New Year’s Resolutions

I decided for the new year to make a simple resolution, or at least one that seems simple: Try a new recipe or item each week.  So this could be buying a food I’ve never eaten or ordering something I wouldn’t normally eat from a menu and of course making a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks and magazines.

I thought this seemed simple until I went to fix lunch today!  As I scanned through a couple of cookbooks I realized I am missing ingredients from every recipe!

No canned green chili peppers, no tomato sauce, no fresh mushrooms…. you get the idea.

I’ve got a jar of jalapeno in the fridge, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes, and a can of mushrooms so I could have easily changed any one of the recipes I came across but that sort of defeated my resolution to try a new recipe! So lunch became one of our favorites; black bean and beef soft tacos with no recipe of course.

With any luck I can find a fantastic recipe for tuna steaks for dinner since this week is almost over!  Let the challenge begin.
Image

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

The Three-Minute Egg Experiment

I decided for breakfast a soft-cooked egg sounded delicious.  I haven’t made one in years; well come to think of it I don’t think I have ever made one.

All the articles I read made it sound simple.  Bring the water to a boil and submerge the egg; cook exactly 3 minutes, drain and cover with cool water to stop the cooking.

Some recipes said 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 minutes for soft; 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 for medium.   Another suggestion I read was to bring the egg to room temperature first; but the practicality of warming up an egg first thing in the morning as you are getting ready for the day isn’t really feasible.

So, straight from the carton to the gently boiling water I went; I opted for 4 minutes to ensure the whites were cooked.  I wish I’d taken pictures before throwing them away because not only were the whites still quite runny but the shells stuck like crazy!  Would salt or vinegar in the water have helped? I will have to research this a bit further although poaching seems much more appealing to me right now!

I must say my fried eggs were quite tasty for breakfast; maybe not what I intended but if I don’t tell my husband he’ll still think I am an amazingly perfect cook! … let’s just hope he isn’t counting the eggs!

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

egg

Mozzarella Success ~ Homemade Cheese ~ …time to get Goats!

I posted before about our failed attempt at making cheese.  Well, the second try was a success.  All of the recipes online that say it only takes 30 minutes are oh so wrong!  I didn’t time the process but it was way longer and more tedious than any of the recipes implied ~ don’t get me wrong it was very fun and I am sure will go much quicker with practice but there are some steps that can’t be sped up and heating that can’t be rushed.

Here are some pictures:

It was so hard to tell when the time was right to move from step to step.  Was the whey clear enough? Was the curd firm enough?  So many questions and no definite answers.  We decided after many more minutes than the instructions said the curd was ready to cut and heat again and move on to the next steps.  We went with the salted water method to bring the curd together; most instructions said to use the whey water or a microwave method but we used salt water on the stove top to dip the curd into before kneading and stretching the cheese.

The final result was some great creamy cheese ~ looking forward to trying again maybe working in a little more salt.  We just ate most of it ~ saved some for melting on our stuffed mushrooms too but most of it just got eaten right away! I don’t think I’ve given credit yet, but Charles did almost all of the work.  I was just there for moral support and gentle nagging and of course taste testing!

Now as for the goats ~ Charles has talked of them for a while and with any luck will get some this spring then goat milk will be a plenty. Homemade chévre sounds oh so good!

I didn’t really have a unique recipe to share; most of the online recipes are the same so give one a try!  Just be patient and enjoy ~ Kimberly

Homemade Mozzarella …. or so we hoped!

Today I must share the story of our failed attempt to make cheese.  We bought a kit to make our own mozzarella ~ Yes, I am sure that I could have purchased the ingredients I needed for way less than this kit from Canada; but it was just so darn cute and I couldn’t resist.  It came with everything we needed except of course the milk.  So we gather together all of our equipment; read the provided recipes; look at a couple of online recipes; even watch a couple of videos on You Tube.  Seems easy enough……

We’ve taken the rennet and the citric acid and dissolved them in their own bowls as directed.  Heat the milk to 55 degrees; add the citric acid and stir.  Then we heat to 90 degrees adding the rennet and stirring for no more than 30 seconds as directed … removed heat and let set for 5 minutes.  Here’s where it all went wrong we think …. what does “somewhat hold its shape” mean?  I said “oh, I think that is right”.  Perhaps we were premature in deciding it was holding it’s shape.  Perhaps the milk is ultra-pasturized and unmarked.  Perhaps …..

