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Friday, May 31, 2013

Freezer Tips (Vegetables)

Tips for Freezing Vegetables

  • Frozen vegetables should be used within one year.
  • Always freeze fresh ripe produce. Do not try to freeze overripe produce. Freezing does not make bad food good.
  • Freeze your produce on the day that it was harvested if at all possible.
  • If you can not freeze right away store your vegetables in a cool place. The refrigerator is best.

How to Blanch Vegetables.

Most vegetables will need to be blanched before freezing. This helps maintain vitamins and reduces the actions of enzymes. This will help produce to stay fresh longer.

First wash and drain vegetables.

Bring a pot of water to a full boil. Put vegetables in a blancher or some kind of a wire basket. Plunge the food into the boiling water. Start counting your time immediately. Blanch for the time indicated in your recipe or directions. Each vegetable has a different blanching time.

Immediately after the time is up. Dump the vegetables into ice cold water to cool. Stir gently during the cooling process. Keep the vegetables submerged in the cold water for the same amount of time that it was blanched. Add ice if necessary to keep the water cold.

I have seen it recommended that you plunge the basket and all into the cold water but I prefer to dump just the food. I like to keep my water as cold as possible and the blancher will only add that much more heat to the process.

After food has cooled, package, label and put into the freezer. Place packages in a single layer in your freezer until they are completely frozen. Then you can rearrange and stack things more conveniently. This allows the packages to freeze as quickly as possible. If you stack many on top of each other while still unfrozen, the layers in the middle will take much longer to freeze and may spoil.
http://www.simplycanning.com/freezing-vegetables.html

Freezer Tips (Fruit)

Packing Fruit For Freezer Storage:
The intended use of the frozen fruit determines the type of pack, whether it be dry, sugar or syrup pack.
  • Dry Pack: No sugar is added. This method is for those fruits which can be frozen without any preparation other than washing, draining, discarding imperfect ones and packing (e.g. blueberries, cranberries, currants, gooseberries, rhubarb). Tip: Many fruits and berries can be frozen on trays first before packaging for freezing. Place prepared fruit on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Once frozen, transfer to containers or bags then store in freezer.
  • Sugar Pack: Dry sugar is added. Sprinkle sugar over the fruit, mix gently then allow fruit to stand for approximately 15 minutes (this draws out the juice and dissolves the sugar). It’s also fine to freeze immediately after sugar is added to fruit. Generally, 1/2 to 2/3 cups of sugar per quart of fruit is sufficient. Fruit pieces can also be frozen on trays first before packaging (sprinkle with sugar before freezing).
  • Syrup Pack: Sugar and water are boiled to make a syrup, which is cooled and added to the fruit. Choose a syrup with a strength best suited to tartness of the fruit (syrup recipe chart is below). Slice or cut fruits directly into container. Leave berries whole, if desired. Add just enough syrup to cover fruit: Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of syrup is needed for 1 1/2 cups of sliced fruit or berries; Approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of syrup is needed for halved fruit. Be sure that the syrup covers fruit completely and that headspace is left for expansion.
Quick Tips:

  • Peeling Fruit: You may wish to peel fruit before freezing, an easy way to do that is to bring water to a boil then submerge the fruit in the water for about 45 seconds. Remove fruit and plunge into a sink full of ice cold water. Skins will come right off!
  • Overripe Fruit: Try freezing these as purees, they can be used as dessert toppings and in other tasty ways. Fill icecube trays with puree then freeze. Once frozen, pop them out, put them in a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Take out a cube of fruit puree as needed.
Note: Sugar helps fruit keep its flavor, color and shape, but it is not necessary to prevent spoilage. The amount of sugar or syrup to use depends on the sweetness of the fruit and on individual taste.
Fresh Blueberries In Colander

Packaging Tips:

  • Use only moisture and vapor proof freezer containers or bags to prevent freezer burn and loss of flavor. Use containers when freezing fruits in syrup, freezer bags are great for dry or sugar pack.
  • Account for food expansion, leave 1/2″ per pint or 1″ per quart headspace in containers when packing fruits in syrup. If the containers you are using have a narrow top, you’ll need to increase the headspace to accommodate.
  • When using freezer bags, squeeze as much air as possible from the bags before sealing.
  • To keep fruit pieces submerged in the syrup (if they float above it they will likely darken), crumple a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper or foil and place on top of fruit before sealing container.
  • Make sure to label and date your packages before freezing. Another good idea is to mark the amount of sugar used so you’ll know the amount of sugar to adjust when using fruit in recipes.

