Saturday, January 24, 2009

Short cuts in the kitchen

Most of you who know me, know that I love to cook and am always reading recipe books and changing them to make up new recipes. There are times when I am making something that its just easier to grab a bag of frozen chopped onions, peppers, and even prepared and crumbled bacon (Sam's sells a big bag for commercial use for about 10 dollars for a big bag of cooked, crumbled bacon in the refrigerator section).
I buy the bacon and immediately freeze it. It keeps it from going bad if I don't' use it all up within the time period the bag states (like that ever happens lol).
I also do this with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. It stays fresh and lasts a long time and you can use it directly out of the freezer, and pop back in the unused portion for later use. I also get precooked sausage links and can easily chop them up to use when I need cooked sausage. Yes, I cook from scratch, but there are days I am rushed and this makes life so much easier and keeps me out of the drive through lane.

When I keep these things on hand, I can easily throw together an egg omelete, or an egg casserole for a crowd, which is just frozen hashbrowns with scrambled eggs with cream or milk poured over them then sprinkled with bacon, and/or sausage, and if you wish, cheddar cheese, I omit the cheese. Salt and pepper and bake at 350 about an hour, give or take 10 min.

I can quickly make homemade pizza and thow these things on as toppings. (my artisan bread dough is always ready in the refrigerator. That is another blog post, check the back posts for more info). I don't have to spend a lot of time chopping things. 

These are some of my favorite kitchen staples and I always have them on hand. I plan to freeze some of my own green peppers this year, because I go through tons of these each month, and it would be nice to use my own, organic green peppers. I don't bother making my own bacon and freezing it, as its just easier to get it ready to use.


Coffee filters

Coffee filters ..who knew! And you can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for almost nothing.
1. Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in the microwave. Coffee filters make excellent covers. 2. Clean windows and mirrors. Coffee filters are lint-free so they'll leave windows sparkling.
3. Protect China. Separate your good dishes by putting a coffee filter between each dish.
4. Filter broken cork from wine. If you break the cork when opening a wine bottle, filter the wine through a coffee filter.
5. Protect a cast-iron skillet. Place a coffee filter in the skillet to absorb moisture and prevent rust.
6. Apply shoe polish. Ball up a lint-free coffee filter.
7. Recycle frying oil. After frying, strain oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
8 Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.
9. Hold tacos. Coffee filters make convenient wrappers for messy foods.
10. Stop the soil from leaking out of a plant pot. Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to prevent the soil from going through the drainage holes.
11. Prevent a Popsicle from dripping. Poke one or two holes as needed in a coffee filter.
12. Do you think we used expensive strips to wax eyebrows? Use strips of coffee filters.
13. Put a few in a plate and put your fried bacon, French fries, chicken fingers, etc on them. Soaks out all the grease.
14. Keep in the bathroom. They make great "razor nick fixers."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

using a canning jar with your blender

I got this in an email today. what a great idea

Tip: Blender and Mason Jar
Step 1: Remove the base from the regular blender container.
Step 2: Screw on the base to the mason jar. Make sure it is nice and tight.
Step 3: Invert the jar and place on the blender.
Step 4: Use as you would a food processor. Pulse or blend to desired degree.

use the link to see pics. I love my canning jars. I use them for everything.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Fish in Cartoccio

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I made fish in cartoccio again today. Its one of my favorite things to make, not only is it healthy, its fast, easy and very flavorful. And clean up is a breeze, since its cooked in parchment paper.

I fold a piece of parchment in half so you have a double triangle , or, if you have sheets, cut a heart shape, it works nicely. Put the fish (flounder in this case) on the center and veggies on top. I cut up the veggies nice and small, carrots, potatoes, onions, green pepper and broccoli. Any veggies will do. Whatever you like. Season it up, I use rosemary and garlic seasoning. Its my favorite to put on fish.

Then I fold up the sides very tightly, starting at the corner, fold over, fold a little more over and a little more as you work your way around the parchment so you have a pocket. Before you fold over the other end, pour in some wine (or water with lemon if you don't do booze). Then fold over the last corner and the wine (or liquid) will steam the fish and veggies as it cooks.
I cook it on 400 for about 15 min. Then tear in. What a great aroma, and great colors on the vegetables. The pictures do not do it justice.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My little cast iron skillet

I got a set of cast iron skillets years ago, and never used them. When I noticed they rusted in the cabinet, I got rid of them. I think I gave them to my mother in law? I recall her thinking I was totally nuts for not wanting them.

Well, about two years ago, I was making eggs and had the vision of my mother making eggs, she always made her eggs every morning in a cute little cast iron skillet. So I went online and found some American Made one's by lodge logic. I bought a small skillet and a larger square skillet with a cornbread cookbook.

They are really not hard to care for and the food cooks so nicely and tastes so good in them. I make my eggs every morning in a cast iron skillet. I wash it out, and put a tiny bit of grapeseed oil on it, and put it back on the burner for a few min on med and that's it. I leave it on the burner all of the time, because I use it every day. I like the large square on for making things like burgers and steaks on it. What a nice sear it gives.
They get better with age too. Sort of like the 10 baking stones I use every day that turned so dark brown after 15 years of use, I would be devastated to have to start with new ones.
An added bonus of the cast iron skillets is, that it adds iron to your food when you cook on it. That is something I need, as I tend to fall on the anemic side at times.
Funny thing, people buy those kitchen gadgets that make eggs and omelets, and still have to wash something, what is wrong with that something you have to wash being a skillet?
I would like to acquire some more cast iron now...maybe a dutch oven. We like to go camping.
I have gotten rid of all of my non stick pots and pans now and use only stainless steel and cast iron.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Creative Leftovers

I like to use leftovers as much as I can, but I know the kids aren't into having the same meal two or three days in a row. The other day, we had flounder with sweet potato fries. There were leftover sweet potato fries. I could have easily heated up my whole oven to re-heat them on a baking stone, and they would get the same texture as fresh, fried sweet potatoes but to save energy and to change it up a bit, I added a bit of butter to them, some cinnamon and sugar and nuked them in the microwave. Boy were they good. Not sure healthy, but healthier than french fries with regular potatoes.
Today we had home made personal pizzas. The boys had broccoli on theirs, among other things (mozz cheese, sauce, bacon, green peppers, mushrooms, parm cheese, oregano, garlic etc). The broccoli was leftover from dinner yesterday. Hubby had Pork on his, leftover from dinner yesterday, just shredded small...he also had more fixins on his too.
There are many ways to serve leftovers to make them more appealing to the family and not have to have the same meal the next day. Tomorrow we will have fish and chips for dinner. (Cod fish, and the chips will be sweet potato fries again, as I won't buy french fries). Then Tuesday we can have fish tacos for dinner because I will make more fish than we know what to do with. I have used leftovers to make twice baked potatoes and so many other goodies.


WHAT TO EAT the book

Marian Nestle has written a great book called What to Eat. It is probably one of the best Health Food information books I have ever read.
I love what it says about vitamins, and herbal supplements p. 466-477. The whole book is really amazing! She talks about what imitation crab meat really is..what it goes through to become that, also about why salmon is pink...its really a book everyone should read. I could go on and on about the great topics she covers, but you should just read it, buy it or get it at the may want to buy it, as I go back to it often.
If you want to see the book go to Its her blog.

I like to read and when I find something good, I like to blab about it.