Pages

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Veggie Casserole

Veggie Casserole


Delicious way to eat your veggies! Make it for dinner, take it for a potluck.

5 cups chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 small red onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a large skillet, cook broccoli, squash, onion and carrots in oil over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp-tender.

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of the cheese; stir into vegtetables.

turn vegetable mixture into lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, pepper and remaining 1/2 cup of the cheese; sprinkle over vegetables. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until light brown.

Serves 6.

Source: Try-Foods International, Apopka, FL.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Irish Potato Casserole

Irish Potato Casserole

Perfect for any meal! "Potatoes served at breakfast, at dinner served again; potatoes served at supper, forever and Amen!"

1 1/2 pounds (4 to 5 medium sized) Irish potatoes, peeled and diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 teaspoon for greasing casserole dish
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons flour
2 coups milk
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
1/2 small onion, finely diced

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover them with cold water. Add a teaspoon of salt and bring potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when a fork is inserted in the center. Carefully drain off water and set potatoes aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Add two tablespoons of the melted butter to the breadcrumbs; mix well and set aside. Reserve the rest of the butter in the saucepan.

Stir in flour, 1/2 teapsoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and th nutmeg into the butter in the saucepan. Cook until mixture starts to bubble around the edges, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add milk, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Use the remaining teaspoon of butter to grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. Combine potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, onion and remaining salt and pepper in the casserole dish. Add sauce and gently mix the ingredients together until well-combined. Sprinkle buttered breadcrumbs over the casserole.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly around the eges and the breadcrumbs are brown. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Source: King Features Synd., Inc., Agnela Shelf Mediaris, The New African-American Kitchen, reprinted by Hermiston Herald, March 10, 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pasta and Marinated Mushrooms

Pasta and Marinated Mushrooms

Excellent for potlucks! Quick and easy, and oh-so delicious!

1 Package of twisted pasta
2 Jars marinated mushrooms, drained
1/2 Cup diced onion
1 Cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 Bottle zesty Italian salad dressing

Boil pasta until tender. Drain, rinse, and let cool.

Mix pasta, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, and dressing together and refrigerate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How To Grill Steak

How To Grill Steak

Ideally, you should be using a fresh piece of meat that isn't frozen. Remove the steak from the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes prior to grilling. This allows the steak to reach room temperature which, in turn, insures even cooking.

Pat steaks dry with a paper towel and coat in olive oil. Let the olive oil drip off to avoid flareups on the grill. In a small bowl combine 1 Tbsp fresh cracked black pepper and 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt or kosher salt per steak. Cover the complete steak in the mixture and rub into the steak. Apply the rub soon after the steak comes out of the fridge. The longer the rub and meat are together, the less rub you will leave on the grate of your grill and the more that will remain on the steak.

While the steak is warming to room temperature, prepare your grill. Always use a hot grill when grilling steak. If you use a gas grill, preheat on high for about 20 minutes. Charcoal grills will need to have enough coals to cover an area a few inches larger on all sides than the steaks going on the grill. The grill will be ready to go when the coals have all ashed over and you can't hold your hand an inch or two over the grill surface more than a second.

Place your steak on the center of your hot grill. Let the steak sit until the down side is gray and seared with grill marks. This will take anywhere from three to six minutes depending on the type of cut and its thickness. When the down side is gray and seared, turn the steak over and let it cook an additional three to six minutes. Again, the time will depend on cut and thickness. Turn the steak once and only once! Don't fiddle around with it. Leave it be and let it cook. When the other side is gray and seared, check the steak for the correct level of "doneness" by making a small cut across the grain of the meat. Remember, you can always throw an undercooked steak back on the grill, but once a steak is overcooked, it's ruined. If the steak is done, take it off the grill and let it sit for about five minutes before serving.