How To Thaw

  • Put on open shelf of refrigerator. A one-pound package will thaw in about 6 hours.
  • Place package on kitchen counter. One pound will thaw in about three hours.
  • If the package is watertight, it can be thawed in running cold water in 40 minutes.
  • Watertight package of fruit can be thawed in running lukewarm water in about 20 minutes.
  • Use fruits immediately once thawed.
  • For best results, frozen fruits should be used within the year.

How To Use

Frozen fruits can be used as you would any sweetened fresh fruit, just as they come from the package–Jams, jellies and fruit pies turn out lovely when using frozen fruits. When using the fruit in recipes, remember to allow for the sugar added at time of freezing.
No matter how they are used, do not remove fruits from their cartons until ready to use them. All fruits keep their fresh-fruit flavor and color only a short time after opening and some fruits, such as peaches, darken quickly when exposed to the air.

Getting Ready To Freeze Berries

http://tipnut.com/freeze-fruit/

Freezer Tips (Chicken And Beef)

I am not big on freezer meals... not really sure why.  However there are a few things that I am planning on making to stash in my freezer so I wanted to compile a list of freezer tips to have on hand during this process.

Chicken Freezing Tips
Baked, grilled, or stir-fried chicken: Buy several pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Make four or five different recipes of marinades and rubs. Prick chicken several times with a fork to allow marinades and rubs to penetrate the meat. Package chicken according to your family's appetite.
Combine marinade and breast halves in labeled freezer bags. Seal bags, and knead the pieces of meat to circulate the marinade. Lay bags flat with pieces of meat side by side in a flat pan with sides. Marinate meat for desired time in refrigerator. Place pan in freezer; freeze bags flat. Remove frozen bags from pan, and stack in freezer. For kabobs or stir-fry, cut breast halves into cubes or strips, and follow the same instructions.
Cooked chicken for casseroles, wraps, chicken salad, etc.: Bring 2 whole chickens and enough water to cover to a boil in a large stockpot. Add 2 celery ribs, 2 carrots, 1 onion, and 4 garlic cloves. Reduce heat; cover and simmer about 40 minutes. Remove chicken, and discard vegetables, reserving broth. Remove chicken from bones, and shred. Place 2 cups shredded chicken in labeled quart-size freezer bags. Seal and freeze. Strain broth, cool, and refrigerate. Freeze broth in airtight containers or freezer bags for soups and other recipes.
                                
