wash your chicken. I grew up being told to do half of these things. Koo-doos to the author!! -Nic


By Kemp Minifie, Gourmet Live

Let’s just admit it: Americans chow down on a lot of chicken—82.2 pounds per person in 2010 alone! So here are 10 things you should know about our favorite fowl, safety tips included.

For the best possible bird, DON’T:

1. Wash the Chicken

This may come as a shock to all of you who automatically rinse your poultry just before cooking. It certainly was for me. So what’s the big deal? Cross contamination! Rinsing your chicken is an ideal way to spew nasty pathogens all over your sink and the surrounding area. Rinsing never did get rid of pathogens anyway. Instead, try to get the meat onto the baking pan with as little contact as possible. Then wipe down your counter with hot soapy water or a mixture of hot water and 1 tablespoon liquid bleach.

2. Use an Old Plastic Cutting Board
There’s an ongoing controversy about the safety of wood versus plastic boards for cutting raw chicken. As it turns out, old plastic cutting boards must be run through a dishwasher to be sanitized. Wood boards, on the other hand, are equally clean after a hand washing.

Related: Is the Cupcake Trend Over Yet?

3. Forget to Wash Your Hands
You can’t be reminded often enough: Wash your hands well and scrub under your nails. Have you noticed that chefs and serious cooks don’t have long nails? And they tend not to wear jewelry, either. Both provide great hiding places for bacteria. That mysterious stomach bug you had could very well have been a case of food poisoning from your own kitchen.

4. Ignore the Magic Number
A lot of cooks still aren’t aware that the folks at the USDA dropped the recommended safe temperatures for all cooked poultry five years ago to 165°F. The good news is that this results in juicy, tender meat. (The old temperatures were 180°F for a whole roast bird tested in the thigh, or 170°F for a breast. Both often result in dry-as-cotton meat.)

5. Pull It Out When it Looks Done
The best way to know when your chicken has reached the magic number is an instant-read thermometer. “You really can’t tell by looking,” says Diane Van, Manager of the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, who suggests you may want to test your chicken in more than one spot. This is particularly important with a whole roast bird: Test both thighs and the thickest part of the breasts—some of the chickens these days sport boobs big enough to fill a double-D bra.

6. Pick Your Chicken from the Front of the Shelf
At the market, look for the most distant sell-by date. This means searching in the back of the stacks because the oldest chicken is usually stuck in front. Don’t be afraid to be a nuisance at the poultry case. (The re-stockers of the chicken shelves at my local market roll their eyes when they see me coming.)

See Also: ScarJo's A Carb Queen! 5 Things She Actually Eats

7. Let Your Chicken Hang Around
Cook your chicken within two days of buying it. Home fridges are warmer than the ones in stores (which can go as low as 26°F), and tend to be opened often. Keep it any longer and, even if the sell-by date is way in the future, you’ll probably end up tossing it once you open the package to that telltale, hold-your-nose, the-chicken’s-gone-off aroma. Out to the garbage it goes, leaving you scrambling to figure out something else for dinner. Sound familiar?

8. Throw Out the Scraps
Once this is ingrained into your routine, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start a long time ago. When you’ve got a decent pile of scraps, parts, skin, and bones, dump them in a pot and make a homemade chicken stock. I just can’t bear to spend money on something that’s not only easy to make but also tastes so much better than anything you can buy.

9. Trim All the Fats
The fat police want us to skim and snip every bit of fat from our meat and stocks, but chicken fat has some winning qualities. It is high in palmitoleic acid, which is thought to be an immune booster, and it can also be a source of oleic acid, which is a good thing for cholesterol.  Also, poultry fats are low in polyunsaturated fatty acids, making them more stable than other fats at higher heat.

10. Roast or Broil It
Isn’t crisp skin and tender, juicy meat what we most yearn for in chicken? But how to reach that double-whammy nirvana? High-heat roasting doesn’t always result in perfect skin, and broiling can dry out the meat. Here’s a chef tip: Pan-roast your chicken


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