Monday, November 23, 2009

Kitchen Tips

Until I return to the land of the cooking {will the morning sickness ever end?!}, here are some useful hints:


To determine whether an egg is fresh, immerse it in a pan of cool, salted water. If it sinks, it is fresh~if it rises to the surface, throw it away.

To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

Sweeten whipped cream with confectioners' sugar instead of granulated sugar~it will stay fluffy and hold it's shape better.

If you don't have enough batter to fill all cupcake tins, pour 1 tablespoon of water into the unfilled spots...this helps preserve the life of your pans.

Mash and freeze ripe bananas, in one-cup portions, for use in later baking~no wasted bananas (or you can freeze them whole, peeled, in plastic baggies)

To quickly use that frozen juice concentrate, simply mash it with a potato masher~no need to wait for it to thaw!

Spray your tupperware with non-stick cooking spray before pouring in tomato-based sauces~no more stains!

Transfer your jelly to a small plastic squeeze bottle~no more messy, sticky jars or knives! This also works well for homemade salad dressing!

When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead~no white mess on the outside of the cake!

Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator it will keep for weeks!

Substitute half applesauce for the vegetable oil in your baking recipes~you'll greatly reduce the fat content! (Example: 1/2 cup vegetable oil = 1/4 cup applesauce + 1/4 cup oil)

Place a slice of bread in hardened brown sugar to soften it back up.

Potatoes will take food stains off your fingers. Just slice and rub raw potato on the stains and rinse with water.

Instead of throwing away a sponge that has a stale odor, simply toss it in the dishwasher and wash it with the next load of dishes. It will come out clean and fresh smelling and will kill any bacteria in the sponge, so it's a good idea to toss your sponges into the dishwasher often.

Save celery leaves. Spread them out on paper towels or a paper plate and let them dry. Crumble them into soups, salads and stuffing's. They will add an extra zippy flavor for free.

Make giant ice cubes in muffin tins or plastic margarine bowls. These are perfect for using in picnic coolers or punch bowls. They look pretty and keep your drinks or food cold longer.

Don't throw those single serving gelatin plastic cups away, make your own single servings. Place the cups in a muffin holder, fill the cups and place in the refrigerator. It only takes a few minutes and no mess.

Fruit Freshener - Use 2 vitamin C tablets in a big bowl of water...let them dissolve and stir...dunk any veggie or fruit and it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks and vitamin C won't hurt you either! Try it out on a potato... dunk the potato and leave it out on the won't discolor... It's the short version of "fruit fresh ".

Brown sugar will not harden if stored in the freezer.

A good trick when you go away on vacation is to place a baggie with a few ice cubes in the freezer. If a power failure occurs while you are gone and the food thaws and then refreezes you will know about it when you get home.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November Gourmet Night

Dreamy Brie
(Sunni B.)

2 wedges of Brie
Heat in 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until it starts melting out of the rind

In small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar together on low heat.
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Tbl. butter

Pour this mixture over warmed Brie. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top. Serve with crackers and apples or pears.

Cranberry Punch
8 cups cranberry juice cocktail
4 cups orange juice
24 oz. Diet lemon-lime soda
Whole cranberries

Combine juices in punch bowl. Pour pop down the sides of the bowl. Float cranberries on the top.

Fall Fruit Salad

1 large head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into small pieces
1 good eating apple, cored and cubed
1 ripe pear, cored and cubed
1 tangerine, peeled, segmented, and diced
6 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup cashew halves
3/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Toss the lettuce, apple, pear, tangerine, cheese, nuts, and dried cranberries in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, beat together the sugar, juices, mustard, and salt until smooth. Slowly beat in the oil to form a smooth dressing. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve immediately. The dressing can be made up to 24 hours in advance and remixed before tossing with the salad.

Butternut Squash Soup
(Barbara Keller)

I love this soup and have to make it every fall.

