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31 March 2015

A Better Baked Potato

Want to improve your baked potatoes inside and out?  Try brushing the skin with olive oil or melted butter before baking; it'll crisp the skin.  And, don't wrap the potatoes in foil, just prick them all over with a fork and bake at 375°F until tender, about an hour.

You can speed up the baking by starting the potatoes in the microwave for 12 minutes, then brush with the oil and butter and finished in the over for 10 minutes.

And, to add even more "oomph", try sprinkling the potatoes with a little coarse sea salt after brushing them with the olive oil or butter.


24 March 2015

Top Choice Tomato

Spring is in the air.  And, if you're anything like me, the warmer weather makes you long for lots of fresh fruits and veggies.  While our choices in the produce aisle are expanding everyday, there are still quite a few veggies that aren't in season yet, like tomatoes, which are at their peak from summer to early fall.  So, what to do while waiting for prime tomato season?

In the meantime, go for smaller varieties, like cherry, grape, Campari or other vine-ripened tomatoes.  These varieties all tend to be super sweet and are seldom mealy.


20 March 2015

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

I don't always get enough protein.  Don't get me wrong - I get enough protein to meet my "normal" day needs, but not always enough on a heavy training day.  Especially here lately when my long runs are approaching 16 to 18 miles and some of my weekday workouts are 6+ miles AND strength workouts.  That takes a lot of energy to push through.

Yes, I do drink protein shakes occasionally, though I'm not the biggest fan of them.  I'd rather have dessert instead!  So, one solution is these protein balls.  They taste a bit like cookie dough and have that chocolate/sweet element I'm so fond of, plus they are easy to mix up and will keep in the freezer for months.  And, when I need an extra hit of protein, I can just grab one of these and be on my way.

17 March 2015

Jiggle & Wiggle

Pineapple is in season!  Yes, it is available year round, but to get the fruit at its best, opt for it from March to June.

Speaking of pineapple, have you ever noticed that gelatin often has a warning about mixing in raw pineapple and wondered why?  It's because raw pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that prevents proteins like gelatin from setting up.

The fix if you want to use pineapple in your gelatin mold?  Use canned pineapple; it has been heated during processing, which deactivates the bromelain.


10 March 2015

Cracking Buttercream

I've used the same buttercream recipe for years on my cakes, but recently I started experiencing it cracking badly.  I couldn't move a cake without the crusted buttercream growing a spider-web of cracks.  It wasn't terribly noticeable on white buttercream, but on colors it definitely showed and bothered me to no end.

I went on a search for reasons why and found a plethora of possible reasons and ideas for preventing the cracking.  What finally worked for me?  Adding a tablespoon of light corn syrup per batch of buttercream (or approximately 1 TBSP light corn syrup per 2 Lbs of powdered sugar).

Adding this little ingredient to my buttercream has helped stop the cracking issue.  The reason?  The corn syrup helps thin the buttercream and unlike water or milk doesn't evaporate as the buttercream dries/crusts - meaning the icing retains some elasticity that it wouldn't otherwise.


05 March 2015

Time Flies

When you're having fun.  Right?  Isn't that what they say?  Though I still don't know who "they" are, but if anyone knows, pass along their contact info.  I'd like to have a word or two with them about their definition of "fun."

Here it is the start of March and I'm still writing 2014 on things.  Yep, I must be having loads of fun.  So much so I need a vacation...maybe the mountains...

But, I digress.  I haven't shared any of the February goodies with you yet, and here it is March.  So what do you say we check them out?

03 March 2015

Meat Warm-Up

Ever come across a recipe that says to let a cut of meat sit at room temperature for a bit before cooking?  And, did you think to yourself - "nah, don't have the time" or "that can't be safe?"

If you were/are inclined to skip this step - don't.  This resting time lets the meat warm up, which will help it cook more quickly and evenly.  A fridge fresh piece of meat is more likely to get overcooked on the outside before the inside reaches the recommended internal temperature.