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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Karen's Pork Taco's

Karen's Pork Taco's are my families fav! It's "made easy".

Use your left over chicken or pork. The other night I made a pork steak. Bone in with some marble (fat) which has a ton of flavor. The package came two per pack and I forgot and stuck both in the freezer with out separating them. Sooo needless to say I had an extra one..... well kind of... we all ate more than usual that night.


Ingredients:
  • Left overs (pork or chicken) I had about 1/2 pound. Fork shredded or chopped
  • 10 Taco Shells (we like the one with the flat bottoms so they stand up)
  • 1 can diced tomato's
  • 1 whole green onion - chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • Taco Seasoning

Toppings:

  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Shredded Romaine Lettuce
  • Diced Tomato's
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole

Cook your rice.

Toast taco shells in 375' oven for 7 minutes.

Shred or chop pork or chicken. In saucepan add meat, one can of diced tomato's and taco seasoning. Simmer until tomato's are cooked. Add green onion. Stir.

Add rice to meat and tomato mixture. Mix together. Remove from heat.

Put a little cheddar cheese in the taco shell and fill with the meat and rice. Top with more cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomato's, salsa, sour cream and guacamole'.

Enjoy!

Eat Right To Avoid Bloating Before A Party!

By eating the right foods you can avoid bloating. I've actually tried this. It worked for me.

Keep away from gassy foods such as beans cabbage brussel sprouts, dried fruit, carbonated drinks, milk, cheese and sugar-free (yes! sugar-free) foods to prevent bloating.

You can eat healthy foods such as olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives and

"Chocolate"

the darker the better to help flatten your belly. Eat a lean chicken, fish or turkey with no breading, additives, marinades or sugary sauces. Just the basic herbs - fresh is better. And for goodness sake stay away from the "SALT!"

Quick Poached Pears With Amaretto Chocolate Sauce

If you are in need of a "easy" dessert that will knock your quests socks off try this made easy recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cans Pears in syrup
  • Amaretto
  • Vanilla Ice Cream (get the kind with real vanilla flecks)
  • Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

Drain pears into bowl. Pour pear syrup into saucepan. Heat to a simmer and reduce pear juice. Add two tablespoons Amaretto (or to taste some like more some less) cook a couple minutes long to burn off the alcohol. Stir.

When the pear juice has been reduced add a handful of the chocolate chips into sauce and melt.

Warm the pears in microwave or saucepan (or leave at room temperature) Distribute your pears into dessert dishes. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and then drizzle with the Amaretto chocolate sauce.

Enjoy!

Ten Things To Keep In Your Pantry!

Ten things to always have on hand in your pantry....Okay eleven!

  1. Course Salt
  2. Fresh Ground Pepper
  3. Good Olive Oil
  4. Vinegar (Red Wine, White Wine, Balsamic)
  5. Grains (example rice)
  6. Pasta (keep a variety)
  7. Capers
  8. Garlic
  9. Onions
  10. Chicken Broth
  11. Spice Rack (Italian Seasoning Blend I love!)

You can always whip something together quickly with these items on hand!

Healthy Lemon Roasted Potato Wedges

Make Healthy Roasted Potato Wedges instead of French Fries.

Ingredients:
  • Potato's (one large per person)
  • Olive Oil
  • Oregano
  • Salt (Optional Seasoning Salt)
  • Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

Heat oven to 400.

Wash and dry potato's. Cut into wedges.

Oil roasting pan.

Place wedges into large stainless or mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano (pour oregano about 1 teaspoon into the palm of your hand, crush in a circular motion with other hand over the mixing bowl to break up the oregano to release the oils to get the flavors going).

Squeeze juice from one lemon over potato's.

Toss all together to coat evenly. Pour into roasting pan. Place skin side down to prevent turning. If you don't you will have to turn potato's half way through cooking time. Sometimes they stick if you don't have a non-stick pan.

Cook for about 35 - 40 minutes until browned.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh Italian Parsley and serve.

Enjoy!

Tip Of The Day: Test Your Recipe!

Always test your new recipe on yourself or your family before your dinner party!

This lets your adjust your recipe to get the kinks out and gives you a chance to feel comfortable serving your guests :o)

Easy Roasted Potato's

Roasted Potatos with Rosemary and Olive Oil.

Use your favorite potato, I prefer red skin.

Wash and dry your potato. One large per person or three baby or small per person.

If using baby potato leave whole, if using large cut in half.

You can use a glass or metal pan. I prefer a high quality dark roasting pan. For my family of four a lasagna size pan works great. The potatos have plenty of room.

