Saturday, November 10, 2012

spiced turkey brine

To Brine or Not to Brine.... I say BRINE!! You will never have a more flavorful and juicy bird if you brine your bird in this amazing spa bath :)

What you need to brine a 16 to 20-pound turkey!!

2 cups citrus infused coarse sea salt by salt works
6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 whole bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sprigs fresh sage
4 sprigs fresh thyme
8 whole star anise pods
3 tablespoons whole black, red & white peppercorns
1 tablespoon allspice berries
3 whole cinnamon sticks
3 medium navel oranges cut into wedges (with rind)
2 large lemons cut into wedges (with rind)
2 medium sweet yellow onions cut into wedges with skin

In a large 12+-quart stock pot, bring 12 cups water, salt, garlic, herbs and spices to a boil. Stir occasionally to dissolve salt. Remove from heat and add oranges, lemons (make sure your squeeze them) and onions and then let cool. Add turkey to pot once completely cooled and add enough cool to completely cover turkey. Keep in refrigerator for 24 hours. Prepare your turkey for roasting 2 hours before you intend to roast it... remove it from brining solution (DON NOT RINSE) discard brine, pat the bird thoroughly dry with paper towels completely inside and out. You are ready to roast the Best tasting bird you have ever  had… Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

perfect german pancake

This is one of our families favorite things to have for breakfast or dinner ;) It's a snap to make and so light and airy.  It's also great to add your favorite berries, crumbled bacon or sausage before baking!!

7 eggs
1 cup half & half
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 tsp salted sweet cram butter melted

Pre-heat oven to 450. In medium bowl whisk eggs and add in half & half.  Stir together flour and salt and add to egg mixture and whisk until combined.  In 9 x 13 pan coat with Pam and add melted butter to bottom of pan. Pour egg mixture in pan and bake at 450 for 15 - 20 minutes until puffed and golden brown on the edges.  Turn heat down to 350 and bake another 15 minutes. Serve with real maple syrup, buttermilk syrup or berries & cream!! Enjoy!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

watermelon "salsa"

this is a perfect yummy quick salsa for a hot summer's day!!

3 cups ripe seedless watermelon finely cubed
1 green pepper chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
2 medium jalapeno pepper's chopped
1 cup sweet onion chopped
1 bunch minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
salt to taste
Tabasco hot sauce to taste

Mix the above together, add salt and Tabasco to your taste and heat preference.  Cover and let salsa rest in refrigerator for  1 hour to macerate. You can serve it with fish, grilled chicken or just with tortilla chips. Enjoy!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

renee's easy sausage crockpot lasagna

 This perfect easy & yummy Lasagna will warm your heart and fill your tummy!!

1/2 LB ground beef
1/2 LB Italian Sweet Sausage
1/2 C diced white onion
1 TSP fresh minced garlic
 jar of your FAVORITE spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
1 15 OZ container ricotta cheese
1/2 C Heavy Cream
2 C mozzarella cheese
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 LG whole egg
2 TBS fresh chopped Italian parsley
12 uncooked lasagna noodles

In a large skillet brown beef, sausage and onion. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Drain. Add spaghetti sauce and water and simmer for about 5 minutes. Mix ricotta, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan, cream, egg and parsley. Pour 1 cup of spaghetti meat sauce into a 4 to 6 quart sized slow cooker. Place half of the noodles and half of the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with remaining noodles (If the noodles don't fit exactly break them to fit) and cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until noodles are soft. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Cover with the lid to melt the cheese and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving. Do not overcook and don't try to speed up the process by cooking it on high. Serve with my Parmesan Garlic Bread!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

spiced carrot cake

One of my favorite cakes of all time and a must have for Easter!!

6 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons all spice
1 cup chopped walnuts optional

In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, all spice and cinnamon... stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!!

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

creme egg cupcakes

Easter means one thing at our house... Cadberry Creme Egg Cupcakes!!  You will love these and they are so yummy you won't be able to eat just one!!  Happy Easter!!

24 paper cupcake liners
Batter for 24 cupcakes. I used Betty Crocker’s milk chocolate box mix. You can also use your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe.
24 regular size Cadberry Creme Eggs, FROZEN
**Freezing the 24 eggs keeps them from completely vanishing inside the baked cake.
1 batch of heavenly vanilla butter icing
yellow gel food coloring

Scoop batter into paper liner 2/8 of the way full. Place one frozen Mini Cadbury Creme Egg into the middle of each cupcake. Use a spatula to spread the batter over the egg. Bake according to the recipe you are using. Allow cupcakes to cool completely. While your cupcakes are cooking, make your icing. Remove about 1 cup of vanilla butter icing from the mixing bowl and dye it light yellow.  Frost half your cupcakes with the yellow icing and the other half with the white. Enjoy!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

heavenly vanilla butter icing

This is the best and last "buttercream" frosting you will ever use!!  It is creamy and so light that it will compliment any cake, cookie, cupcake or any yummy creation from your oven!!

