Thursday, July 31, 2014

Canning Season

 Canning season is under way! I have a couple of canning projects going on several days each week to prepare for winter. I love being able to preserve some flavors of summer to be eaten on t he cold days of winter.

Corn was on the list a couple of days ago. I can almost all of my corn, but I also freeze a couple of dozen ears for corn on the cob. I like having more of my food in jars rather than the freezer because I don't have to worry about the power going off. 

You will probably be seeing a lot of canning projects over the next few weeks, they kind of take over the kitchen this time of year!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Spicy Honey Chicken

This is one of those recipes I stumbled on a while back that we absolutely love. It has just enough heat that you can taste it, but the heat is not overwhelming at all. I usually make this dish on a Sunday afternoon, or anytime that I am going to be home for a while. It bakes in the oven for a while and does need to be basted frequently, but it is worth the time!

A few simple ingredients:

This chicken is always juicy and tender and full of flavor.

It looks burnt in the picture, but it wasn't. I cannot get a good picture of anything when their is foil involved!

Spicy Honey Chicken

6 pound) whole roasting chicken
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Rinse and pat dry the chicken; place in roasting pan.

In a bowl, mix together the honey, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Using your hands, rub the honey mixture all over the chicken. Baste chicken with the melted butter.

Roast the chicken in the preheated oven until the skin begins to brown, 30 to 45 minutes. Baste the chicken with juices in the roasting pan.

Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and roast until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Baste occasionally during roasting. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (80 degrees C). Remove the chicken from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blueberry Smoothie Pops

We really fo eat a lot of these popsicles, especially in the summer. This week we are having Blueberry Smoothie Pops. They are super easy and quick to make and only have a few basic ingredients. For these, I used 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of vanilla yogurt and 1/4-1/3 cup of milk. I toss all that in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Skillet Corn

I love fresh corn on the cob. One of our favorite ways to eat it is to just shuck it, season it,wrap in foil and toss it on the grill. Kip isn't as crazy about corn on the cob as I am so when I have fresh corn, I try to look for other ways of using it. Skillet corn is one of those things I will make when he has had his fill of corn cobs.

You will need 4-6 ears of corn, some butter, milk, flour, coarse ground pepper and onion. Shuck and clean the corn; cut it off the cob. 

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Dice the onions and add to the melted butter.

Cook until the onions are softening and just starting to brown.

Add the corn to the onions in the pan and cook for about 10 minutes.

After the corn has cooked for a bit, add about 1/2 cup of milk and a couple of tablespoons of flour. Cook until the milk thickens. 

Season with coarse ground pepper and salt if desired.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Pecan Pancakes

Growing up, my Dad worked swing shift most of the time. The week he worked the midnight shifts, we ate breakfast for dinner. I love breakfast foods, so that always worked for me. I still like to have breakfast for dinner pretty often. Pancakes are one of those things that I only want to eat every once in a while but when I do, I try to make enough for dinner and some extra for the freezer. I don't always have time in the mornings to make a full breakfast, but if I have things that are ready to go it makes it a lot easier on me,

I decided this go round to make pecan pancakes. When I was a little girl, my Dad often made pancakes for us. According to him, they were so light and fluffy that he would have to use coke bottles to hold them down on the griddle. But my Mom is the one that introduced me to Pecan Pancakes and they are one of my favorites.

Ingredients gathered:

Dry ingredients are mixed in one bowl, wet ingredients are in the other.

Pecans are added and then mixed until batter is just mixed.

Cooking in a hot pan

Always wait for the surface to be filled with air bubbles before turning your pancakes.

Yum! A nice stack of piping hot Pecan Pancakes. Add a little maple syrup and butter if you like and enjoy! 

Pecan Pancakes
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted if desired
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
vegetable oil
pecan halves (optional) 

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, soda, and chopped pecans.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and milk, egg yolks, and melted butter. Blend into the dry ingredients just until all ingredients are moistened.

Beat egg whites in another bowl until stiff peaks form.

Fold into the batter until well incorporated.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet over medium heat (or use a griddle to make more at a time).

When skillet is hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle, scoop pancake batter onto the skillet in about 1/4-cup portions, spreading slightly.

When edges are rather dry and bubbles are popping and bottoms are nicely browned, about 2 to 3 minutes, turn over and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes longer.

Serve hot with butter and syrup and garnish with pecan halves or fruit, if desired.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dinner with the Girls

It has been a while since I have shown a cooking project with Jenna and Samantha. Now that they are in middle and high school and are involved in after school activities and no longer need a nanny, they aren't at my house very often. Now I tend to go to their house and cook with them and their Mom. This was a dinner we prepared a couple of weeks ago, Judy came up with the menu, but we all pitched in to get it all cooked. We had Red Bean and Quinoa Burgers, Hamburgers, Slaw, Pasta Salad, Caprese Salad and some sauted mushrooms to top the burgers. 

We always have a great time cooking together, trying new recipes and just hanging out together. I have been cooking with the girls since they were tiny and I love that they still enjoy cooking. It is also great that that they can pretty much do anything thing in the kitchen. 

We had so much fun, we are going to start scheduling these a little more often. Judy had the great idea of having our own book club. All four of us will read the same book, we will get together and cook dinner and discuss our books. We are reading our first book now.

Great times!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mango Freezer Pops and a Peek into a Collection

We eat a lot of frozen pops in my house. Pretty much year round, but in the summer we eat even more. I try and make my own, most of the time they are frozen juices or smoothies, using real fruit, yogurt and honey to sweeten (if needed). No crazy food dies, not artificial flavors or sweeteners.

I don't have a set recipe for most of the ones I make, I just put a couple of cups of fruit, about a cup of vanilla or plain yogurt and a little milk into the blender and just blend it all together. Easy, peasy!

The Mango-Raspberry pops on the left use the above ratio. I used four ripe mangoes about 3/4 cup of raspberries, a cup of yogurt and enough milk to make everything blend smoothly.

The Mango-Chili ones are different, I have had the recipe forever, but this was my first time making it. I am interested to see how the cayenne pepper tastes after freezing! I tasted the mixture before freezing and it was prety good.(Recipe below)

So you might have noticed that I have a few different molds. Once I get on a kick with something, I am really on a kick. I am pretty frugal in most every aspect and can really stretch a dollar. Except when it comes to kitchen tools and art supplies. I still bargain hunt, but things that get used a lot are worth a little extra money, if they have a function that the cheaper ones might be lacking. I like molds that allow me to remove the popsicle from the base--I don't like the ones that have 4-6 together and you have to wait until they are all gone to wash it and start again. Once mine are frozen, I toss them in a big plastic bag labeled with the flavor and as soon as we have eaten enough for a new batch, I can start again. Doing this also makes it easier for me to have a few different flavors in the freezer at a time. I love all my molds. The Ice Cream Cones can be found here , the Ring Pops (perfect for little ones) can be found here and the Monster Pops are here.  

I really like the Tovolo brand of molds, I use mine a lot and they have held up beautifully.Here are some reasons these are my favorite brand:

*** After at least three or four years, of almost constant use, they show almost no signs of wear
***They come in lots of fun shapes
*** BPA free
***The cones catch drips,great with little ones
***The led of the cones comes off easier than any other molds I have ever used

   *** They all come off the base that is used for freezing and the bases are sturdy so you don't have to worry about them collapsing on the way to the freezer. The fact that I can remove them from the base is my number one reason for loving and preferring the Tovolo brand molds.

My name is Gina and I have a serious Kitchen Gadget fixation!

Mango Chili Pops

2 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup honey
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and flesh scooped out
2 tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Toss everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into molds and freeze.