Friday, September 26, 2008

Adopt A Blogger

Kristen over at dine and dish is hosting an Adopt a Blogger event. I feel lucky enough that I was able to catch it right before the event started. I have been paired up with a veteran blogger who is helping me to get this little ole food blog out in the cyber world.

My mentor is Megan from Megans Cookin. She has been great. Not only has she answered every question I have had, but she has really helped to get more traffic to my site. I totally appreciate her help. You should check out her site. She has some very interesting and yummy looking food. She just reciently posted a spectacular looking cake recipe that I am certainly going to try. It is called Mexican Brown Sugar Pound Cake. I love that she is so willing to try new and creative recipes with ingredients that are uncommon. It makes cooking for us foodies so much fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Granola Bars

I have seen lots of homemade granola bar recipes on lots of different sites. Some look way too hard and have too many specialty ingredients so it really wouldn't be saving me any money, but there are a few that look really promising. This is one of them. I got it from Safely Gathered In, a great website dedicated to food storage and preparedness. This recipe is great because it uses only food storage items.

What you will need:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups quick oats
2 1/2 cups rice krispys
Optional: chocolate chips, almonds, raisins

What you do:

Add brown sugar and Karo syrup to a heavy bottom pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture continues to boil even when stirred. Take off heat. Add peanut butter and vanilla until all melted in. Add oats and rice cereal. Stir until all coated evenly. Let cool before adding any optional add ins.

I added mini semi sweet chocolate chips and did it before it cooled enough so they melted. It still tasted delicious! This is a very economical and fast recipe. I don't see myself buying store bought granola bars again.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rotisserie Chicken

One of my new favorite things are rotisserie chickens from Sams Club. They are so convenient for weeknight cooking.

What I do is buy one and let it cool on the counter long enough for me to take all the meat off without burning my fingers.

I separate the meat into two Ziploc baggies. Half the chicken in each bag. Then during the week when I am making a quick meal the chicken is already cooked and mostly chopped. All I do is quickly defrost one baggie in the microwave and add it to any dish that calls for chicken. I love it because it not only saves me time but tastes great too! You also can't beat the price, $4.98 for 2 meals is great!

My Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My mom always made spaghetti sauce at home. I loved it! When I was little I wouldn't eat any other spaghetti but hers. We never used the jar kind. After Cody and I got married, he made me spaghetti for dinner one night. He used a recipe that he made for his mom one time when she was sick. It was so good and I was converted. It was actually easy for me to convert to this new recipe because my mom's didn't have any measurements and I could never make it as good as her. Now I get a sweet trip down memory lane every time I visit home. We used Cody's recipe for all of our spaghetti dinners after that first time he made dinner for me. Through the years I have adjusted and changed the recipe to fit my emerging cooking abilities. This is the recipe it has evolved into over time.

What you will need:

1/2 lb. hamburger
1/2 onion chopped
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 clove garlic pressed

What you will do:

Brown hamburger. Add stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Add seasonings. Saute onion in a small amount of olive oil in separate pan. When onions are tender add garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant. (don't over cook the garlic or it will become bitter) Add to sauce. Let simmer 5 to 10 minutes depending on how thick you like your sauce. The longer it simmers the thicker it will be.

I use this with spaghetti and have also used it for lasagna. It is a great versatile sauce.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Banana Bread

I got this recipe a long time ago from someone doing the 12 days of Christmas to us. They left some banana bread on the door step and it was the most wonderful moist banana bread I had ever had. We left a note on our door the next day asking for the recipe. It was given to us anonymously. I have only changed one thing. I add cinnamon.

What you will need:

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 large ripe bananas
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

What you do:

Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add eggs and vanilla. Mash bananas with a fork and add along with all other ingredients.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour if doing 2 large loafs, 40 minutes if doing 4 small loafs or 25 minutes if doing muffins. I always like to do the muffins or small loafs because I don't like the dark hard crust the bread gets when doing large loafs.

These were moist and delicious and I couldn't keep my kids away from them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blackberry Pie

I love pies. I think I learned to love them so much because of my grandpa. I can remember that he always had pie for his birthday instead of cake. One time, we were all over at his house celebrating his birthday and my grandma was serving pie. She set a piece down between me and my grandpa and I started eating away. After I was about half way done with the piece, my grandma tried to hand me my piece of pie... I had accidentally taken the slice that was meant for my grandpa. I was so embarrassed. But I think it was the start of a beautiful love affair I have with pies.

Since I have been married, I have always tried to find great little pie shops so I can indulge my cravings every now and then. Since we have lived in Indiana, I have not been able to find a great pie shop. So after many months of not having great pies to eat, I decided that it was high time I learned how to make my own pies.

This past week I have been making pies like crazy. The first pie I made was a lemon meringue pie. Of course I would try to tackle one of the harder pies first. Needless to say, it didn't come out as wonderfully as my second pie attempt. Watch for a post on my lemon meringue fiascoes later on. The second pie I made was blackberry pie. I was able to get some perfectly sweet blackberries at the farmers market and I knew I wanted to try to make a pie with them. I had once long ago made a blackberry pie because I was assigned a pie for a potluck I was invited to. The flavor of it was good, but it was extremely runny. I didn't attempt a berry pie again until now. That was about 10 years ago!

When I made this pie I decided to use the same recipe I used 10 years ago, but I added some extra corn starch to help thicken it up. Here is the recipe for a 9" deep dish pie.

What you will need:

1 recipe for pie crust (recipe to follow)

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups blackberries
2 tlbs. cornstarch

What you do:

Make crust according to directions below. Put one crust in the bottom of a deep dish pie plate. Combine the sugar, flour, salt and cornstarch. Pour over blackberries. Toss gently to coat. Place remaining crust over top cutting slits to vent. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes with foil covering the outer crust to prevent it from getting to dark. Remove foil and cook another 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

I sliced into the pie before it was all the way cool and found that the sauce was slightly runny still, but not nearly as runny as the first time I made it. Once all the way cool, the sauce wasn't runny at all.

Pie Crust (Double Crust Recipe)

I just used the recipe found in my better homes and gardens cookbook. I know that there are fabulous pie crust recipes out there. I am sure that once I get the hang of making pie crust I will want to venture out and try all sorts of new amazing crust recipes. Until then, this one was pretty darn good.

What you will need:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup shortening

6 to 7 tablespoons ice water

What you do:

Measure the shortening and then place it in the freezer to firm up as much as possible. Stir together the flour and salt with a whisk. Add the cold shortening to the flour using a pastry blender until the shortening pieces are pea sized. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of ice cold water over the mixture and toss with a fork. Move the moistened dough over to the side of the bowl. Repeat with more water until all the dough is moist. Try to use as little water as possible. You only want enough to just keep the dough to stick together in a ball. Don't let the dough get soggy.

Put the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for about 20 minutes to let the flour hydrate and to keep the shortening cold. Keeping all the ingredients as cold as possible is the secret to a light flaky crust.

After refrigeration, divide dough in half and roll out to a 12" circle. Place on bottom of pie plate by folding dough in half over rolling pin and laying it gently on pie plate. Be careful not to stretch the dough. Fill pie dish with filling. Roll out remaining dough, cut slits, place on top of pie filling. Tuck edges under and crimp to make a decorative edge. Bake according to pie directions.