Sunday, May 22, 2011

Do I Really Need That?

The kitchen gadget under scrutiny today is the Kitchen Aid Counter Top Mixer. I have one. I love it. When I moved recently I made sure it was in the car with us so I knew where it was at all times. Crazy, huh? I know! But this thing is probably the best thing in my kitchen! It does everything. I don't even use it to it's capacity. I don't think I even know how to use it to it's capacity.
The one I have pictured here is the Professional 600. I also have an older one, a white one that is a little smaller. I wish I had a picture to show you, but it is still not unpacked from the trailer, from when we moved. No more moving!!!  Anyway! Do you need this mixer? No. A smaller, handheld mixer will do the job for most cooks. A handheld can make potatoes, cookies, and even mix bread dough. They are making them bigger and better.
But this mixer will do it without having to be held.
It can also do large batches at a time. Such a convenience.
So, no, you don't need it, but yes, it makes everything easier.
It is definitely worth it.
It can make really good cookies like these:
 Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Ocean Spray Recipes) 
2/3 cup softened Butter
2/3 cup Brown Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 1/2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 1/2 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup Craisins Dried Cranberries
2/3 cup White Chocolate Chips
  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using your mixer,
beat butter and sugar together.

When it is fluffy, add your eggs. Thoroughly mix.

In a separate bowl, mix together your oats,
flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add your flour mix to the butter mix a little
bit at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Stop mixing with the mixer, and add
cranberries and chips by hand.

I put my cookies together by hand.
I usually use a cookie scoop, but these really need
to be hand formed. The scoop made them too rounded,
 and they stayed round while they cooked.
I formed them into a round, flat cookie,
and I think they looked better!

Bake for 10-12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack!

ENJOY!

Join me tomorrow for next weeks grocery list. We are going to make a
delicious picnic type meal that you can make
for your Memorial Day Weekend.
See you then!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Our Dessert~Chocolate Pots De Creme

This weeks dessert is chocolate pots de creme. Chocolate?! Is there any question? It's chocolate! So delicious and creamy. You will love it. Easy to make also!!
Here is your recipe: (adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook)

2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup half & half
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons rum flavoring
dash of salt
 Heat your oven to 350 degrees. On the stove heat the chocolate chips
and the 1/2 & 1/2, stirring constantly until the chips are melted and the 
mixture is smooth. 

Your chocolate should look like this when it is done.
Take off the burner to cool while you set up 
your custard cups.
Set your custard cups in a baking dish. The dish needs
to be deep because you will be adding water to it.
Beat the eggs, sugar, rum flavoring, and 
salt in a separate bowl. 
Add the ingredients to the chocolate, a little bit at a time.
Stir after each addition.
Distribute the chocolate evenly into the custard cups.
I had set the baking pan up to handle 5 cups,
but I only needed 4. 
Add boiling water to your baking pan. You should add 
enough so that the water goes about 1/2 way up 
the custard cups. This is called a "bain marie" or a
water bath. This  technique is used a lot when making 
cheesecakes, custards, sauces or other items that
require a gentle heat that won't break or curdle. 

This is a side picture so you can see the water 
about 1/2 way up.
Bake for 20 minutes.
This is how they look when they are baked. Remove 
the custard cups carefully, as they are very hot. 
Here they are, all finished. Wrap each cup in
saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, 
but no more than 24 hr.
Enjoy your pots de creme.!


I hope you like this dessert! I have made this several times in different restaurants, but I have never used 
chocolate chips. I have always used a high quality chocolate, and I think that making it that way is much better. But it is important to try the recipes, and maybe make some changes where you feel it is necessary.
That is how you get to the point where you can sometimes look at a recipe, and know that it won't work, or that it will. Just experience!!

Thanks for joining me today. Tomorrow we will debate the merits of a certain kitchen accessory.
Next weeks menu contain some recipes you might want to try for the Memorial Day weekend!!
See you tomorrow!!!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Green Beans Almondine!

I love fresh green beans. They are versatile, and pretty much a go-with-the-flow kinda vegetable. They can be used so many different ways, they are a chameleon among fellow veggies! I thought they would be the perfect veggie to partner with our homemade Meatloaf, and they were! Here's the recipe:

1/2 pound Fresh Green Beans
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds
3 tablespoons Butter
 Wash your green beans thoroughly.
Trim the ends of each of the beans.
Place the beans in a pot and bring to a boil. 
Boil until tender, about 13-15 minutes.
Just taste one to check tenderness.
When beans are done, drain in a colander.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add your almonds.
Add your green beans, and cook in the pan until they are hot, 
and the almonds start to turn light brown.
Super simple, & oh so good for us.
Enjoy your green bean almondine!

I am excited that it is quickly becoming fresh vegetable season! 
Look for lots of great recipes coming up throughout the next few months.

