Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Lemon Cake

I can't cook. Period. Whatsoever. I used to be able to kind of "experiment" in the kitchen, but the last few years I've just lost all interest in even doing that. The only time I enjoy cooking, or baking, is when it's not planned. As in, spur of the moment type cooking or baking. One of those times was to make lemon cake. It went well, but there's a few things I would change in the future. I love lemon and the recipe I followed didn't give the lemon cake enough lemon taste.


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter , softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon zest from about 4 medium lemons
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Prepare your cake pans with vegetable grease (I use Spectrum brand). Be sure to get in the corners. Set aside.

3. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk to combine all together. Set aside.

4. In an electric mixer, combine butter, sugar and lemon zest. Add the whole eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the egg whites one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla. 

5. Incorporate the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients alternating between the dry mix and the sour cream as you add them together. 

6. If making one large cake, pour cake batter into prepared pan, if baking two separate cakes, divide the batter into each pan evenly. 

7. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Check the center with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Lemon Frosting:

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Mix butter with electric mixers for about 1 minute, until creamy. 

2. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix until creamy. 

3. For a thicker icing, add more powdered sugar, for a runnier icing, add more lemon juice.

4. Poke holes in the top of the cake in random places and drizzle your icing over the top. If a thicker icing issued, you don't have to poke any holes, just ice the cake normally.

Jalapeno Poppers

I can't cook. Anyone that's around me for longer than three months knows this. I do try, but I honestly can't stand cooking, so me sharing a recipe is a huge deal. Plus, I'm a picky eater, so the things I eat, that I've cooked are rare. Some of it is a failure, but I am getting better with knowing what I can and can't cook. Here's one of the things I actually enjoy making and cooking. And, plus side, they are easy to do.

Jalapeno Poppers

What you'll need:
  1. 20-30 jalapeno/poblano/Anaheim peppers (seeded and cut lengthwise) **use gloves for this**
  2. 3-4 (8oz) blocks of cream cheese (room temperature)
  3. 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  4. 1 teaspoon of pepper
  5. 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
  6. 1 tablespoon of jalapeno juice (this adds some additional spice to the mix)
  7. 2-3 jalapeno seeds (if you want it spicier)
Mix together in a bowl and fill each jalapeno shell. Be sure to overfill to your desired amount. Bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, or until the tops are browned. 

*Additionally, you can add bacon bits on top, or shredded cheese in the last two minutes of baking


Basil/Tomato Chicken Wrap

This recipe is one of the house favorites here. Extremely easy to make and delicious. We normally make this toward the end of the week when we are low on meals for dinner, or lunch. I've even made two batches and placed them in glass lunch containers, so The Mr. can have something to grab and go for lunches for a few days. They are a high-end meal for low effort preparing and baking. 


What you will need:

Two organic, free-range chicken breasts (we like to use Roxy-the organic chicken)
Organic extra virgin olive oil 
Sea salt and organic black pepper
Organic mozzarella (we like to use Organic Valley)
Organic Roma tomatoes-sliced (about two)
Fresh, organic basil leaves


What to do:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and remove any fat from the chicken breast. Lay them out on a flat work surface and begin slicing them length-wise to cut into two equal-sized pieces. Once cut you should have four pieces to work with. Lay a small sheet of parchment paper over each breast and pound flat to about 1/4-inch thickness. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Rub the salt and pepper into the breasts. Add two slices of tomato, a few leaves of basil, and a thin slice of mozzarella. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add another small drizzle of olive oil. Roll up chicken breasts starting from the larger end and rolling to the narrow end. Place on olive oil drizzled, glass baking dish seam-side down. Drizzle more olive oil on top of each breast and sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and top each breast with a small slice of mozzarella. Broil five more minutes to melt and lightly brown the cheese. To cut calories with this dish you can leave off the last step with the cheese on top and just sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving (as pictured below).


Serve them hot along side some French baguette slices!


(As with any recipe, be sure to use quality, non-gmo, organic ingredients) 

PAP-Porridge

Honestly, you've probably never heard of PAP, but I will assure you, it's a quick and a really historic dish. My grandmother, Edna-Mae, was Cherokee Indian and also grew up during the Great Depression. Somewhere along the way there's a book that talks about family on her side walking the Trail of Tears. If you recall, my family is in Arkansas and we also have family in Oklahoma, where my grandparents, on my mom's side, live. My uncle/aunt, cousins, second cousin, extended family, etc. still live in Oklahoma. Right on the edge of the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line is a town called Fort Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith is the end of the Trail of Tears. My grandmother had it rough at times and the stories family tells about her is amazing. Her family, my great grandmother/father didn't have a lot and my grandmother would dig for used notebook paper and erase what was on the page so she could use it again for herself in school. I don't look at that as poor, but as resourceful and honestly, she was recycling before recycling was cool.

