Saturday, July 26, 2014

Strawberry Freezer Jam and the Not So Bloomin' Onion

I got my hands on a flat of strawberries this week for only $6.00 at Pete's Fruit Market on 17th and
Freezer Jam
Greenfield. I was intent on canning jam this weekend however my hubby has misplaced all one dozen of my jars. I did have a pack of Mrs. Wages freezer jam though and tried it out for the first time. I ended up mashing the strawberries with my pastry cutter. Whatever works right? Then I added 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the Mrs. Wages pack. It's all mixed together and sits for 3 minutes. Then into plastic bags or sanitized jars. It will stay in the fridge for a week or up to 6 months in the freezer. We have enjoyed it with cream cheese on toast.

Let me add that not everything I make comes out right. I had always wanted to make a Bloomin' onion at home and got my hands on some delicious Vidalia onions. I started out wonderfully by making the perfect looking bloomed onion. I left the root end on and peeled the onion. I then made four cuts from the top to a few centimeters above the root. In those sections I made 2-3 more cuts. The onion should have a minimum of 16 cuts. Then I separated all of those sections.

The batter was good I thought. It had 2 TBSP paprika, 1 tsp of salt, cumin, cayenne, and was an egg batter. So two eggs to the 2 cups flour and then 1 cup milk or buttermilk . If the batter is too thick you can add water to it.
You could also sub out beer for the liquid and make a beer batter just omit the eggs.

Here  is where I think I went wrong. I really needed a basket fryer for this. I tried to do it on the stove top. the batter wasn't all in the grooves of the onion and stuck to the bottom of the pan. The heat also wasn't enough. The temp should have been around 400 degrees and then is lowered to around 350.

My onion came out a bit soggy. Oh well, there is always next time. I ended up using the batter for fried pickles. I have a recipe for that in the search.
not so Bloomin onion 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Homemade Garlic Bread

We are blessed with many good bakeries here around Bay View. I found a nice wide loaf of bread for the perfect garlic bread. My hubby once attempted to make garlic bread but used garlic salt. Needless to say it was a tad salty! This bread uses delicious butter, fresh garlic, and the herbs you have on hand to make a perfect side for your spaghetti dinner. For those of you that don't know, you can freeze bread. Please make sure your loaf is defrosted before attempting to cut into it! It did make for a few funny moments in my kitchen. No worries! Just leave the bread to defrost on the countertop.

Garlic Bread

1 large wide loaf of bread from the bakery
1 stick of butter
2 tsps garlic (I used pre minced)
herbs of your choice (if you use fresh they may burn) such as Oregano
1/4 cup Parm cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder

Mix the herbs, Parm, and garlic into the butter along with the garlic salt. Spread liberally over the two halves of the bread. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve with your favorite main dish.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie

For many years it was the meringue that eluded me. I could never get the peaks stiff enough. After much practice I have finally done it! I managed to make my first perfect meringue during Christmas and have been doing it ever since. Some tips: Firstly use a clean glass bowl that has no detergent residue in it. Secondly use a electric mixer on high. Thirdly, use a stabilizer like cream of tartar. You need just a pinch. Fourth, be careful not to get any egg yellows into the whites. This will doom you for sure!
This is what they mean about stiff peaks. 

I made this lemon meringue pie. My Mom would make it growing up and it always tasted fantastic. When I tried to duplicate it a few years back using Jell-o pie filling, there was something off with the taste. I found this recipe on for the filling and love it.

Here's what you need: For the crust I have fallen in love with Martha Stewarts pie crust. It makes two and I used one of them to make Pasties or pies filled with meat, potato, carrots,and peas.  Form and crimp the crust around the pan, use dried beans or pie weights in the bottom of the pie dough our you will have it rising all over. You need to blind bake this crust at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Filling

1 cup sugar
2 TBSP flour
3 TBSP cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 lemons juiced or I used 2-3 TBSP bottled
4 egg yolks (reserve whites in a separate bowl)

In a saucepan mix all of the ingredients except the egg yolks with a whisk. This is something you need to keep an eye one or it will clump. You are looking for the filling to thicken. Remove from the heat.  In a separate bowl add the egg yolks. Add about a cup of the sugar mixture into the egg yolks beating continuously. Then add the egg yolks into the rest of the sugar and continue stirring. This step is called "tempering."  If you don't do this you will have scrambled eggs. Turn the heat to medium low and bring up to a boil. Then turn it back off and let cool. Add to the cooled pie crust.