So we proceed on cutting the curd; heating again, waiting some more … then straining …..

This picture actually makes it look like something but as I continue releasing the whey it all disintegrates.  We decide to continue anyway … heating the whey and trying to knead our cottage cheese ball into something.  I wish I had taken more pictures but by this time the disgust has set in and after several more minutes of trying to make cheese we put on our coats and head to the chinese restaurant for some carry out…. we shall try again.  Just got another gallon of milk perhaps Monday will bring more luck!

Apple Cinnamon Cake ~ a twist on zucchini bread and cobbler!

I get to work today and my cooks are trying to make something of this mushy apple cobbler they’ve been trying to use out.  Trying to sell it as cobbler just isn’t working ~ looking at it leaves something to be desired.  So I get to thinking; what can I do with this?  So before 9:30 in the morning it comes to me ~ a cake!  There is nothing wrong with it ~ it just looks like mushy canned pie filling and I’m not baking and slicing pies today so cake it is.  Well, now I need a recipe.  Flip through the books and find a bananna bread ~ maybe that will work ~ mushy banannas ~ mushy apple cobbler filling …. sounds like about the right consistancy to me …. ok, no shortning.  I get to looking some more and come to a zucchini bread recipe … pehaps this will work.  Indeed it did ~ not too sweet, dense like a quick bread but moist like a cake. This would have made a great bread too, but cake goes better on the buffet so cake it is!

Apple Cinnamon Cake

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbs Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cups Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 Cups Apple Cobbler or Pie Filling

Combine first 6 ingredients.  Mix together oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients stir just until moistened.  Add apple filling mixing until combined. Pour into 2 ~ 9 inch square pans and bake until toothpick in center comes out clean.  350 degrees for 35-45 minutes should do the trick.  Once cool add some icing if desired.  I used a simple powdered sugar and milk with a dash of cinnamon glaze.  Use your favorite ~ I’m sure cream cheese icing would be yummy too.

Hope you enjoy the recipe ~ Get inspired to use your favorite pie filling or create something new! ~ Kimberly

Rustic Chicken ~ a southern inspired dish

Today I’ve not exactly got a recipe to share; just a story and a little inspiration perhaps. Tricia, one of my cooks at work, makes this awesome dish she calls Rustic Chicken ~ I am not sure if it’s an official name for what she makes but it’s one of those warm and homey meals that remind me of mom’s cooking.  It’s served with rice.  I’ll begin with a run down of the basic ingredients she uses then give you my latest spin.

 

 

 

 

Rustic Chicken Basics

  • Smoked Sausage
  • Chicken
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Jalapeno
  • Bok Choy
  • Water

So, I’ve already got the chicken breast thawed and ask Charles what sounds good today.  He asks if I’ve got the stuff for Rustic Chicken ~ of course I don’t but hey, I can always wing it and create something …. where to begin…

Aha, Smoked Sausage, nope, none in the house but ….. got some awesome sausages for Christmas from my sister Jenny and brother-in-law Jeff.  Of course we go straight to the package called Kitchen Sink – haven’t read all the details yet, but looks like they make it with all the “other” parts. Who knew there were “other” parts after making sausage.  Don’t be frightened this is actually good handcrafted Indiana meat – thanks to the Smoking Goose in Indianapolis.

Ok, got the sausge and chicken.  Happen to have onion, garlic, and jalapeno but no bok choy ~ celery will do!  Going to go with Chicken Stock for the water – we love full flavor.

I will post a recipe sometime but just wanted to share this version with you and hope to inspire some creativity.