Grilling Chart

Rare: 120 to 130° F internally, bright red center, pinkish toward edges

Medium Rare: 130 to 140° F, dark pink center, light brown toward edges

Medium: 140 to 150° F, light pink center, brown edges

Medium Well: 150 to 160° F, not pink at all

Well Done: 160° F, uniformly brown throughout

Thickness Rare Medium Rare Medium Well Done
1/2" First side: 2 min
Second side: 2 min
First side: 3 min
Second side: 2 min
First side: 3 min
Second side: 3 min
First side: 5 min
Second side: 3 min
1" First side: 5 min
Second side: 3 min
First side: 5 min
Second side: 4 min
First side: 6 min
Second side: 4 min
First side: 8 min
Second side: 6 min

Source: http://www.edhow.com

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drain Unclogger

Drain Unclogger

Not a recipe for food, but it is a simple, quick remedy for a clogged drain.

1 cup baking soda
1 cup vinegar
1 pot of boiling water

Step 1 – Put the DRY baking soda down the drain.

Step 2 – Pour vinegar down the drain after the baking soda. Be sure to cover the drain immediately afterwards with a rag or plug, filling the hole completely so nothing can escape. The interaction of the two will cause a “mini volcano” that will bubble up and out of the drain..you want to keep it down.

Step 3 – Leave this concoction in the drain for about 30 minutes. While you are waiting, boil a tea kettle full of water.

Step 4 – After 30 minutes, remove the plug and slowly pour the HOT water down the drain.

Source: http://www.thegoodhuman.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Canadian-Style French Toast

Canadian-Style French Toast

French toast is such a good breakfast food! Fast, sweet, moist, filling, easy-to-make. This version is especially sweet and moist. Add a fried egg and bacon, fresh orange juice and coffee...fit for a king!

3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 loaf Texas toast (thickly sliced bread)

Beat eggs, milk, brown sugar and vanilla in a bowl large enough to accomodate a slice of bread.

Dip bread into mixture. In a frying pan with enough oil to cover bottom of pan, cook on medium heat, sauteing bread until golden brown, springing back in the middle.

Source: http://www.cooks.com

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Watermelon Done Right: De-Seed Like a Pro

Watermelon Done Right: De-Seed Like a Pro

Watermelon is a passionate, deeply luscious fruit that demands to be treated like the lady she is. Here, in my opinion and experience, is THE Best Way to Prepare, De-Seed, and Serve the Queen of Fruit, Watermelon.

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area

Find a counter in your kitchen and gather some essentials:

  • Cutting Board
  • Large Knife
  • 1 Small Bowl (for seeds and scrapings)
  • 1 Large Bowl (for de-seeded "fillets" of wonderfully sweet watermelon)
  • 1 Garbage can (not shown in photo, but essential for discarding the rind)
  • 1 Ripe, SEEDED watermelon

Seeded watermelon tastes much, much better than the seedless varieties. Tap the watermelon and listen for a pleasant hollow drum sound, rather than a dull thud.

Watermelons grown in my hometown, Hermiston, Oregon, are world famous for being the sweetest, but I'm willing to associate with anyone who loves watermelon - from wherever!

http://blog.oregonlive.com/terryrichard/2009/07/hermiston_watermelons_are_simp.html

Hold Your Horses!

Did you say, DISCARD THE RIND???

My friend, Karen, has deliciously described the delectable pleasure simply named, Pickled Watermelon Rinds . I am anxiously awaiting the recipe, and I hope never to carelessly, thoughtlessly, discard my rinds again.

I'm going to make pickles!

So, with that up-to-the-minute-update, on we go to Watermelon Done Right!

Step 2: First Slice

Slice off one end of the watermelon, bloom-end or stem-end, either one. Consider the slice you cut off as a shallow bowl of watermelon. Don't be too stingy, but don't go overboard, either. The "bowl" will be enjoyed later by your kids (or you!), using a spoon and spitting out the seeds in the traditional manner.

Step 3: Second Cut

Spin the watermelon end-for-end and slice off another shallow "bowl". Remember that the green rind, and the white, dense flesh is basically inedible - it's not sweet at all, so try to get a nice, deep red portion of the sweet part included in your bowls.