Ground Beef Freezing Tips
Economical and versatile, ground beef is excellent for investment cooking. Prepare meat loaves, hamburgers, and meatballs, and freeze them uncooked. Or cook the meat with onions and garlic, and freeze it to use as a base for other dishes. On cooking day, just heat the base and add other needed ingredients to create quick tacos, sloppy joes, or beef stroganoff.
Divide 15 pounds raw ground beef, chuck, or sirloin into 3 (5-pound) portions. Use one portion to make 3 (1 1/2-pound) meat loaves (using your favorite recipe); one portion to make 20 (4-inch) hamburger patties (try Sharon's Moroccan Hamburgers); and one portion to make small, medium, or large meatballs (for spaghetti, meatball subs, or meatball lasagna).
Meatloaf: Line loaf pan with enough foil to close over the top. Press meat loaf into pan; close foil, and place in freezer for several hours or overnight. Once frozen, remove from loaf pan. Seal tightly with foil, label, and freeze. On cooking day, remove the foil, and place frozen loaf in loaf pan to thaw and bake.
Hamburgers: Form patties, using the recipe of your choice, and place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Freeze until the patties are no longer soft in the center. (This is called "flash freezing," which will keep them from sticking together when put into the freezer bags.) Seal frozen patties in labeled freezer bags, and freeze. On cooking day, remove the desired number of patties to a platter. By the time the grill is heated, the burgers will be thawed enough to grill.
Meatballs: Make up meatball mixture using your favorite recipe. Form meatballs using an ice-cream scoop; place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Place sheet with meatballs in freezer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer frozen meatballs to labeled freezer bags, and freeze. On cooking day, brown meatballs, add sauce or gravy, and enjoy over rice or pasta.
Ground meat base: Cook 5 pounds ground beef in a large Dutch oven with 1 cup water, stirring occasionally until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in 2 onions, chopped, and 6 garlic cloves, minced. Cook until onions are tender, about 3 minutes. Cool and pack into 5 (1-quart) labeled freezer bags. Lay sealed bags flat in a pan with sides (this helps them keep their shape), and freeze for several hours. Remove frozen bags from pan, and return bags to freezer. On cooking day, heat the base, and add other needed ingredients to create tacos, sloppy joes, or beef stroganoff in 10 to 15 minutes.
http://www.southernliving.com/food/whats-for-supper/easy-freezer-meals-00400000009133/


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chicken Lazone

I made this recipe last night for dinner, it was a hit!  Hubby and I both enjoyed this dish, it tastes a lot like the pasta you can get at Red Lobster.  I might have even had seconds!  The only thing I might add is a little Cajun seasoning I think that would put it over the top!  Very creamy!

1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 lbs chicken tenders
1/4 cup butter (divided)
2 cups heavy cream

Combine first five ingredients in a small bowl.
Sprinkle over both sides of chicken.
In a large pan melt half of the butter over med-high heat.
Cook chicken tenders till done (about 8 minutes depending on size).
Pour cream and remaining butter into skillet.
Lower heat and simmer till sauce thickens about 5-7 minutes.

I served mine over pasta!  This recipe was found on pinterest originally and the cook sure knows what he or she is doing in the kitchen.  :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yummy Broccoli

I made this tonight for the first time one of my kids asked for thirds and daddy had two big helpings.

1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 small bag of broccoli
1/4 tsp of garlic
1/2 cup parmesean cheese

Pour chicken broth, broccoli, and garlic in pot.
Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer. 
Let it simmer until broccoli is tender.
Drain.
Top with parmesan.


Raegan Mirick's photo.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Menu May 27 to June 2

Monday
B- Cereal
L- Leftovers
D- Pizza

Tuesday
B- Chick Fil A
L- Popcorn Chicken
D- Lasagna Roll Ups, French Bread, Caprese Salad  and Green Beans

Wednesday
B- Cereal and Strawberries
L- Brisket and Chips
D- Chicken Lazone (New Recipe) Seasoned Broccoli (New Recipe) and Linguini

Thursday
B- Pancakes and Glazed Bacon
L- Corn Dogs and Fruit
D- Potato Chowder

Friday
B- Cereal
L-
D-

Saturday
B- French Toast
L- LosPinos (Visit with hubby's aunt )
D- We forgot to eat... ( Dance Recital)

Sunday
B- Cinnamon Bread
L- Cowboy Chicken... (we had gift cards)
D- Leftovers

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Neely's version of Kansas Style Pork Ribs

When I decided I wanted to make ribs I knew instantly to turn to the Neely's after all they are the king and queen of bbq.  I will say I just did the dry rub, I didn't have time to make the sauce.  The dry rub smells absolutely heavenly!  Yesterday we had a Memorial Day party and since I had so much food on the grill I decided to make these in the oven along with my brisket, the smells coming from my kitchen were enough to make you drool.  Everyone absolutely LOVED the ribs (and the brisket) and said they were amazing (since I don't eat pork you have to trust my friends).