...I digress, with the family of my late grandmother being part of the Indian-forced movement and also being in the middle of the Great Depression hoarding of food, and trying to extend the use of food happened. And of course, more thought was given to the children and babies than the older children, or adults. So PAP was created as a makeshift type of baby food, since actual baby food was expensive and babies are finicky when it comes to eating. PAP could still be used as a baby food nowadays, but with the options and healthier varieties, it might not be the first choice. Many a night has my grandmother, and many others, during the Great Depression gone to bed hungry. Porridge has been used for centuries, different forms of it, but used nonetheless for a quick, cheap food option to feed many. Makes you appreciate the way the world has become and how it's easy for us to go and find food when needed. We make PAP at least once or twice a year and I think it's best on Christmas morning with pancakes, and reminds us that family history is amazing and we should be grateful for what we have now thanks to their sacrifices.

Here's how it's made-which is incredibly simple.

PAP

What you'll need:



5 cups organic whole milk (We prefer Organic Valley brand)
2 cups organic sugar (more to taste, if you like)
1/2 cup organic white flour (or more for desired thickness)
Ground cinnamon (We use Simply Organic brand)

What to do:

Add all five cups of milk to a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler you can use a saucepan full of water and a large bowl over the sauce pan. the point of the double boiler is to keep the mix from burning, which is easy to do. While making this recipe do not leave the stove, or mix unattended. It's a slow process, so be patient. Bring the milk to a small boil over medium-high heat. Don't allow milk to boil rapidly because it will boil over. Once the milk is at a small boil add the sugar and turn the heat down to medium. Stir with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about five minutes.

Once the sugar is dissolved add the flour at one tablespoon at a time, whisking the entire time. It will begin to thicken over time, so go slow and add the flour slowly one spoonful at a time. You can either have runnier PAP, or thicker PAP. We enjoy the thicker PAP in our home and growing up my mom's mix was a thick mix as well. Keep stirring in the flour with the whisk until your desired thickness is reached. Removed from heat and allow to sit for five minutes. Serve up on a flat plate one ladle at a time until you have a good amount of the plate. Sprinkle the middle of the PAP with ground cinnamon and serve. You eat the PAP by stirring the middle cinnamon area to combine while leaving the sides white. It's wonderful and I hope it becomes a tradition in your home like it was in my grandmother's, my mom's, and now mine.


Serve it while it's hot and enjoy!

Other forms of PAP:

-Version One
-Version Two
-Version Three
-My post from 2012

(As with any recipe, be sure to use quality, non-gmo, organic ingredients) 

Organic Ranch Potatoes

We have slowly been making the shift in our house to more organic foods and trying desperately to cut our waste. We've been doing a good job with the waste this far, but getting away from non-organic food habits is a struggle still. It's a slow process, but we are making ourselves do it because it's the right thing for our health and wellness. I found a few USDA Organic sales this past week on canned tomatoes and racked up as much as I could. The thing is, it would have been better to grow all of the tomatoes and can them myself, but this was the first year we've tried our hand at growing Roma tomatoes in raised beds and we only had three plants. I am thinking next year one entire raised bed needs to be for growing Romas and I can learn more about how to can tomatoes over the next year. As for now, we had great luck with potatoes in our garden. We grew red potatoes and also gave a go at some Yukon golds. We have stored a lot of them already, but the growing process of potatoes goes clear into the cold season, which I love. I am hoping for a good crop of broccoli and lettuce varies we are growing right now, too. With all of the potatoes I have been coming up with great ideas on what to cook them with and how to cook them alone. One of the good ones I've come across is the ranch potatoes recipe below. The Mr. and The Bean love them and I hope it becomes a staple in your house too, like it has in ours.

Organic Ranch Potatoes

What you'll need:


Olive oil (Make sure it bares the USDA Organic label)
Dry Ranch Dip seasoning (2 packages) (We used Simply Organic's USDA Organic Ranch Dip Mix)
Organic Potatoes (about 10)
Salt/Pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Wash and remove any blemishes from the potatoes. Take your time on this step to make sure there are no "bad" spots on your potatoes. After washing and prepping, slice into thin, even slices. I used red and Yukon gold potatoes for this recipe and they both baked up nicely. The thicker the slices the less chance of the thinner slices burning. 

Drizzle olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the slices on a baking sheet-slightly overlapping just a bit. 