Heat oven to 400.

Oil pan with olive oil.

Toss in potato's, drizzle with olive oil, salt (I use sea salt), pepper, chopped Rosemary and two garlic cloves put through a garlic press.

Mix with your "clean hands" to make sure each potato is coated with the oil an spices.

Roast for about 45 minutes or until fork tender for whole potato's, about 30 - 45 minutes for cut potato's or baby. Check with a fork for tenderness.

You can be creative by adding other spices as well. Be brave!

Enjoy!

Tip Of The Day: Basting Chicken or Turkey

Basting your chicken or turkey is my favorite way to a beautiful roasted bird.

Here's how:

Use Butter! Add smashed cloves of fresh garlic and your favorite herbs like Rosemary. Chopped herbs and smash garlic, mix with the butter and use a basting brush to baste. This will not only nicely brown your bird but also make it taste yummy!

Enjoy!

Brining Roast Turkey or Chicken

Brine your turkey or chicken before roasting. When you use a brine your bird will stay tender and moist with tons of flavor. And it easy to do!

You will need a large stock pot or spaghetti pot. Room in your fridge or a cooler. If your brining a turkey you can use a plastic garbage bag and a cooler (and ice if using the cooler method).

Here are a list of ingredients you will need:

  • Orange Juice
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • liquid (water, broth, beer)

Spices: You can use what ever you prefer try a few or use them all!


  • Dried Parsley
  • Dried Oregano
  • Basil
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Sage
  • Dry Mustard or Mustard Seed
  • Rosemary
  • Bay Leave
  • Granulated Garlic (use Granulated instead of Garlic Salt)

Or you can use spice blends which are found at any supermarket. I prefer Italian Seasoning Blend, it has all my favorites all in one jar:


  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Marjoram
  • Onion
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Savory
  • Sage

In a pot on the stove add all your spices about a teaspoon of each if you are brining a Turkey, for a chicken 1/2 that amount.

Like I said I tend not to measure exact so you can eyeball it if you want.

One cup of Brown Sugar for a Turkey, 1/2 cup for a chicken.

1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cup of kosher salt for every gallon of liquid used. So for a chicken I would use 1/2 cup and a turkey I would use 1 1/2 cup salt.

Add two cups water, bring to a quick boil and turn off. This releases all the oils of the herbs and gets the flavors going! Also, it dissolves the sugar and salt.

Let cool or add ice to cool it down quickly.

Add your orange juice one cup for chicken two cups for Turkey.

Rinse your bird, place in your large pot or bag. Add the spice mixture with juice. Add water or broth enough to cover your bird. Make sure brine is mixed good. Turn the bird a few times to make sure all the spice mixture gets distributed.

Place in fridge or cooler with ice and let brine for 6 to 8 hours for a Turkey, 3 or so for a chicken. Less time for other meats. Shrimp for example only need 1/2 hour.

Remove from brine rinse and dry. Your ready to roast!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old Fashioned Cinnamon Toast

Serve this Cinnamon Toast kids love it and, it's made easy!

Ingredients:
  • White Sugar
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Butter
  • Slices of Bread
  • Small Storage Container

To make your Cinnamon Sugar - mix one cup of White Sugar with two teaspoons Cinnamon, put in small storage container.

Toast and Butter your slices of bread.

Using a teaspoon sprinkle the Cinnamon Sugar over the buttered toast. Let sit a couple seconds. Tap off excess Cinnamon Sugar back into your storage container. Cut Toast and serve while still warm. Yummm!

Warning - you won't be able to eat just one slice!

Enjoy!

Tomato and Broccoli Fishy Soup for the Kids:

Make this easy healthy soup in a snap. The kids love it and they get their vegetable serving too!

Ingredients:

  • One can Condensed Tomato Soup
  • Two handfuls frozen broccoli florets
  • Goldfish crackers

In saucepan empty one soup can of water and two handfuls of frozen broccoli florets. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium cover and cook broccoli florets until tender. Mash up the broccoli with your potato masher or fork. Add the Condensed Tomato Soup. Stir until mixed and the soup is hot. Serve with gold fish crackers.

Serves (2)

Enjoy!

Italian Cheeses

Here is a list of some great Italian cheeses:

Do you know any Italian Cheeses? If not you do now. Here is a short list of some common Italian Cheese you will enjoy. Stop by a gourmet supermarket and get some free samples so you can experience the flavors and then have your own wine and cheese party!