Egg White Meringue topping

4 egg whites
6 TBSP sugar
a capful of vanilla or 1 tsp.
1 pinch Cream of Tartar

Beat the egg whites on high with a pinch of Cream of Tartar. Gradually add in the 6 TBSP of sugar and vanilla. They will become frothy but are done when you can pull the mixer paddles out and make stiff peaks. Using a spoon layer the meringue on top of the pie filling. I used a knife to make the peaks. Just touch the pie with the knife and pull up. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on the counter for one hour and then stick in the fridge for a hour before serving.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bacon, Cheddar, and Jalapeno Corn Dogs

fill a cup with batter
I found this recipe on Yummly for bacon, cheddar, and jalapeno corn dogs. I love to make hush puppies which are made with the same ingredients, cornmeal and flour. This recipe is a Wisconsinites dream with cheddar and hot dogs in one bite. No need to wait for the State Fair which is in a few weeks. This recipe is easy to make and a crowd pleaser. Oh, and good news! I found a use for my Magic Shake cup I bought at the Fair last year.

Here is how I made it. The recipe called for 8 pieces of bacon diced and 3 jalapenos. Make it to your taste

Bacon, Cheddar, and Jalapeno Corn Dogs

1 pkg long hot dogs
8 short skewers or popsicle sticks
3/4 cup flour plus 1/4 cup for dusting
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 TBSP sugar
flour those doggies
2 eggs
1 pint buttermilk
1/2 cup cheddar shredded
1 jalapeno seeded and diced
1/2 package Oscar Mayer real bacon bits
2-4 inches of oil for frying

Heat the oil in medium heat. I once again used a wok because I could fit a few dogs lengthwise. You could also use a cast iron skillet. Mix all of the batter ingredients together including the jalapeno, cheddar, and bacon bits.
Stick skewers through the long hot dogs. Dust the dogs with flour. It makes the batter stick better. Add the batter to a tall cup. Insert the hotdogs into the batter and use a spoon to pour the batter over the top.
Add the corn dogs to the heated oil and fry about 3 minutes per side or until batter is no longer raw and golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with mustard and ketchup

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Peanut Butter and Shrimp Spring Rolls and Shrimp Fried Rice

I purchased some frozen spring roll wrappers some time ago and finally decided to use them. These wrappers are really easy to use and give you a really crunch crust.  I make fried rice pretty frequently. You can add whatever protein you like and it's a chance to clean out your freezer. Mixed veggies go well in here as well as fresh veggies. Here's how I did it.
spring roll mixture

PB Shrimp Spring Rolls Makes 16

1/2 head cabbage sliced and diced
3 carrots julienned (reserve one for the stir fried rice)
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP oyster sauce
2 TBSP peanut butter
1 1/2 cups frozen shrimp defrosted and diced
1 pkg spring roll wrappers (mine were frozen in the Asian aisle)
2 TBSP mixed cornstarch in water for sealing
2-3 inches oil for frying

Defrost the spring roll wrappers overnight. Bring to room temperature, remove from the package and cover with moistened paper towels. Prepare the carrots and cabbage in a wok heated with a little vegetable or peanut oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes. The veggies will cook when frying. Cool the veggies down before attempting to fill the spring rolls. I used 2 TBSP of veggies in each wrapper.

Carefully peel the first wrapper and use 2 TBSP of the cabbage mixture and place on the wrapper on
be sure to straighten out your wrapper
the end closest to you. Don't over fill. Roll forward three times tucking in the bottom. Next fold over the sides like an envelope. Continue rolling and when you get to the end, apply a finger full of cornstarch to seal. If you don't follow this step, you will have cabbage and shrimp floating all over your wok.

Store on a sheet pan as you are making them. They will rip apart if you try to stack them on top of each other. Also try to make them more slender looking. This is much like making tamales, you find what works for you after making a few.
Don't store like this

Heat the oil in the wok. It's ready when you start to see rippling at the bottom. Fry 3-4 spring rolls at a time until light or golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Note: Cooling the rice makes for a rice that isn't mushy and clumps together.