In a separate bowl add a cup of olive oil and one package of the Ranch Dip mix and whisk. Pour over the top of half of the slices making sure to cover them completely. Repeat the same steps above with the second half of the potatoes. Shake on a handful of salt over the potatoes and a handful of pepper-or to taste. (if you are cutting back salt in your diet, skip this step)


Place baking sheet in the middle of the oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.


Serve hot and enjoy!

(As with any recipe, be sure to use quality, non-gmo, organic ingredients) 

Homemade quick pizza

Every Friday night in our house, we go for pizza. We have created so many different varieties of pizza in our home kitchen that it almost seems to come second nature to all of us to throw together something on a pie fast.  Here is our version of a 10 minute homemade pizza.


What you'll need:

• Pizza dough:  You can either make this from scratch or use one of the many varieties out on the market now days.  Of course, we have tried both ways and we prefer the Mama Mary's variety in the Thin & Crispy.  The crust comes out in perfect texture every time.

• Pizza sauce:  We really like to doctor any type of pizza sauce we get, so we go with a varieties that doesn't have too much garlic with and just enough of the other spices to make it delicious.

• Toppings:  We go with the old standbys of pepperonis and black olives (smashed by hand), as well as cheese. 

We also incorporate the cheese flavoring from BRAGG Nutritional Yeast Seasoning.  We are trying slowly to eat more clean, and these "secret" ingredients allow us to slowly introduce our bodies to new tastes and flavors that are healthy for our systems.

We cover the entire pizza and make it a family effort.  Everyone gets to add something to the pizza before it's cooked.



Once it's covered in the toppings, it cooks for eight minutes at 375 degrees. (adjust this temperature and time depending on your oven.)

Once it's done cooking, remove it from the oven and slice up.  

Rosemary Red Potatoes

I simply love rosemary, the scent, the plant itself, and I love cooking it with it most of all.  Along with my Rosemary Mashed Potatoes, I love incorporating the rosemary into other dishes.

Recently I have been using my steamer more and more for fish dishes, vegetables, and even for some fruits.  Steamed pineapple is delicious   The most recent steamer dish I made was steamed rosemary red potatoes.  They are super yummy and very healthy addition to a dinner plate.  Here's how it's done.

  
I use (roughly) 20 small red potatoes, also known as new potatoes.
2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper Seasoning
1 tsp. Rosemary (dried)
3 springs Fresh Rosemary

Wash and cut the red potatoes into bite-sized piece.  Place them into your steamer and add the water underneath.  The steamer I use is an Oster, similar to the ones below. 

Add your herbs and seasonings, all but the fresh rosemary.  Close the lid.

  

Set the timer to 20 minutes.




Cut and wash your fresh rosemary.  I keep a plant growing in my kitchen window for easy access and it thrives there.  After 20 minutes of cooking, add the fresh rosemary on top of the potatoes.



Steam for an additional 20 minutes.

The smell through your kitchen is amazing during this time!


After 40 minutes of total cook time, your potatoes are ready to serve!

Enjoy!


Eco-Tip:  The seasons are changing and now is the time to start mowing your lawn once again.  Instead of bagging your grass clippings, leave them on the lawn to fertilize the grass once again.  This method also reduces the amount of grass waste left in landfills too.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.

A Southern Tradition

Biscuits and gravy are indeed a southern tradition for sure.  I grew up on biscuits in gravy in the countryside of Arkansas and loved the smell of homemade biscuits cooking throughout my parent's home.  My mom makes some of the best biscuits you ever put butter on and she really knows how to bring people to the table with her gravy as well.  

Biscuits have gotten a bit more fluffy over the years that they have been baked.  The first biscuit was actually a flat bread that would be pout back in the oven hence the "bis" part of biscuits...."bis" meaning twice, as in twice cooked.  The flat bread was hard and was eaten by soldiers  to help keep them full while traveling to and from war zones. (Source)  With that said the flakier, fluffier biscuit came from the southern kitchens over time and were added to just about every meal that came out of the kitchen in the south.  I remember having a biscuit with breakfast at least and at almost every dinner.  

Gravy came along with the turn of the need for a fuller meal to keep farmers and military men full.  It was a cheap way of using all the parts of cooking meat.  The meat fats were either used on the biscuits straight or milk, flour and water were added to make the grease and fat go further for more mouths.  

Now days there are a bit more choices and the options for biscuits and gravy are thought to be a treat rather than a need for a hearty meal.  Here is my twist on a history making, southern tradition.

