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22 December 2015

Frost Free Windows


Winter has officially begun (as of yesterday, December 21)!  Want to keep your windows frost-free this winter?  Try wiping them with a solution of a half a cup rubbing alcohol per one quart of water.

Mmm...tasty?


17 December 2015

Dashing Through the Snow

It's snowing here today (or was earlier anyway).  It's a balmy 32-ish degrees - Fahrenheit not Celsius - and I'm loving it.

But...the temperature is supposed to be in the 70s by the weekend.

Welcome to Oklahoma.  If you don't like the weather just wait a bit.

Anywho, how about some November goodies?  As seems to be the case all too often lately, I'm getting around to posting photos much later than I'd like, but, hey, life is busy and is meant to be lived.

At least it's still the holiday season - and who doesn't want to relive a little Fall and Thanksgiving goodness?

Without further ado, please enjoy the following photos:

15 December 2015

Hold the Heat


You probably know that the seeds in a chile hold quite a bit of the heat, but did you know that most of the capsaicin (the heat producing compound) actually resides in the ribs of the chile?  To really cut back on a pepper's heat, halve it lengthwise and use a small paring knife to scrape out the ribs and seeds.

Mmm...tasty!


01 December 2015

What in the World is "Velveting?"


Ever had stir fry from a really good Chinese restaurant and been amazed at the silky texture of the meat?  This texture is achieved by using a technique called velveting:  coating the meat in a mix of cornstarch, egg whites, and seasonings before frying.  The coating forms a crust that seals in moisture and protects the meat from the high heat of the wok.

Mmm...tasty!


18 November 2015

Ooo...October

Hey there!  It's been awhile since I posted cakes and other creations, so as a reward for your patience, today I've got all the goodies from October.

Never mind the fact that it is after the middle of November.  Better late than never right?

Not too many details, etc. will be included today, so just sit back and enjoy the eye candy.

17 November 2015

Egg Roll Wrapper Chips


If you ever find yourself with leftover egg roll wrappers, try making them into flavored baked chips.  To do, simply brush oil on the wrappers, sprinkle with seasoning (some ideas:  onion salt, sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon sugar, minced garlic, chile powder), cut into chip shapes, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 375°F for 5 to 6 minutes.

Mmm...tasty!


03 November 2015

What in the World is Bucatini?



Bucatini is a long strand pasta that has a hole running down the middle.  It's thicker than spaghetti, so it stands up to hearty sauces and works better than most long pastas in baked dishes.  If you can't find bucatini, look for perciatelli - it's the same thing.

Mmm...tasty!

27 October 2015

Polka Dot Pie Crust


Want to dress up your pie crust?  Try adding polka dots rather than crimping the edges.  To do:  trim edges of crust evenly, then use the trimmings to cut out small circles of dough.  Attach the circles to the edge of the crust after filling it but before placing in the oven (just use a dab of water or egg wash to attach).  You can eve go a step further and brush the dots with egg then sprinkle with sugar before baking.

Mmm...tasty!


20 October 2015

What in the World is Miso?


Miso a fermented soybean paste, often used in Japanese cooking.  It contains probiotics that aid digestive health and help form Vitamin K.  Miso is high in sodium (1 Tbsp has a quarter of the daily recommended allowance), but studies show it may not raise blood pressure like table salt.

Miso is commonly found in plastic or glass tubs in the Asian foods aisle at your grocery store.  It comes in three varieties - white, yellow, and red.  The darker the miso, the longer it's been fermented.  The longer the fermentation the stronger and saltier it will taste.  You can store miso in the fridge for up to 1 year.

Mmm...tasty!


13 October 2015

Easier Roasted Peppers


Roasted peppers are a delicious addition to many recipes, but who wants to spend all that time constantly turning a whole pepper to get it charred?  Why not just cut the pepper into panels that can sit flat on the heat? 

To cut the panels, place the pepper stem end up and slice a flat "panel" off one side, being careful to avoid most of the core.  Repeat this cut three more times to give you four flat panels.  Discard the core (stem, seed, and most of the ribs).  Roast away!

Mmm...tasty!


06 October 2015

What's the Difference - Cobbler vs Crumble vs Crisp?

'Tis the season for cobblers and crumbles and crisps!  But, what's the difference?