My top 11 list:


  1. Fresh Mozzarella
  2. Mascarpone
  3. Fontina Val d`Aosta
  4. Ricotta Salata
  5. Asiago
  6. Gorgonzola
  7. Frana Padano
  8. Pecorino Romano
  9. Provolone
  10. Parmigiano~Reggiano
  11. Taleggio

A favorite of mine that I use in cooking almost on a daily basis is Parmigiano~Reggiano. There is nothing like the taste of fresh graded Parmigiano. I occasionally do use the stuff in the green can. They have improved it over the last few years. It is a convenient stand by and makes your g much easier when you need to be quick. To make sure you get a "good" Parmigiano~Reggiano. Look at the end of the wedge of the cut cheese. Stamped pressed on the end of the wedge it should say Parmigiano~Reggiano.

Quick & Easy Pasta Recipe (Tomato, Basil Pasta with Parmigiano)

  • Parmigiano~Reggiano is great shredded over hot pasta with fresh tomato's, fresh basil, grated garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Mix all your ingredients together in a large pasta bowl and pour the hot drained pasta on top. Toss the pasta, tomato's and basil.
  • The heat from the pasta will release all the flavors.
  • Add a little more pasta water if needed so it isn't too dry. Top with Shredded Parmigiano~Reggiano.

When displaying a Italian Cheese board for you party you should always have at least three different cheeses. Let the cheese sit at room temperature for about a half an hour before serving. You will find the flavors are much better.

Serve your Italian Cheese on your cheese board with red and green grapes, apple wedges, pears, cut figs drizzled with honey.

Enjoy!



Tip Of The Day:

Make your supermarket pancake mix better!
Here is a trick to make your ordinary supermarket pancake mix better and it's easy.

I use Krusteaz light & fluffy Buttermilk Complete Pancake Mix. I actually get it at Costco in the 10 lb bag. You just need to add water. Any boxed mix will do.

When we make pancakes I add a little cinnamon and vanilla. It makes the best pancakes! You can also add a dash of nutmeg for a cold winter morning! They taste and smell great!

To make sure the kids get their healthy serving of fruit you can also add applesauce, canned peaches (in natural juice), bananas, shredded apples, or any soft fruit you can mash or chop up real fine. Most of the time the kids don't even know I have added something healthy and eat it up!

Potato Pancakes - Use your cheese shredder to shred a potato. Add the potato to the pancake mix. Cook per instructions on box. Just like Grandma used to make!

Waffles - you can do the same for waffles, just follow the cooking directions on the box and add your favorites!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How To Cook Rice Made Easy!

First ignore the directions on the box!
There are several different types of rice and should be cooked correctly:
  • Long Grain
  • Medium Grain
  • Short Grain
  • Brown Rice

Next time you are in the supermarket take time to check out all the different kinds of rice available.

Long Grain Rice - very common in the supermarket, as well as Basmati rice (aged extra-long rice from India), Texmati (domestic) and Thai Jasmine. It is slender, long, five times longer than it is wide. Long grain rice cooks light and fluffy with a firm texture. Wonderful for pilafs and salads. You cold cook it using the absorption method which is fine. But you should try a sauteed method to bring out the toasted almost nutty flavor.

Medium Grain Rice - Medium grain rice is fat with a dusty chalky grain, only three times longer than it is wide. It is great for risotto and paella it is tender and some what sticky.

Short Grain Rice - Opaque, round grains. It is the softest and stickiest rice when cooked. Used a lot in sushi. Best when steamed. The apsorption method can be used as long as you don't boil it so that it turns to mush.

Brown Rice - Light brown with maybe a little hint of green grains here and there. Known for it's fiber content. Long like the long grain rice. Takes twice as long to cook as white. Cooks much better in the oven than on stove top. Brown rice has a nutty chewy flavor.

Cooking the rice:

Absorption Cooking - Rice is simmered slowly in a measured amount of rice to water. For example 1 cup rice to 1 3/4 cup water. Bring to boil stir, cover and reduce heat to low or simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork. Cooking time for short grain rice 16 -18 minutes, wild rice 35 to 45 minutes.

Pilaf Cooking - Saute in hot oil or butter quickly before adding liquid to release the nutty flavor. Onions, garlic and spices are added before adding the rice. After the rice is added saute for about 3 minutes. Add the liquid and salt, increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and grains are tender. Let sit covered 10 minutes and fluff with fork. Cook time for long grain rice 18-20 minutes, short grain rice 16-18 minutes.