3 leeks (white portion only), sliced
4 medium carrots, chopped
5 tablespoons butter
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
6 cups chicken broth
3 medium zucchini, peeled and sliced (I do only 1-2)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 cup milk
Grated parmesan cheese and chives, optional

In a Dutch oven (large pot) over medium heat, sauté the leeks and carrots in butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash, broth zucchini, salt, thyme and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Cool until lukewarm. In a food processor, puree soup in small amounts until smooth and return to Dutch oven. Add cream and milk and mix well. Heat through but do not boil. Garnish with parmesan and chives if desired.

(Nicole Ward)

Usually half this:

2 pkg. dry yeast

2 c. lukewarm water

1 c. sugar +2 Tbl

1 c. butter, melted

6 beaten eggs

1 ½ tsp. salt

9 c. flour

Mix yeast with 2 T. sugar and lukewarm water. Add butter (not too hot). Add sugar, and eggs. Mix well w/wire whip (or Kitchenaid). Add 4 c. flour & salt. Whisk again. Change to dough hook. Add 4 ½ c. flour. Cover w/saran wrap. Let rise until double in size (about 2 hours). Put in fridge. Divide in ¼’s (or ½’s if you halved the recipe). Roll into circle. Brush w/melted butter. Cut like a pie into 12 pieces w/pizza cutter. Roll from wide end to point. Place on greased cookie sheet. Cover w/towel. Rise 2-4 hrs. Bake 400 degrees 10 min. Brush top with butter.

Pumpkin Butter

1 (29 ounce) can canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.
2.Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Aunt Amy's Delicious Pork Tenderloin
Favorites (Ivory cookbook)

1 1/4 Cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbl. dry mustard
1 Tbl. pepper
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbl. parsley
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms

Blend the above marinade ingredients in blender. Pour over tenderloins and marinate for 3 to 4 hours. Grill pork on the barvecue at medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning and basting occasionally. Add mushrooms to remaining marinade and heat (I boil it). Slice tenderloins and pour marinade over top to serve.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
5 lb. Potatoes
1- 8oz Cream Cheese (softened)
8 oz Sour Cream
3/4 cup Butter (melted)
Pepper and Garlic Salt to taste

Peel and cut potatoes in half. Place in a large pot of water to boil. Boil until easily mashed. Drain water and use beaters to smooth potatoes. Add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, garlic salt and pepper to taste. Place in a baking dish and cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole
This is the dreamiest sweet potato recipe. My family has it every Thanksgiving. I also make it throughout the year as a side dish with various dinners, but it's especially fall-ish. If the butter and sugar content freaks you out, you can reduce to 1/3 c. each (in the sweet potato part, not topping) and it's still good. I usually do the full amount, though. Oh, and if some people don't like nuts, just put the pecans on half.

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (peel, boil or bake, mix/mash. I use my Kitchenaid mixer.)
½ cup sugar
2 beaten eggs
½ cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat and whip, put in casserole dish

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
mix and sprinkle over potato mixture
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

Sesame Green Beans
(Nicole Ward)

Fresh or frozen green beans, about 1 lb.
1/3 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. butter
1 Tbl. soy sauce
1 Tbl. toasted sesame seeds

Cook beans in boiling water until tender. Mix remaining ingredients in small saucepan and heat until butter is melted and sauce is hot. Serve over beans.

Apple Cake

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
2 ½ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 ½ c. shredded, peeled apples
Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs. Beat; stir in dry ingreds. Fold in apples. Pour into
9 x 9 pan. Bake at 350 for 45 min.

½ c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
½ c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
dash nutmeg
Heat & stir – Do not boil. Pour over warm cake. Serve with whip cream or ice cream.

Soft Gingersnaps

¾ c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
¼ c. molasses
1 egg
Mix above ingredients, then add:
1 t. ginger
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. cloves
2 t. soda
Beat in:2 ¼ c. flour

Mix. Roll into balls and roll into white sugar.
Bake on sheet.Bake 7-9 min, on 375
Leave SOFT, even if you think they're a little underbaked.

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