Since I first typed this recipe I have made these several times and every time I do my dad requests that he be invited over for dinner.  I have made this with beef ribs also however hubby likes pork better, he says there is more meat and that the beef has too much bone.  Since I don't like pork I put the dry rub on some chicken and enjoyed mine that way, and I must say that it is wonderful, my taste buds danced!
2 slabs pork spare ribs, 3 pounds each
Kansas City Barbeque Sauce, recipe follows
 
Dry Rub:
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup dry mustard (Didn't use this)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Remove the thin white membrane off of the bone-side of the ribs.
Mix together the brown sugar, dry mustard, cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Massage the rub into the ribs and let sit for 1 hour or up to overnight.
If cooking on the grill, place the ribs meat-side down next to medium-hot coals that are about 225 degrees F.
The indirect heat will cook them slower, making them tender.
Allow to cook for 1 hour.
Turn ribs every half hour and baste with the Kansas City Barbeque Sauce.
Cook until the ribs are tender, about 3 to 4 hours.
If cooking indoors, place in a roasting pan with a rack.
Slather the ribs with the Kansas City Barbeque Sauce and tent a piece of aluminum foil over them.
In a preheated 350 degrees F. oven, place the ribs, basting with the sauce every 30 minutes and removing the foil for the last 30 minutes and cooking until fork tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

*I did mine on 275 for four hours.

Kansas City Barbeque Sauce:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (about 2/3 cup) small onion finely diced
3 cups water
1 cup (2 (6-ounce) cans) tomato paste
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small sauce pot on medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the onion, cooking until translucent.
Add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix together.
Add to sauce pan and let simmer for 30 to 45 minutes.
Use to baste the pork spare ribs.

Yield: 3 cups
 
Yummy ribs!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Honey Butter

This tastes a lot like the kind you can get at Texas Roadhouse.
                       
1/2 cup butter, softened                                                     

Golden Crescent Rolls

I came upon this recipe today while browsing allrecipes.com.  I love that site it is one of my favorites!  I like to read the reviews and tips that other home cooks have (part of the reason I made this blog).  I prefer to stay away from things that are prepackaged or canned if possible I am on a quest to remove as many preservatives as I can.  With that being said these have to be better for you than the version you can buy at the store and they tasted good too.

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)                                                  
                 
1/2 cup white sugar                                                    
1 teaspoon salt
             

2 eggs                                                    
        
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter)                                                




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Menu 5-20 to 5-26

Monday
B- Cereal
L-TGIFridays  (Grammy to dr)
D-Little Ceasers Pizza (Difficult day)

Tuesday
B- Yogurt and Fruit
L- Popcorn Chicken and Mandarin Oranges
D- Lasagna Soup

Wednesday
B- Caramel Pecan Rolls
L- Papacitas (lunch with Mimi and Nanners)
D- Steak, Hasselback Potatoes, Peas, Crescent Rolls, Honey Butter

Thursday
B- Pancakes
L-
D- Mini Cheeseurger Puffs, Corn on the Cob, and Onion Rings

Friday
B- Kolaches
L-
D- Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole

Saturday
B- Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
L-
D- Cookout (We are providing brisket, chicken skewers, hamburgers, hotdogs, shrimp skewers, and sausage)

Sunday
B- Hashrown Casserole
L- Baked Beef Empanadas, Rice and Corn
D- Leftovers

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Today was a very stressful day I had a lot going on, one of the things that helps me clear my head is baking.  I found this recipe this morning (before things got crazy) and decided that I should give it a try.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet (mine was 60%) chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate/dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • peanut butter cookie filling
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  •  