Remember that fresh watermelon rind is inedible, but PICKLED WATERMELON RINDS are delectable!

Step 4: Remove The Rind

Up-end your watermelon and slide downward, following the contour of the melon, removing one section of the rind. It's critical that you strike a balance between removing all the white rind, and leaving as much of the sweet, red flesh of the watermelon. After the first section of rind is sliced off, you'll be able to see clearly the margin which you can follow for the remaining cuts.

Step 5: Continue To Remove The Rind

Continue around the melon, removing the rind slice-by-slice. Each slice should be about two-to-three inches wide, removing all the white rind, but leaving as much sweet, red flesh as possible. Remember, NONE of the white rind is sweet - it is quite bitter.

Step 6: The Rind Is Gone! (Save for Pickling!)

At last, we have a beautifully nude watermelon!

Notice the stray bit of white rind showing at the bottom of this model. I removed it after taking the photo - you should leave none of the white rind, not even a bit - it is too bitter!

Step 7: Consider Dividing And Conquering

For larger watermelon, as this one was, I like to divide the melon in half, horizontally. It seems to make it a bit easier to handle before starting the next step.

However, it's not always necessary. Try a couple of melons - one whole, and one divided in half horizontally. Healthy nutrition requires a daily serving of watermelon, in my utopian world, so you likely will enjoy many opportunities to experiment and hone your watermelon slicing skills.

Step 8: Slice Vertically!

Now, slice the watermelon just as you would a loaf of bread. Keep the watermelon oriented vertically, with the flat cut-off ends remaining on the top and bottom. For a larger watermelon, as this one was, I like to cut it in half horizontally, but I must still remember to slice vertically.

I forgot to show you an important tool I use. Many years ago, my wife obtained a plastic Tupperware utensil that has proven itself perfect for de-seeding watermelon. We believe it originally was designed as a lettuce corer. It's about six inches long, with a curved, serrated tip. It fits the hand comfortably, and the serrated tip allows easy scraping of the seeds away from the flesh.

However, a spoon works fine, also.

Step 9: Breaking Along The Seed-Line

Now, pick up one slice, holding it with both hands, and break gently. The fracture will probably follow along the seed-line, for the most part. Most slices will require at least two separate instances of breaking. This breaking is not precise - it just opens up the main deposits of seeds, making it easier to scrape them away. For this slice, I broke it twice, dropping all three sections into the seed bowl. Grab a spoon, or a lettuce corer, and scrape along the seed-line, removing all the seeds.

Step 10: Scrape Away The Seeds

Scrape away every seed. Again, this is a balance, or a compromise, between removing the seeds and leaving the sweet, red flesh of the melon. I scrape only as deeply as I need to remove every seed. Sometimes I spy hidden seeds, seeing just the gray suggestion of where they might lie, just below the surface. I ruthlessly root them out. The tasty flesh that you scrape away is not lost, even as it drops into the seed bowl. At the end of the process, you will mash the leftover scraps, seeds and all, through a sieve or collander, rendering a glassful of sweet watermelon juice.

I do not worry about the white, infertile seeds. They are soft, without taste, and I eat them happily as I enjoy my watermelon. It is only the hard, black seeds that we must contend with. Be diligent! Your reputation as a Server of Watermelon demands that not a single hard, black seed detract from your guests' eating pleasure!

Step 11: Pure, Seedless Delight

As each chunk of watermelon emerges clean, free of any hard, black seeds, drop it into the larger bowl. The bowl will fill with delectable chunks of sweet, juicy red fillets of watermelon, ready to eat.

Be watching for the center slices, the "heart" of the watermelon. It is solid, completely free of any seed-lines, hiding no lurking seeds. It is the sweetest, purest part of the watermelon. At the first opportunity, break off a bit of the heart of the melon, just bite-sized, and offer it to your beloved. It is truly the fruit of love!