  • In cobbler the biscuits atop this fruity fave resemble cobblestones, which is how this dessert is presumed to have gotten it's name.
  • In a crumble the fruit filling is topped with a crumbly streusel made from flour, sugar, and butter.
  • In a crisp, which is often confused with the crumble, the streusel topping is made crunchy with nuts or oats.
A couple of bonuses:
  • A pandowdy is much like a cobbler; it's fruit topping is topped with pie crust or biscuit dough, but the pandowdy's surface is often arranged in a patchwork pattern.
  • A grunt (aka slump) is a cobbler that's cooked, covered, on the stovetop instead of in the oven.  The funny name is a reference to the noise that comes out of the pot while it cooks.
  • A brown Betty is a dish made of layered buttered breadcrumbs with sliced apples or other fruit that is baked until browned.
  • A buckle reverses the order of the fruit and batter - the batter is the base and the fruit is the topping.  When baked, the base bubbles and buckles up around the juicy fruit piled on top.
Mmm...tasty!

30 September 2015

September Splendor

Okay, okay.  Referring to the creations I made this past month as "splendor" might come across as a bit braggy and I realize this.  Which is exactly why I'm not necessarily referring to them as such.  I chose "splendor" in the post title for two reasons:

  1. I wanted something that kinda, sorta rhymed with September (and come on bonus points for the use of alliteration.)
  2. It's an excellent word to refer to the changing season, namely that the leaves are just starting to turn and the air is getting that fall feel to it.
So, there's that long winded explanation.  Oh, and speaking of fall, how about a few of my favorite things about this season?

29 September 2015

Slow Cooked Greatness


Want to get the most out of your slow cooker?  Keep these tips in mind:
  • Fill your slow cooker at least halfway but not more than two thirds full - this will allow the food to cook properly and safely.
  • You can forgo morning prep and prep ahead of time by placing all the ingredients in the crock then covering and refrigerating over night.  In the morning, place the crock in the slow cooker and turn it on.
  • Don't open the lid to stir or "check" the dish during cooking (unless the recipe specifies that you do so).  Each time you lift the lid, you increase the cooking time by 20 to 30 minutes.
Mmm...tasty!



22 September 2015

Pesto Preservation


In most cases, you can make pesto ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 1 week.  Or, better yet, freeze small portions in an ice cube tray.  Once fully frozen, transfer to a resealable bag and defrost as needed.

Mmm...tasty!

15 September 2015

To Eat Or Not To Eat?


Ah, the expiration date.  It's a safety feature that, I'll admit, I probably ignore more often than I should.  Sometimes if it passes the smell and looks test, I move on to a taste test and if it passes that, I go ahead and eat the food even if the expiration date says not to (within reason of course).

Oh, don't look at me like that!  Who wants to waste more food than necessary?!  Depending on the type of expiration date on the container, that food may still be perfectly good.  But how to know?  Here's some of the most common expiration date styles and what they mean according to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service:
  • Use By - this date is the last date recommended for the use of product while at peak quality; the date has been determined by the manufacturer.  Often you'll see this on fresh foods like dairy and meat products; either use or freeze these items by the "use by" date and don't purchase items past their "use by" date.
  • Best Before/Best If Used By - this date is recommended for best flavor and/or quality; it is not a purchase or safety date. Products with these types of dates are generally still safe to consume even after the "best before" date.
  • Sell By/Packed On - this date tells the store how long to display a product for sale; you should buy the product before the date expires, but that doesn't mean you have to consume the product by then.
And one bonus,

  • Closed or coded dates - these are dates or codes are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer, they have no impact on expiration.  They are used to help rotate stock and in some cases for interstate commerce.
So, that jar of pickles with the "best by" date that passed a week or so ago is most likely still edible, no need to throw it out just yet!

Mmm...tasty!

08 September 2015

Chipotle Peppers - What Do I Do With the Leftovers?


I love, love, love Mexican and Spanish influenced dishes, so I often come across recipes that call for one (1) chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.  That's great, but they don't exactly sell 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce in the store - what am I supposed to do with the others?

Luckily, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for up to 6 months.

No more buying a whole can for just one pepper!

Mmm...tasty!


03 September 2015

Just Some Considerations

Consider this:

It's the 3rd day of September and with this blog post, I will have posted all the goodies from August.  Getting things posted to the blog so quickly hasn't happened in quite some time.  I admit, I feel a bit ninja-like.

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01 September 2015

Good Eggs


Egg turnover in my refrigerator is seldom a problem with all the baking I do; though occasionally I'll fail to rotate the stock like I should and will find myself down to the last eggs in the fridge with a well past "Sell By" date.

Turns out I can determine which eggs are still good eggs and which eggs are past their usability (i.e. bad eggs) with this simple method:
  • Fill a bowl/cup/etc with water (preferably a glass container or one that you can see through).  Make sure you have enough water in the container to completely cover + some the egg.
  • Gently place an egg in the container.
    • If it floats, you've found a bad egg.  It's no good; toss it immediately.
    • If it sinks, you've found a good egg.  Yay!  Keep for future use.
    • If it stands on one end, you've found an egg that's starting to go bad.  You can still use these, but you need to do so as soon as possible.
Mmm...tasty!