    1. In a large bowl, melt butter, bittersweet chocolate and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Set aside and let cool completely.
    2. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
    3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, add sugar and eggs, beating on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    4. Add in vanilla extract and melted chocolate/butter, beating for another 1-2 minutes until combined.
    5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the whisk or beater attachment, then remove it and stir in the dry ingredients with a large spatula until thoroughly dispersed.
    6. Fold in remaining chocolate chips.
    7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you make the peanut butter cookies. Let the dough sit in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
    8. Place peanut butter and sugar into a medium bowl, mix to combine, then add egg, mixing until well combined. Set aside.
    9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place parchment paper (or a silpat) on an ungreased baking sheet.
    10. Remove the truffle dough from the freezer.
    11. Grease your hands with a little canola oil (cooking spray works really well, but water can also be used) then begin to scoop out about a teaspoon of dough placing them about 2 inches apart.
    12. Using your oiled (or wet hand) flatten the dough into a small round disk.
    13. Now take 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter dough and place it in the center of the flattened truffle dough.
    14. Scoop another teaspoon of the truffle dough and flatten into a disk.
    15. Place this over the peanut butter dough pinching the bottom layer of truffle dough together with the top.
    16. Repeat with remaining dough. Do this quickly and if you are doing the cookies in batches, refrigerate the dough in between rounds.
    17. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes on the baking sheet.
    18. Once totally cooled, if desired, you can drizzle the cookie in melted chocolate.
    While I am sure the original recipe is great I only had chunky peanut butter and didn't like the idea of using it in this recipe.  Instead I put a spoonful of Nutella in the middle.  ;)
     
    I also drizzled the tops of them with caramel sauce.
     
    The finishing product was delicious... it tastes a little like a brownie.  This was a great way to end a long day! 

    Thursday, May 16, 2013

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

    Hubby absolutely loves cookie cake so I decided to make him a special treat today.  (This isn't my cake... I can't get pics to load)

    Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake


    Makes one 8 or 9 inch cookie cake
    3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    3/4 cup dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 egg
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups all purpose flour
    2 tsp cornstarch
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips OR about 1 cup of chocolate chunks

    1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.
    2. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
    3. With the mixer on low speed, add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
    4. Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.
    5. Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
    6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    7. Place parchment paper into the bottom of your cake pan to help the cookie not stick.
    8. Spread the dough out into the cake pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.
    9. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup shortening
    4 cups powdered sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2-3 tbsp water (I use milk)

    1. Beat the shortening and butter until smooth.
    2. Slowly add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until combined.
    3. Mix in the vanilla extract and 1 tbsp water.
    4. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add more water to get the right consistency.

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    A Few Tips

    I haven't tried any new recipes today so I thought I would share a few tips with you that make working in the kitchen easier and more enjoyable. 

    When measuring out butter, honey, or anything sticky spray non stick spray in the measuring cup first.  It will come out much easier.

    When juicing a fresh lemon microwave for a few seconds or roll in the palm of your hand this warms it and helps the juice to flow.  ;)

    Prep as much as you can before hand.

    When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold it just below the oil's surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food.

    When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around.

    Invest in parchment paper for lining pans. It makes all of your baked goods super easy to remove, and it makes cleanup a dream (no butter-flour mixture or errant batter to scrape off).  I use the kind that is foil on one side and parchment paper on the other side.

    Don't overcrowd your food while cooking.

    When you grill, pull your steaks out of the refrigerator one hour ahead of time so they can come to room temperature.

    Always soak wooden skewers at least 30 minutes before grilling.

    Clean as you go!

    Shoes off, music on, favorite beverage in hand — enjoy your time in the kitchen.

    Tuesday, May 14, 2013

    Balsamic Roast Chicken

    I tried a new recipe out tonight and my oldest loved it!  He had his helping and then asked for more.  Hubby also liked this chicken a lot.

    1 roasting chicken (6 to 7 pounds) (I used chicken breasts) 
    2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed
    3 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pepper
    2 medium red onions, chopped
    1/2 cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
     

    1. Pat chicken dry.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper; rub under skin of chicken.
    3. Place onions in a shallow roasting pan; top with chicken.
    4. Combine wine and balsamic vinegar; pour over chicken.
    5. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 2-1/4 to 2-3/4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180°, basting occasionally with pan juices. (Cover loosely with foil if chicken browns too quickly.
    6. Let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
    7. Remove and discard skin before serving.
    8. Pour onion sauce into a small bowl; skim fat.
    9. Serve with chicken. Yield: 12 servings (1-1/2 cups onion sauce).