1 cup (2 sticks) salted sweet cream butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure Mexican vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk, cream and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition roughly 2 minutes, until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency... You may not need to add all of the sugar. If you want colored icing, add a few drops of gel coloring and mix thoroughly. Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled. Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes enough for one 2-layer 9-inch cake or 2 dozen cupcakes*

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

strawberry peach banana smoothie

Who else loves smoothies? I love making smoothies, and it is my boys favorite breakfast. I just throw some fruit (whatever is in season), yogurt ice cubes, and some juice into my blender and in seconds I have a delicious healthy treat!

I've started buying the big containers of yogurt (I like vanilla) and freezing it in ice cube trays! I just spoon the yogurt in, freeze, and pop them out and store them in a freezer baggies and when I am ready to make a smoothie... Vuala! It is much more inexpensive than buying the frozen smoothie packages at the store and you can stop throwing away yogurt because it's expiring and freeze it!!

Strawberry Peach Banana Smoothie
1 banana, broken into chunks
handful of fresh strawberries
1 peach, cubed
4 yogurt cubes
1/4 c strawberry, orange, mango juice

Put everything into blender and blend until smooth and serve. You might want to add more or less juice depending on how thick you like your smoothie!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

ooey gooey caramel popcorn

I love popcorn and what makes it better... caramel!! I like mine really sticky and gooey, the kind you have to lick off your fingers!! If you like yours a little firmer just boil your caramel longer :)

1 cube sweet cream salted butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 bag (1 lb) dark brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add corn syrup and brown sugar. Bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling mix in sweetened condensed milk. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until mixture almost reaches a soft ball stage... I like mine a little softer so I cook it until it's about 220 degrees. Pour over one large bowl popped popcorn. I use 2 bags microwave popped popcorn and make sure to takeout all the unpopped kernels. Use more or less popcorn depending on how much caramel you like on your popcorn. ENJOY!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

edible chocolate play dough

I got this recipe from my sisiter and made it for my boys, it is so fun!!

This is a fantastic recipe especially if you have a toddler and can't keep things out of your child's mouth, at some point it may be a good idea to teach them to not put everything in there! This smells wonderful but does not taste good.

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1 cup water

Mix dry ingredients in a medium size pot. Add wet ingredients and stir together over low heat until a ball of dough forms. Remove play dough from pot and knead by hand until dough is smooth and evenly colored. Store in airtight container.

disposing bacon grease

I love to cook with bacon but I always struggled with how to get rid of the leftover grease.  I came up with idea and it was as easy as 123!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

creamy asparagus soup

I LOVE soup and this is one of my favorites!! It is wonderful by it self  or will compliment any meal. It is creamy, fresh and warms the soul... Enjoy!!

1/4 cup salted sweet cream butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
1 cup good chicken broth
4 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
1 yellow potato, peeled and diced small
1 pound fresh pencil asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup real cream
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Melt butter in a heavy cooking pot. Add onions and chopped celery; saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour, mixing well. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Watch it carefully as it will burn and go lumpy. Add water, chicken broth, and chicken soup base; stir until smooth. Bring to a boil. Add diced potatoes and chopped asparagus. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Puree soup in a food processor or blender in batches. Return to pot. Stir in cream, soy sauce, and black and white pepper. Bring soup just to boil. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot. ENJOY!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

spring asparagus season!!

Why Eat Asparagus???

It is high in vitamins B6 and C, plus fiber, folate and glutathione, an anti-carcinogen and antioxidant, asparagus is an excellent nutritional choice. It comes in three colors: white, green or purple, although the green variety is the most common. Long considered a luxury vegetable, often with a luxury price tag, fresh American-grown asparagus appears in stores in late February. But asparagus is at its best—and is usually cheapest—in April and May. And sure, while there’s frozen and canned asparagus, which can be enjoyed year round, nothing beats the delicate flavor of fresh asparagus.

Choosing and Storing Asparagus...

Asparagus spears can be thick or thin. Some people prefer one kind over another but size is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Thicker spears may have tougher, woodier ends, but these are broken off before cooking anyway. The key is to select straight, firm, uniformly sized spears with closed tips. Since asparagus deteriorates rapidly, it’s important to select bundles that are refrigerated or on ice. For the same reason, asparagus should be used within two or three days of purchase, preferably sooner. If you do need to keep it for a day or two, the best way is to place the spears upright in a bowl (or even a small vase) of cold water. Alternatively, you can wrap the ends of the spears in a damp paper towel and refrigerate them.