Tomorrow we will be making our dessert for our meatloaf meal~Chocolate Pots De Creme!
Thanks for joining me today~Hope to see you tomorrow!!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lets Make Meatloaf!!

Today we are baking our entree~Homemade Meatloaf! There are probably a thousand different meatloaf renditions at there. This one is pretty basic and very deliciously moist. Here's the recipe:

1.5 pounds Ground Beef
1/2 cup Crushed Saltines
1 Egg
Ketchup
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
The first thing you need to do is chop your onion. The correct way to chop
an onion is to first cut off both ends. Peel the skin off. Then cut 
the onion in half thru both axis.
Put the onion on its side, cut side down, so the rounded 
half is on top. Cut slices starting at the front.
Take a small stack of slices, and begin cutting down 
the slices. This is going in the direction of the onion
and makes the cutting easier. Now the onion should be in small 
chopped pieces. You will probably have to cut a few pieces that
didn't cut the first time. 
Place the ground beef, the chopped onion, the egg,
garlic powder, and salt & pepper (just a sprinkle of each),
in a bowl.
Place about 1/2 of a sleeve of the saltines into a plastic zip lock.
Let the air out, and zip the bag.
Roll a rolling pin over the bag of saltines until they are 
crushed into fine crumbs. 
Add the saltines into the bowl.
Mix Well.
 Spray with a loaf pan, and place meatloaf mix into it.
Squirt ketchup like above. Bake in oven at 350 degrees
for about 30 minutes.
It will look like this when it is done
When the meatloaf is done, let it set and "rest" for about 10 minutes. 
To rest the meat means to give the meat 10 minutes to
let the juices in the meat redistribute itself, so they do 
not all flow out when the meat is cut. If the juices are 
not kept in the meat, the meat will be dry with no flavor.
Enjoy your meatloaf. Doesn't that look good?

There are many variations of meatloaf. You could add mushrooms,
or green or red peppers just to name a few. You could even add jalapenos!
Or, how about cheese!!

Thanks for joining me today!
See you tomorrow. We will be making fresh green bean almondine.

I hope you are following me, having fun, and learning something!!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy!

Today, instead of making a salad, or cooking soup, I thought we would make some mashed potatoes. Pretty much the ultimate comfort food. You can make potatoes with the skin on or the skin off. I made these with the skin off. Mashed potatoes are one of my husbands favorite dishes, and he likes potatoes with the skin off. 
Here's what we need to make mashed potatoes:
Potatoes
Boiling Water
Butter
Beef Base
Flour
Cold water
Boiling Water (again)
I don't know why I put the sour cream in the pic(!!???!!)

There are many different varieties of potatoes to choose from. I chose a russet potato grown right here in Nevada. I like the texture. I thought about buying the Yukon Golds. I have used them in several restaurants in the past. The skins are thin and delicious and they have a natural buttery flavor. But I decided on the russet because it is grown locally, and russets have a high starch content, which help them bake well and yields a light and fluffy mashed.
 
Wash and then dry your potatoes.
Peel your potatoes.
Chop them into bite size pieces. The smaller the pieces,
the quicker they cook!
Boil your potatoes for about 12-15 minutes. Check to see if
they are done by poking a couple pieces with a fork. If the fork
goes thru the piece, your potatoes are done.
Drain your potatoes.
Heat about 1/2 cup of milk to 150 degrees.
Pour some of the milk onto the potatoes, and begin to mash
with a potato masher. Add more milk if needed.

They should look like this. (I wish this was a clearer picture!)
 Maybe a little better.?!

Now lets make the gravy. Here is what you need:

Beef Base
 flour
I followed the directions to make the pint of gravy.
I used:
2 1/2 teaspoons Beef Base
1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Cold Water
1 1/2 cup Boiling Water
Put the base and the flour into the pan, and mix together.
Boil water.
While you are waiting for the water to boil
add your cold water.Your base and flour should look like this
after the cold water is mixed in.
Add the boiling water, and stir until smooth.
Bring gravy to a low boil.
Add seasoning. I only added pepper. The base is really
salty already.
Enjoy the mashed potatoes & gravy!

I hope you liked the mashed potatoes and gravy today. We could have done a few things differently if we were so inclined! We could have baked the potatoes instead of boiling them. Baking them, before mashing them, results in a totally different flavor. We could have boiled the potatoes in milk instead of water. The potatoes would have been much richer as a result. If we didn't want to make the gravy, we could have added
garlic or grated cheese to the potatoes.

I usually like to make my gravy to include drippings from the meat instead of using the beef base, but with a dish like meatloaf, there are no drippings that are usable. The juice from the ground beef is too greasy to turn into gravy, and therefore the beef base makes a really good substitute. I used the Tone's brand that I purchased at Sam's Club. It is less than $4.00 for the 1 pound container,and a little goes a long way. I have used beef base in kitchens for years, and it is amazing how many times you will reach for it once you get used to having it around.

Tomorrow we will make our entree~Meatloaf!!!
Join us!!