    Menu for 5-13 to 5-19

    Will finish up this afternoon.  ;)

    Monday
    B- Cereal
    L- Pizza hut with Grammy
    D- Sandwich

    Tuesday
    B- MOPS Yogurt and Fruit
    L- Chicken Strips and Pretzels
    D- Roast Chicken, Cornbread Dressing, Macaroni and Cheese, Greenbeans

    Wednesday
    B- Cereal
    L- Mini Pizzas
    D- Tacos, Corn and Beans

    Thursday
    B- Chocolate Chip Pancakes
    L- Picnic With Friends
    D- Chicken Diane, Twice Baked Potatoes, and leftover Corn

    Friday
    B- Cereal
    L-
    D-

    Saturday
    B- Ham and Eggs
    L-
    D-

    Sunday
    B- Muffins
    L-
    D-

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Strawberry Jam

    A few weeks ago my daughter, some friends, and I went and picked strawberries at our local berry farm.  We picked four pounds and I only payed $4, so awesome!!!  I froze the berries because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them.  Today I decided to try my hand at making homemade jam a process which has always kind of scared me.  So I went in search of a recipe with no pectin (I didn't feel like going to the store).  I found this recipe and halved it and hubby, kids, and neighbors have been enjoying it.  Trust me it wasn't nearly as intimidating to make as I had pictured in my mind.  :)

    5 C. crushed strawberries*
    4 1/2 C. granular sugar
    1/3 C. fresh squeezed lemon juice
    1 vanilla bean, scraped (I used a teaspoon of vanilla extract)

    Gently wash berries, cut off the tops, and place in a large bowl to mash up with a potato masher or large fork. ( I used my hands)
    Measure out berries into a very large heavy pot to confirm you have five cups.  (This is after you mash them)
    Use a very large pot because the jam will expand while boiling. 
    Add the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla bean scrapings.
    Place three small plates in the freezer.
    Stir mixture and set over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. 
    Increase the heat to high and stay with the pot because the jam will begin to intensely boil. 
    Stir regularly to keep the bottom from burning. 
    Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until you notice some resistance when stirring.
    Place a small amount of jam on one of the cold plates and place back in the freezer for a minute. 
    Run your finger through the middle of the dab of jam. 
    If it doesn’t run back together, the jam is ready. 
    If it does run back together, continue to boil the jam for another minute or two and try testing it again.

    *This is for canning

    Transfer jam to hot sterile jars (simmer jars in a large pot of water while making the jam), leaving a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar. 
    Seal with sterile lids and turn upside down on a dish towel to cool.
    When jars are completely cool, test the lids.
    If they spring back when pressed, they have not sealed; store those jars in the fridge. 
    Jars with taut lids are sealed and can be stored in the cupboard until opened.

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Parmesan Chicken (My way)

    This is one of hubby's most favorite dishes I make and I do have to agree it is REALLY tasty.  Keep in mind I am typing this from my memory... I never use a recipe.

    4-6 Chicken Breast
    Italian Bread Crumbs
    Egg
    Garlic Powder
    Onion Powder
    Tomato Sauce 2 8 oz cans
    Parmesean
    Cheddar

    The first thing you do is beat the egg for dredging your chicken.
    You dredge your chicken in the egg and then the bread crumbs.
    I tend to let my chicken sit for a few minutes I feel like it gives the bread crumbs a little more time to adhere to the chicken. 
    Fry your chicken till cooked completely through.
    While chicken is frying pour one can of tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish you will be using.
    After chicken is done place on top of the tomato sauce.
    Now you will want to top with the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with a little bit of extra bread crumbs, garlic and onion powder (I don't measure).
    Then top with Parmesean and Cheddar cheese.
    Bake at 350 till cheese is bubbly.