Step 12: Making Watermelon Juice

With the large bowl of watermelon chilling in the refrigerator, we can now make use of the leftover scraps in the seed bowl. Place sieve or collander over a third bowl. The photo here shows my orange seed bowl with a ladle. I've scooped out a bit of leftover watermelon scraps, seeds and all, and placed it into my yellow plastic sieve, which is inside a pink bowl - my juice bowl.

Step 13: Do The Mash - The Watermelon Mash!

Use a potato masher, or the like, to mash the leftover scrap pieces of watermelon. The object is to press the juice out of the watermelon and through the small holes in the sieve or collander. Ignore the seeds, white or black. They will not pass through the strainer, and the potato masher will not break them up, nor does it need to break the seeds up.

Step 14: Ambrosia?

Mash up all the leftover scraps of watermelon and discard the remaining seeds and pulp (or toss on to a compost pile). Pour the watermelon juice into a tall glass, add ice, and enjoy!

Look closely at the photograph - those are not ordinary ice cubes! They are cubes of frozen, pure watermelon juice.

Delicious!

Step 15: For The Kids (And The Young At Heart)

Share with the children, or your friends (or hog it all for yourself!) the watermelon bowls you cut from the ends of the melon at the very beginning. The few seeds that you find and must spit out make the sweet, red flesh that much more tasty!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Honey Pecan Chicken with Broiled Tomatoes

Honey Pecan Chicken with Broiled Tomatoes

Delicious! Makes an elegant, but simple meal.

Honey Pecan Chicken

1/4 cup finely chopped pecan chips
1/3 cup cornflake crumbs
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy suace
3/4 pound boneless/skinless checken breasts

Combine pecans and cornflakes in a shallow bowl. Combnine honey and soy sauce in a shallow bowl. Divide chicken into 2 to 3 serving pieces. Dip chicken into honey mixture, then into pecan mixture. Bake on a sprayed baking pan for 6 to 10 minutes on each side at 425 F. or until done.


Broiled Tomatoes

Rather than halve the tomatoes, we sliced them thickly.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
3 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tomatoes, halved horizontally (or sliced thickly)

Preheat broiler.

Combine olive oil, vinegar, basil, bay leaves, garlic and salt in a casserole dish. Stir until well combined.

Place tomato halves cut-sides-down directly on greased broiler pan. Broil until they start to char and blister, about 4 minutes. Using tongs or a satula and spoon, carefully turn tomatoes over and broil 2 minutes more.

Remove cooked tomatoes from heat and place cut-sides-up in the dish with oil and vinegar mixture. Spoon some of the mixture over tomatoes. Set aside to marinate at least 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature.

Reference Links

http://e-mealz.com

http://www.relishmag.com/recipes/view/23253/broiled-tomatoes-in-basil.html

Recipe adapted from Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, http://www.gibbs-smith.com, 2006).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Baked Tilapia

Baked Tilapia


This easy recipe for tilapia only takes a few minutes to prepare, uses few ingredients, and is flavorful. I used fresh broccoli, and substituted lemon juice for the lemon slices. Next time I will use more Old Bay Seasoning. I also splashed some red wine vinegar on it just before serving. Turned out pretty tasty!

  • 4 (4 ounce) fillets tilapia
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen cauliflower with broccoli and red pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Place the tilapia fillets in the bottom of the baking dish and dot with butter. Season with Old Bay seasoning and garlic salt. Top each one with a slice or two of lemon. Arrange the frozen mixed vegetables around the fish, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cover the dish and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until vegetables are tender and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Source: http://allrecipes.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dandelion Frittata

Dandelion Frittata

Preheat a dash of olive oil in a skillet at medium heat. Gather fresh dandelion blossoms, free from lawn spray or herbicide. Rinse in cold water and drain.

Stir in a couple eggs, or more if needed, to make a thick, soupy mix.

Fry until brown, turning once, seasoning as desired. I like salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

Top with salsa and sour cream or ranch dressing. Enjoy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Beef Taco Skillet

Beef Taco Skillet

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 can (10 ounces) tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 flour tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  1. Cook beef in skillet until well browned, stirring to break up meat. Pour off fat.
  2. Stir in soup, salsa, water and tortillas. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for five minutes. Stir. Top with cheese. Makes four servings.