Shrimp Fried Rice

2 cups cooled cooked rice
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 carrot cut into coins
veggies of your choice (I like to use frozen mixed veggies)
1 egg scrambled
1 diced onion
2 TBSP oil

In a wok or large frying pan heat the veggies for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked shrimp and toss for an additional 3 minutes. Next add the rice and soy sauce. Flip several times until all of the rice is coated with the soy sauce. Next make a spot in the wok for the egg. Scramble and toss into the rice. Fry the rice for 2-3 more minutes stirring often. Serve with your favorite spring rolls.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Best Ever Baked Beans and Potato Salad

Best Ever Baked Beans 

These are awesome because they are good both hot and cold. I make them the night before and my family each makes their way to the fridge and helps themselves. These will be the talk of the picnic. 
3 large cans of Bush's original baked beans 
1 8oz. can of pineapple tidbits drained
1 cup molasses 

2 TBSP mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar

Stir all of the ingredients and bake at 300 degree for two hours. Cool down and put in the fridge or serve hot. 

Potato Salad

8 medium sized potatoes
1 cup Hellman's mayo 
3 stalks celery diced
1 small onion diced
3 eggs sliced 
1 TBSP salt and  1/4 tsp pepper

Boil the potatoes with the skin on for 25-30 minutes with enough water to cover them. They are done when a fork goes into them but not all the way through. The potatoes should have some give to them. Cool them down and remove the skins. Slice the boiled eggs, dice the celery, onion, and potatoes and add to a large bowl. Add the mayo, salt, and pepper. Stir and check for seasoning. The potatoes will soak up the mayo and you may need to add more before serving. 

If going to a picnic keep it on ice until ready to serve or you may substitute sour cream for the mayo. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Knock Off of Lean Cuisine Glazed Chicken

Nine times out of ten when I am buying pre-packed lunch meals I will go for Lean Cuisine Glazed Chicken. I was craving it and made a version of it for my family. They loved it and I am sure you will too! Here's how to make it.

Glazed Chicken

2 chicken tenderloins per person
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup white wine
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 TBSP teriyaki sauce
2 TBSP cornstarch slurry for thickening
1 pat butter

Note:  What's a slurry? Add two TBSP cornstarch to about 1/4 cup warm water and stir. Add to the boiling gravy and it will thicken in a minute or so.

Brown the chicken tenderloins on one side. Season the side that is facing you with salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes. Flip over the chicken, season with salt and pepper,  and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 4-5 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the wine. Use a wooden spoon to get all of the brown bits up. Next add the chicken stock, teriyaki sauce. and garlic. Bring to a boil and add the cornstarch. Stir until it begins to thicken and add the chicken back in. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, add the butter, and serve with wild rice.

Jazzy Wild Rice

1 pkg Near East Wild Rice
1 3/4 cup water (per package directions)
1 can French Style Green beans drained
1/4 cup diced or slivered almonds
1 TBSP butter

Make the rice per package directions. Mine was done cooking in 20 minutes so you really have to keep a eye on it. with a large knife carefully dice the almonds or use slivered almonds. Add one half of a can of French Style green beans. Lastly add a bit of butter, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tarragon Chicken Breasts

I was pretty lucky when I went to my Curves workout this morning. One of the trainers had a overabundance of fresh Tarragon. I love Tarragon. It goes the best with chicken but you can also use it in pestos. Here I used it with some chicken breasts and heavy cream. Delish! This one is a keeper!

You'll need a large frying pan with a cover for this one. I used half and half instead of heavy cream just because that's what I had on hand. It still turned out great!

Tarragon Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts (one per person)
1 cup white wine
1/2 tsp. salt for seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
2 tsp. Tarragon or two sprigs
2 TBSP oil for frying
1 tsp minced garlic

In a large frying pan add the oil and brown the chicken breasts on one side for 5 minutes on medium heat. Season each breast with salt and pepper. They are ready to be flipped over when they no longer stick to the pan. Flip the chicken breasts over and add the wine and minced garlic. Cover the pan and continue cooking over medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the breasts from the pan and add the heavy cream and Tarragon. I took my Tarragon and rolled it into a ball and cut it in half. Bring the sauce to just below a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get the good bits off. Add back the chicken until warmed through. Serve with a side of rice and some butter.