Thursday, May 31, 2012

Beer Battered Fish

2 lbs of white fish-see note 
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon favorite seasonings (I used a fish seasoning that had garlic, red pepper and lemon flakes) 
1 12 oz bottle beer
salt and pepper

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour, corn starch, seasoning, salt and pepper. Slowly add the beer and whisk until smooth. The mix should look like thick pancake batter.

In a deep fryer heat the oil to 350 degrees**. Season the fish with salt and pepper, dip the fish strips into the batter and carefully place in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes on each side. If your basket has holes in it like mine might have to loosen the batter from underneath to get fish loose. Those are yummy tidbits to tide you over. ***if you don't have a deep fat fryer, you can heat about 2 inches of oil in a skillet to 350 degrees and fry them that way...about 3 minutes on each side.

I used Swai.  It is like catfish..a bottom feeder from Vietnam.  People have expressed concern about whether or not it is healthy but I have found many more people that have not had any problems with it.  I got a 2 pound bag for around $5 at Walmart. I am NOT a big fish fan.  If there is even a little bit of fishiness to it...I can't eat it.  This wasn't fishy at all but it was a different texture than I like. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either.  The beer batter was a recipe I found for fish tacos and I LOVED the taste of the batter. Next time I might have to splurge and buy Halibut. :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chicken Crockpot Casserole

After a couple of days of living on the broil setting and having to check my kids hourly for those beautiful grill marks on their backsides, yes, that's how hot it was! I am ready to cook in my kitchen!

I actually don't mind the sunshine. It is a change of pace for me.  I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where we had 2 seasons.  Rainy, dreary gray from November 1st  to July 4th (the Rainy Season). Then we'd have outbreaks of sunshine for July, August, Sept and usually October..usually only a few at a time peppered with rainy days.

Now that I live in the DC area.  I've had to get used to not only warm days, but HOT days...HOT days that stick to you like stink on a stink bug. (Something else that we didn't have in the Northwest)

So today I decided that it is a crockpot day.  Casserole without having to heat up the oven.  Genius, I say!  I found a GREAT recipe by Christy Jordan at Southern Plate.  She's my sister..she just doesn't know it. I LOVE her recipes! Please go to her web site to check out her delicious recipes!

 Here is the link to her fantastic recipe for Cheesy Chicken Crockpot Chicken that I will be making tonight.

First chicken in the bottom of the crockpot and cover with onion and some minced garlic (I didn't have a fresh one..haven't replenished my pantry this week).  I also sprinkled some Caribbean Jerk seasoning over the chicken too for a little kick.

Spoon over the cream of chicken soup.  I added some carrots.

Now I am "potting" it on low for 6 hours and am filling my house with delicious smells that will make my neighbors jealous! Before serving, I added 1 box of rice-a-roni, cooked according to the box.  

Dinner in a flash! Okay maybe not a flash but no muss, no fuss!! :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Most Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's a holiday weekend and the thing I love most to do...BAKE.  My kiddos love Chocolate Chip Cookies so when I find one that turns out so great.  I grab it and make it over and over again.
These turned out even better than I thought they would.  I actually made them yesterday evening and left the dough covered and in the fridge overnight.  The cookies after baked had a really nice coloring and almost sheen to them.  They are crunchy but soft and yummy.  You'll LOVE them!

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant french vanilla pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

  • Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. 
  • Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. 
  • Stir in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. 
  • Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wisdom from Julia's Kitchen

  • To make canned broth taste homemade - Simmer for 15-20 minutes with a handful of minced carrots, onions and celery.  You can also add a little dry white wine or dry white French vermouth.

  • How do I know if baking power is still okay to use?  Baking powder usually lasts about 6 months.  To test add a teaspoon into 1/2 cup hot water.  If it doesn't bubble up throw away.  Make sure to smooth out lumps before adding to recipe.

  • To clean a burn blackened pan (I know that hasn't ever happened to you!!!) Fill the pan with 2 Tablespoons baking soda per quart (4 cups) of water.  Simmer for 10 minutes, cover and let soak off heat for several hours or overnight.  The black residue should scrub off easily.

  • Figuring the timing between convection ovens and regular ovens.  Convection ovens are usually about 1/3 faster.  So if you roast something for 2 hours and 325 degrees.  It would probably take about 1 1/2 hours in a convection oven.

  • When is bread done?? The loaves should feel light and they should make a nice thump when taped. (an instant read thermometer reads 200).

  • When baking how do I proof the yeast?  Stir a tablespoon of active yeast in 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water and a pinch of sugar.  Yeast should be bubbly in about 5-10 minutes.