Oven Cooking - Great for brown rice. Heat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle of the oven. Bring liquid to boil on stove top. Add rice, liquid and salt to a baking dish, cover with foil cook until tender. About one hour.

Five steps to remember when cooking rice:

  1. Choose the right pot.
  2. Cook low, bring water to boil, cover, then reduce heat.
  3. DO NOT stir cause the rice to break apart.
  4. Keep a lid on it. Don't peek! You peek and you release the steam needed for moisture.
  5. Let it sit. Let it sit off the heat to complete the cooking process and allowing the rice to firm up.

Enjoy!


Sauteed Button Mushrooms With Shallots and Thyme:

Button Mushrooms are white very absorbent with a spongy texture that causes the mushrooms to soak up any and all fat in the pan. Along with a high water content which releases into the pan and prevents browning.

This is why you must crank up the heat while cooking, cook a little longer. Get the water out of the Button Mushrooms and then they will brown nicely.

Depending on your type of skillet the cooking time may decrease.

Make sauteed Button Mushrooms with more flavor with these easy steps:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of supermarket white Button Mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, cut in 1/2 if small or quartered if large
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted or salted butter
  • 1 medium Shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup red wine or dry Marsala
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat until oil is shimmering (hot). Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook about five minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid.
  2. Increase temperature to high and cook, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has evaporated about 8 minutes.
  3. Add butter, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook stirring once every minute or so until Button Mushrooms are dark brown, approximately 8 minutes longer.
  4. Add Shallot and Thyme and cook until tender, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add wine and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  6. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. Use to top your favorite steak, pork or as a side.

Be creative! Next time add some garlic, your favorite herbs, soy sauce, bread crumbs

Don't be afraid to taste along the way, it's
very important.

Test this recipe out on your family with a trial run first. The second time you will have the knowledge and it will be very easy so you can show off at your next dinner party!

What is a Shallot?

  • aggregate bulb of the multiplier onion
  • type of onion plant producing small clustered mild-flavored bulbs used as seasoning
  • has a light onion taste with a hint of garlic

Tip Of The Day:

Taking the grease out of Pepperoni!

Pepperoni leaving a ton of grease on top of your home made pizza?

Here is an easy fix. Remove Pepperoni from it's package and layer the Pepperoni on a paper towel lined microwave safe plate. Rotate layers.

Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and you can actually see the grease has absorbed into the paper towel! Top your pizza with the Pepperoni. This leaves your home made pizza less greasy there fore less fat! Enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tip Of The Day:

Storing fresh Asparagus
Make a fresh cut with kitchen scissors to the ends of fresh Asparagus, wash and store upright in a glass or container to fit with a little water to keep your Asparagus fresh for days!
Lemon Chicken Made Easy!




Lemon Chicken is a light delightful chicken dish with a refreshing lemon sauce. It can be served with rice or a lightly seasoned pasta.

Wine: White, goes well with chicken.


Ingredients:


  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (one per person)

  • One Lemon

  • Capers

  • One medium shallot or three green onions chopped

  • Three garlic cloves chopped

  • One can chicken broth or white wine

  • Flower

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and Pepper

  • Fresh Chopped Italian Parsley
  • Pasta or rice

Prepare pasta or rice according to package.

Prepare the chicken breasts by cutting the breasts length wise into three pieces (if thick breasts butterfly and cut apart). Lay on cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound slices of chicken until nice and thin. Lightly salt and pepper.

Dredge the chicken in flour on both sides and place in a prepared heated pan with enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Do not crowd the chicken in the pan. Saute just until lightly browned should only take about two minutes per side. Remove and place on paper towel.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil to pan if needed. Add shallot or green onions saute until tender. Then add two tablespoons of capers saute for about two minutes. Add garlic, stir just to flavor the oil (if garlic cooks too long and turns dark it turns bitter).

De glaze the pan: Add 3/4 cup of wine or chicken broth to pan, stir to remove all the yummy flavorful bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn temperature to med low to simmer and reduce the sauce.

Zest 1/2 of the lemon into the sauce. Only zest the yellow and not the white. The white is bitter. Cut the remaining lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the sauce removing any seeds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can add but remember you cannot remove! So season a little at a time and taste!

Return the chicken breasts to the pan and simmer in the sauce turning once to finish cooking. The flour from the chicken should help thicken the sauce lightly. This should only take a couple minutes.

Serve over angle hair pasta seasoned with salt, pepper and a little olive oil, or rice.

Top with chopped Italian parsley, a little more lemon zest. Enjoy!

Serves (4) adults








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