Creamy Mexican Fiesta: Stir in 1/2 cup sour cream.

Ranchero Style: Use corn tortillas instead of flour, and shredded Mexican cheese blend instead of Cheddar.

Note: To make a low-carbohydrate version, I fried the tortilla pieces separately in a bit of olive oil, adding salt, pepper, garlic/onion powder and minced onion. In a separate bowl, spoon some of the cooked sauce over the fried torilla pieces for anyone who wants tortillas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Catch-of-the-Day Chowder

Catch-of-the-Day Chowder

My notes say this recipe is by Bill Cleghorn. I don't know Bill, and I don't know how I ended up with his recipe, but I'm in his debt. Thanks, Bill!

  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups cream (half & half)
  • 1 pound fish, cubed (or any seafood combination)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup clam juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cover and cook celery, onions, and potatoes in water for 10 minutes. Add fish and cook 10 minutes longer. Blend flour and clam juice, add to vegetable/fish mixture. Stir until bubbly. Add cream, butter, salt, and pepper, heat thoroughly.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cashew Milk

Cashew Milk

Just a few of the benefits of nature's vitamin pill, cashews:

  • Five grams of protein per ounce
  • High levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese
  • Less fat than almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans
  • Zero cholesterol
  • Naturally anti-bacterial

Cashew Milk

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 4 cups water
  • Honey to taste

Blend all together.

Reference Links

http://organiccashewnuts.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

Breadsticks

Breadsticks

An easy, quick way to add baked bread to a meal.

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. Add remaining ingredients and rest of water and mix well. Let rest 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 F. Pour 1/4 cup butter into pan, stretch dough to fit and cover with remaining butter. Season to taste, cut into strips, and let rest for 15 minutes. Bake for 12 minutes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bannock Bread

Bannock Bread

Simple breads are my weakness. Bannock bread exemplifies the essence of my enjoyment of simple cooking. It represents independence, self-reliance, and survival skills. Healthy and easy to prepare...you can't beat it!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup water

Mix dry stuff. Cut in shortening. Add water, knead 15 minutes. Grease skillet, press dough into skillet, cook 10 minutes over low heat, turn. Cook 10 more minutes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Banana-Nut Muffins

Banana-Nut Muffins

Simple, basic, and a good way to use up that last banana that no one wants to eat!

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup banana (mashed)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (chopped)

Mix, bake in greased pan 15 minutes at 400 F.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ginger Tea

Ginger Tea

Join me as I make some fresh ginger tea!

First, I'll gather my utensils and raw ingredients.

My ginger is peeled and still frozen. I like to peel it as soon as I get it. Then, I'll quickly rinse it in cold water, put it in a plastic container, and place it in the freezer. Even frozen, fresh ginger is easy to slice and grate, and it will stay fresh for weeks.

My little two-cup glass teapot and infuser are clean and ready for action.

I use a small plastic container equipped with a grater. If I grate more than I need, I can leave it in the container, stick it in the freezer, and use it another day.

I'll set my teapot full of water over medium heat for about 15 minutes while I let the ginger slightly thaw. (I've always got something useful to do that will take 15 minutes or so.)

Today, I'll grate just a couple of tablespoonfuls of ginger.

I don't measure the ginger...quantity doesn't seem to be critical. 15 minutes thaw time is quite adequate. I can actually grate the frozen ginger immediately out of the freezer, but five or ten minutes of sitting out on the counter does make it easier.

After grating, the left-over ginger root can be refrozen...seems to be just fine over the course of several weeks. I haven't a clue how long you can keep frozen ginger...I'll use up a half-pound of root within three weeks, drinking a cup or two, three or four times a week.

Fresh ginger, however, does not seem to last long. I peeled, rinsed, and grated a root, placed it in the refrigerator and then did not use it. After a week it was flavorless and rank.