A few months before Valentine's Day last year my mom sent me a package of the Loveless Cafe biscuit mix.  If you want a great tasting buttermilk biscuit without the hassle of all the measuring and mixing, give this mix a try.  All you add is the buttermilk!

The Loveless Cafe is in Tennessee and you can snag your own biscuit mix and Loveless Cafe jam set  HERE for under $40.



I baked my biscuits in a cast iron skillet just like my mom used to do when I was a kid.  I love the skillet biscuits because the bake up all smashed together and just seem like real biscuits that way instead of on a cookie sheet.  

How tasty and yummy do those look?



Next came the gravy.  A simple gravy is made with a fat, flour, milk, and finally water.  That's just about it!

  Here's how it's done the southern way:

Start with a cup of bacon grease.  Heat the bacon grease over medium heat and add a cup of flour.  Turn the heat up to medium high and combine the bacon grease with the flour and begin to "burn" the flour.  Once the flour begins to burn or turn brown slightly, reduce the heat back down to medium and add 2 cups of milk.  Combine the milk with the burned flour and bacon grease mixture with a wire whisk until thick.  Add 3 cups of water and turn heat on high.  Whisk the gravy mixture until thick and reduce heat to low.  Serve over the top of prepared biscuits.  



Serve with a pad of butter and salt/pepper on top.  The BEST biscuits and gravy you ever tasted.  Such a southern tradition for breakfast on the weekends! 

Enjoy!


Eco-Tip:  Use bulk items when you can.  Buying items in bulk and storing in reusable food containers can help cut down on manufacturers package waste with each item you buy.  When you do go buy bulk items, be sure and take your own reusable bags to fill as well too.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.

Reading the wine bottle

Opening a wine bottle is really rather easy and most people freak out a little when cork gets in the wine inside the bottle. That doesn't really affect the taste, but it could be a bit embarrassing if it pours out into a wine glass with the wine. 
Even if you pull the cork out perfectly there is still a chance that some cork could end up in the wine inside the bottle inevitably but having a good cork screw is important as well. Having a cork screw that doesn't do it's job, can mean more work for you pulling the cork out and possibly more cork chips to end up in the bottle too. Look for one with a rounded spiral and a handle that's easy for you to grip. Metal spirals are the best for digging dip into the cork and pulling it out with ease.

When it comes to pouring the wine, fill it only 1/3 full and never to the rim of the glass. You want to leave room for the wine to move around in the glass and allow oxygen to hit the wine to help release flavors in the process. End your pour with a turn as you come up to end the wine's forward motion so that not a drop is dripped more. 
Good rule of thumb only decant young and old wines, young wines for oxygen to help with the flavor of the wine and old wines to help remove sediment. 

Always drink wine slow and enjoy the taste. If you sip it fast, you won't get to really see if the wine is one that you will like in the future. Smell the wine, let it sit on your tongue and enjoy the taste and scent of the wine to fully grasp the entire boldness, fruitiness and freshness of the wine overall.

Common Wine Flavors:

• Zinfandel, Shiraz:  Peppery Flavor

• Chardonnay, Champagne:  Toast or Butter Flavor

• Burgundy:   Nutty Flavor

• Pinot Blanc:  Peach or Apricot Flavor

• Riesling:  Citrus Flavor

• Pinot Noir:  Red Fruity Flavor (strawberry)

• Cabernet Sauvignon:  Chocolate or Mint Flavor

• Sauvignon Blanc:  Vanilla Flavor

Look for body, weight, depth, and texture in the wines above.  Your taste pallet may differ from someone else so don't guaranty you will like what someone else does automatically without tasting it. 

Go for these tips in restaurants as well, just don't go for the expensive wines for the first time in a restaurant.  Use that time to spend money on expensive wines for when you are at home.


Brandon's Great Guacamole

Photo credit: avocadopoint.com

2 avocados
1/2 fresh tomato
1/4 onion
1 fresh diced jalapeno pepper
1 lemon squeezed
salt to taste

Cut and scoop two avocados into a bowl and mash the into a paste. Dice half a tomato, a quarter of an onion and one jalapeno pepper and place them into the bowl. Cut and squeeze one whole lemon into the bowl and the salt to taste. Mix the ingredients together and you have yourself a very quick and tasty guacamole.

Enjoy!


Eco-Tip:  Remember, unless you have Celiac Disease your body can digest gluten products.  Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by the intake of gluten in genetically predisposed individual.  it is estimated that the 1% of the population have Celiac Disease  but a vast majority of the population still remains un-diagnosed.  If you suspect that you may have CD talk to your doctor.  For this and other tips on going green visit, The Earth and Me Go Green.