26 August 2015

A Splashing Good Time

Labor Day is just around the corner - the unofficial end to summer.  But, let's be honest, summer has already pretty well ended for most of us; school starting back up pretty well takes care of that.

And, I'm rather looking forward to fall; it is one of my favorite times of the year.

But, before we start looking forward too much to crunchy leaves and pumpkin spice everything, how about one last dip in the pool?

P8070076_ew

Even if it is just your toes in the water, it still counts right?

18 August 2015

Cupcake Counsel


Want to bake a better cupcake?  Keep these tips in mind:
  • If your recipe calls for butter, make sure it's at room temperature.
  • Measure flour by spooning it into a measuring cup and then leveling with a knife.  Don't pack the flour!
  • Check the expiration dates on your baking soda and baking powder.  You can test for freshness by adding a pinch of either to a little bit of vinegar; it should bubble.
  • Use parchment or foil nonstick liners for batters with mix-ins like chocolate chips - the chips can stick to paper liners.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to evenly measure batter into the muffin cups.
  • Don't leave cupcakes in the pan to cool; remove them to a wire rack.  Leaving them in the pans may cause them to dry out faster.
Mmm...tasty!



P.S.  Several of these tips are important when baking cakes, too!


11 August 2015

Sprinkle School


A sprinkle by any other name...is still a sprinkle.  But, just in case you were curious what's what, how about a little pictorial review of some of the most common ones?


Dragees:  metallic balls that range in size from 2 to 10 millimeters and often come in a variety of metallic shades.


Jimmies:  the classic sprinkle you top your ice cream with; rainbow version is most common, but you can find them in all colors online and in some stores.


Nonpareils:  tiny spheres sometimes referred to as hundreds-and-thousands; they come in a wide variety of colors as well.


Quins:  decorative sugar pieces; stars and circles are common, but you can find them in tons of seasonal shapes, too.


Sanding Sugar:  a high sparkle topping that is slightly coarser than granulated sugar; comes in a variety of colors.

This is by no means a complete list of "sprinkle" options, but it's a nice primer.  Now, who wants sprinkles?

Mmm...tasty!



04 August 2015

Odor Out


Slicing or dicing garlic, onions, and other pungent vegetables can be a smelly task - one that leaves your hands smelling of the project long after it's completed.

A quick solution?  If you have a stainless steel sink in your kitchen, just run your hands along it several times.  (You have to do this rather vigorously, so you might get some strange looks if others are in the kitchen, but it's all good.)  Viola, no more garlic or onion smell!

If you don't have a stainless steel sink, you can use any other type of stainless steel surface.  Or, they even make stainless steel "bars" (they look similar to bars of soap) that you could keep on hand.

Mmm...tasty!


28 July 2015

Seeing Red


Every once in a while you might notice a bright red spot on a chicken breast, even after it's been fully cooked.  That bright red spot is probably just a vein - it stays red even after fully cooking and it's completely edible.  If it bothers you, you can check the raw pieces of chicken for the red spots and slice them off before cooking.

Mmm...tasty!


23 July 2015

Ba-Na-Na

Well...we all know they are taking over the world.  They are in movie theaters, McDonald's Happy Meals (maybe even cussing, according to some news stories), clothing, home goods - absolutely everywhere.  And, now, they are even in cake...

P7170047_ew

Apologies for the poor photo quality - it was late.  And, I haven't yet figured out how people who live in humid areas work with fondant and get it to cooperate!  It was humid in these parts when I built these two and the ruffles on the skirts just wouldn't hold - I can only guess that it was due to the humidity.  But, hey, at least it's been raining!

21 July 2015

Against the Grain


What does it mean to cut meat against the grain?  First things first, the "grain" of the meat refers to the direction of its muscle fibers.  So cutting against the grain means cutting across those parallel fibers to make the meat easier to chew.

How do you know what direction to cut?  Examine the meat's surface and find the direction of the muscle strands.  Place your knife perpendicular to those strands, then slice.  This is easiest to do with cuts like flank steak or tenderloin.

Mmm...tasty!


14 July 2015

Great Granola


If you've ever made homemade granola, you've probably noticed that it starts out crisp and crunchy, but often loses that crunchiness after a few days, especially if it contains dried fruit.  (The moisture in the fruit softens the oats.)

To keep it crisp, freeze the granola in zippered storage bags; it'll keep for up to six months.  Freezing will also prevent the nuts in the granola from spoiling.  Let the granola come to room temperature a few minutes before serving.

Mmm...tasty!