What to Do With Asparagus...

To prepare asparagus, you will need to rinse the spears and break off the tough ends. After that, how you cook asparagus is up to you.
Soem people enjoy their asparagus with nothing more than a drizzle of good-quality olive oil, but you can enjoy asparagus in many different dishes: in soups, salads, stir-fries, risottos, scrambled eggs, pasta, and many more dishes.

Asparagus and Scallops

This scallops with asparagus recipe is a very simple and elegant dish. It’s only has a few ingredients, and it’s fast and easy to prepare. Scallops and asparagus are a terrific combination and the white wine butter sauce really brings them together.

1 lb medium asparagus, trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces, tips left whole
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb large sea scallops, trimmed if necessary
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tbsp cold salted sweet cream butter, cut into cubes

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté asparagus, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate, reserving skillet off heat (do not clean). Pat scallops dry and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté the scallops, turning over once, until browned and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer scallops to another plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add wine and vinegar to skillet (mixture may spatter) and boil, scraping up any browned bits, until liquid is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add any accumulated scallop juices on plate and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and whisk in butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Plate scallops and asparagus, spoon sauce over and serve immediately. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

butter bell

I thought I would share a great addition to my kitchen... BUTTER BELL!! I don't know how I ever lived without it before *lol* it keeps my butter fresh and always spreadable, I LOVE it!!  It holds one stick (1/2 cup) of butter and it fresh and spreadable for weeks without refrigeration!!  I got mine locally at Spoons and Spice but you can order them on-line at The Butter Bell Store!! They come in soooooo many different colors and styles that you are sure to find one for your decor.

How It Works...
I hope you will love it as much as I do!!

italian cheese stuffed shells

Pasta shells stuffed with creamy Italian cheeses and  then baked is one of my boys FAVORITE dishes. It also makes a great pot-luck dish or a wonderful dish to take to a friend.  You will love it!!

8 ounces large pasta shells, uncooked
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 ounces marscarpone
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
32 ounces favorite pasta sauce

Cook shells for 9 minutes; drain. Cool in single layer on wax paper to prevent shells from sticking together. Cover bottom of 9x13 baking dish with 1/4 cup of sauce. Combine cheeses, parsley, salt and pepper for filling; spoon into shells and arrange in single layer in dish. Cover shells with remaining sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 F. for about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake 15 minutes longer. 6 to 8 servings. Serve with parmesan garlic buttered bread!! Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

anise caramels

Simply the BEST licorice caramels ever!! They are great for gift giving because they are divine and your recipients will thank you over and over!! Make sure to make a batch to keep home for you to enjoy too!!
1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure anise oil
black paste food coloring (optional) I use red and green at Christmas!!

Line a 13x9 inch dish with buttered foil or you can sray it with PAM. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar, condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to heat, without stirring, to 242 to 248 degrees F (116 to 120 degrees C), or until a small amount of syrup dropped into cold water forms a firm but pliable ball. Remove from heat and stir in anise and food coloring. Pour into prepared pan. Let cool completely for several hours. To cut, turn out of pan and peel away foil. Cut with a buttered knife. Wrap pieces in waxed paper and ENJOY!!  Store in sealable container until gone *LOL*

Sunday, February 5, 2012

use vinegar for spotted dishes

Over the last few months, nearly everyone with a dishwasher has noticed that their dishes and glassware have been coming out more spotted and cloudy than before. The cause for this problem was recently discovered. On July 1st, 2010, all dishwasher detergent manufacturers voluntarily eliminated phosphates from their products in response to 16 states in the United States banning phosphates from dishwasher detergents. Phosphates helped the cleaning process but were banned due to their negative effect on the environment. One of the ways the phosphates helped was to eliminate or reduce lime scale inside a dishwasher in hard water areas.

What is hard water? Hard water refers to the natural mineral content in water, comprised mostly of calcium, with some iron and manganese. Hardness is commonly measured in grains per gallon (gpg). Most detergent manufacturers say that any water with hardness greater than 10.5 gpg is considered very hard. In the City of Fort Scott our water has an average hardness of 12 gpg. Under typical conditions, the majority of these minerals will stay in solution. However, in the high heat of a dishwasher, boiling pot, coffee pot, etc. the minerals tend to come out of solution and deposit onto surfaces. The minerals are simply left behind as the water is evaporated. This is commonly called lime scale or hard water scale. This inconvenience is now more pronounced on our dishes because of the elimination of phosphates in the dishwasher detergents. The phosphates helps keep the minerals ‘bound up,’ or in solution, so that they are not easily deposited on dishes.

What can be done to help prevent this from occurring? It's easy and cheap... add 1 cup of Distilled White Vinegar to your rinse cycle and turn off the heat cycle of your dishwasher!!