  • How do I saute?  
    • Make sure the food is dry.  If it is damp the meat will steam not brown.  Pat it dry with  paper towels.
    • Heat the pan.  Add butter or oil and wait until it is almost smoling.
    • Don't crowd the pan. Leave about a 1/4 inch between the pieces.  If you crowd them, they will steam, not brown.
    • Find a good solid frying pan. It shouldn't too big or too small.  It won't be fancy but functional every day pan.

Excerpts taken from the book "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom"  
How many minutes should you cook green beans? Is it better to steam them or to boil them?
What are the right proportions for a vinaigrette?
How do you skim off fat?
What is the perfect way to roast a chicken?

Julia Child gave us extensive answers to all these questions–and so many more–in the masterly books she published over the course of her career. But which one do you turn to for which solutions? Over the years Julia also developed some new approaches to old problems, using time-saving equipment and more readily available products. So where do you locate the latest findings?

All the answers are close to hand in this indispensable little volume: the delicious, comforting, essential compendium of Julia’s kitchen wisdom–a book you can’t do without

Friday, May 18, 2012

Focaccia Bread

Do you have any food favorites that you don't know how to say??? At our house...Focaccia Bread is F word bread because none of us know how to say it...but boy do we love the taste of it.

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water, warm but not hot
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella

Proof yeast by adding sugar to warm water to dissolve and sprinkle yeast on top.  Let sit 5-10 minutes until frothy (spongy looking)

In mixer or large mixing bowl add flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, seasoning, pepper, olive oil. Mix together.

Slowly pour in yeast mixture. Continue mixing until smooth.

I used my kitchenaid with dough hook knead for about 5 minutes.  It should be smooth, soft but not sticky. If you touch it, it shouldn't stick to your fingers.  You can knead by hand until it is the consistency you want.

Lightly oil a bowl and add dough and turn to coat the dough.  Cover with damp cloth and let sit for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450

Press dough into rectangle (about 1/2 in thick) on baking sheet with parchment paper, make sure to leave good indentations in the dough. 

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle on cheese.  
Add extra seasonings if you'd like. 

Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

Friday, May 11, 2012

homemade protein bars..super easy and YUMMY!

Based on a recipe from Frugal Follies

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup butter
1 heaping Tablespoon of protein powder (I used Shaklee's original protein powder)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup chocolate chips (I used peanut butter and semi-sweet)

Line an 8x8 baking pan with wax or parchment paper. lightly spray with cooking spray

In a medium saucepan, combine the peanut butter, honey, and butter.  Cook over medium-low heat until melted and well combined.  Remove from heat. Slowly add protein and mix well.  I just dumped it in to the mixture on the stove and it took me a little bit to get the lumps of powder mixed in.  Add the oats and mix until the oats are covered.  Allow to cool for 2 minutes, then add the chocolate pieces. (I let it cool a little less than that so the chocolate chips would melt a little)

Using a spatula, spread the mixture into the 8x8 pan.  Place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or until solid.  Remove from paper and cut into squares. 

Here is the protein powder I used. 

My husband's parents sell Shaklee. If you would like to get in contact with them on how to order. Please email me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Julia's Kitchen Wisdom

I'm on a Julia Child kick! I went to the library and checked out as many Julia Child books I could find.

The first on my list to go through is Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. From the very beginning the book is CHOCK-FULL of tidbits that every cook, foodie or hungry human can use!

Over the next few days, I'll be testing out some of the recipes...share some of the tips and blog about them. If you'd like to cook along, go to my Julia Child Amazon Store and get a copy for yourself!

Julia Child Amazon Store

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

So this month for the crazy cooking challenge...grilled cheese sandwiches!!!

     I married an Italian boy. He loves anything that has tomatoes, meat and carbs...preferably pasta! When I saw this sandwich from "Forkful of Comfort", I *knew* that this was the sandwich for my family.
     While shopping for the ingredients I found mini pepperoni that fit the bill perfectly for what I wanted to do.  We LOVE our pizza with pepperoni, bacon, cheese and onion.  So I got together all our favorite ingredients. I used shredded cheese but I think if I make it again I will use slices instead. When I put together the sandwich, I sprinkled on some Italian Seasoning to give it a little more kick.

Pizza Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices of bread
shredded cheese
crispy bacon bits
diced onion
pepperoni (mini or regular cut into pieces)
pizza sauce for dipping 

I used Honey Butter Bread from Nature's Own.  I would definitely try different kinds of bread when making it again but white bread is what my kiddos eat.

On the inside, I spread a little bit of butter and sprinkled on cheese on each side. Added mini pepperoni, onion, bacon to one side and flipped into a sandwich. 

I found that adding a thin layer of mayo instead of butter to the outside makes the bread cripsy and not soggy.

Brown on each side and serve with pizza sauce for dipping!

Want to be part of the Crazy Cooking Challenge?? Click the picture below.

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I love to cook. It is my passion.