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    French Bread

    There are a few tips at the bottom so make sure that you read those before you get started!
     
    1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
    2 teaspoons sugar                                    
    1 teaspoon salt                                                                     
    3 1/2 cups bread flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 tablespoon cornmeal                                                                                                         
    Glaze
    1 egg
    1 tablespoon water
    2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted (I don't use these)
     
    In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed).
    When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.
    Divide in half.
    Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle.
    Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.
    Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan.
    Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.
    Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves.
    With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf.
    Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.
    Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
    Cool on wire racks.

     
    I also tend to splash a tiny bit of water in the bottom of my oven and on the sides it makes the bread crispier.  ;)
     
    Also after I bake these I like to slice them in half lengthwise slather on some butter, garlic powder, and onion powder, and occasionally parmesean cheese.  SOOOO yummy.

    Monday, May 6, 2013

    Menu for 5-6 to 5-12

    After the weekend we spent in Savannah eating at pricey but amazing places I need to REALLY stick with my menu this week. 

    Monday
    B- Cereal
    L- Out with Grammy
    D- Parmesean Chicken, French Bread, Green Beans with Potatoes

    Tuesday
    B- Pancakes and Bacon
    L- Popcorn Chicken and Fresh Strawberries
    D-  Beef Yakatori, Rice and Peas

    Wednesday
    B- Yogurt and Fruit
    L- Daniel Boone's (Grammy to dr)
    D- Cheeseburger Soup

    Thursday
    B- Muffins
    L- Zoo
    D- Simple Roast Chicken with Herbed Butter and A Quick Pan Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, and Carrots


    Friday
    B- Caramel Pecan Rolls
    L-  Cheese Quesadillas
    D- Spaghetti and Meatballs with French Bread

    Saturday
    B- Breakfast Pizza
    L- Tacos, Rice and Beans
    D- Steak, Baked Potatoes, Fried Okra

    Sunday
    B- Chocolate Chip Croissants
    L- Italian Roast, Broccoli and Cornbread
    D- Leftovers

    Sunday, May 5, 2013

    I am still here!

    Hubby and I got back today from a weekend ALONE in our favorite city Savannah!  It was a great trip, we ate some wonderful food.  It seems as if our trips are planned mainly around places we like to eat.  ;)  We tried a couple of new places in Savannah and went back to a couple that we love.  Our hotel was great because we were able to park the car and walk to most of the places we visited.

    Our first stop was The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant.  We have never been there and not had a great meal...  We tend to always get the same things though.  Hubby loves the Chicken Pot Pie and I LOVE the Steak with the Red Wine Glaze and the Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  Every bite is delicious.

    A new choice for us was Robert Irvine's new place NOSH.  It is in Hilton Head, a short distance from Savannah.  Phillip and I both got burgers, half way through eating he looked at me and said "Baby these even beat your burgers."  They were to die for!!!  This was literally the best burger I have ever had in my life.  It was plump and juicy and moist.  Everything you want in a burger was on that plate in front of me!

    We also went to Leopold's this was a first for us.  It is an ice cream shop that has been around for years.  We both loved our cones I had Chocolate Chocolate Chip and hubby had Coffee.  We went walking around the city while we snacked the only problem was this ice cream seemed to melt faster than other ice creams... it was WAY better though than your typical Blue Bell.

    After a few suggestions from the locals we hit up the Pirate's House CafĂ© it is in one of the oldest buildings in Savannah.  I think it was 1730?  The food was ok but the rolls were AMAZING.  The sight of them made my mouth water.

    Lastly before heading out we went to Uncle Bubbas (owned by Paula and her brother).  This is one of my Savannah favorites we have been many times.  The food is always good, if you ever go you must have the Chocolate Pecan Pie.

    I had  a great time with my wonderful husband this past week... I will get back in the groove of blogging this week.  I promise!  Look for this week's menu coming up tomorrow!

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