Even worse was the time I let ginger tea sit in my teapot for a couple of days. It smelt terrible! I can't even begin to describe it, perhaps a very strong rotten fish smell? Anyway, use it or freeze it!

Here's a close up of the grated ginger.

When I take a spoonful, I'm careful not to pack it densely or mash it. I simply spoon it out, fluffy consistency that it has. My rule of thumb is a spoonful of ginger per cup (drinking cup, not measuring cup). This ratio seems to work for coffee as well, whether ground or whole bean. When I make coffee in my four-cup drip coffee maker, I grind four tablespoons of whole beans (I actually measure this with a genyoowine tablespoon...I'm a picky coffee-drinker). The four tablespoons of beans grinds out to be about four tablespoons of ground coffee (Fancy that! I'll bet there's a physics theorem at the foot of that discovery!) Four cups (drinking cups-worth) of water will drip through four tablespoons (real tablespoons-worth) of ground coffee and make four cups (small drinking cups-worth) of good coffee, which I pour into my favorite mug (which holds it all).

Anyway, that's another post.

Back to ginger tea.

Put two spoonfuls of grated fresh ginger into the infuser of your teapot.

I've frequently read of herbal tea enthusiasts who denigrate the use of an infuser, or they use it as a strainer AFTER they let the tea steep loosely in the teapot. They argue that herbal tea requires a lot of contact with the hot water, and an infuser will tend to keep the herbs packed too tightly together to allow good water circulation.

I do agree with this idea, and I've used it lately, especially with fresh herbs. It takes a relatively big boat-load of leaves to make a decent tasting herbal tea. Dried herbs might be a different matter...the dried herbs are smaller and more concentrated.

However, for today's tea, the two spoonfuls of fresh ginger seem mighty small as it hunkers in the depths of my two-cup teapot. Putting the ginger in the infuser first will make straining it out later extremely easy.

I've filled my teapot to the brim of the infuser with near-boiling water. (Why NEAR-BOILING? I'm not sure...perhaps there's a radical jump in temperature or stability when water boils? Perhaps it begins to lessen the oxygen content? Is there a chance it will go into an uncontrollable fusion reaction? America really needs to know these things!)

Put the lid on, set it on a hotpad, and let it steep for about 10 minutes.



After 10 minutes, remove the lid and infuser, straining out the ginger, and now we have a freshly brewed potful of fresh ginger tea!

For hot tea, I like to add a spoonful of sweetening. For stronger tea, let the ginger steep longer. Strong ginger tea is more medicinal in taste and effect. For relaxing, a ten-minute steeping time is just right for me.

As a cold drink, fresh ginger tea is almost unbeatable! Add sweetening and ice or let it cool in the refrigerator. A terrific combination is ginger tea with flavored green tea. My favorite maker of instant flavored green tea is Arizona Beverage Company. They make some killer Pomegranate Green Tea iced tea stix, sugar free, sweetened with Splenda. (Great website, too! Nice, non-pop rock and jazz streaming in the background, with a mini-player showing playlist info, previous song and advance.)

Add one 3-gram packet of powdered green tea mix to a glassful (17 ounces) of cold, fresh ginger tea.

Today, I'm in the process of making a big batch of ginger tea that we'll keep refrigerated for the next week or so. When I want a refreshingly tangy drink, I can tap the cold ginger tea and add some powdered green tea. Instant re-fresh!

Reference Links

If you buy a dedicated teapot, it will probably come with an infuser. This is a small basket-shaped filter with an edge that rests on top of the teapot while the basket hangs down into the teapot. Keep this. You'll need it, but not for it's intended use.

If used as intended, you would place your tea in the infuser, place the infuser in the teapot, then add the water. When the steeping time was up, you would simply pull out the infuser, leaving leaf-free tea behind. But it doesn't work well. Why? Because:

There's not enough room in the infuser for the tea to properly steep. Tea is like pasta. It needs room to spread out. The water needs to circulate around and between the leaves. An infuser doesn't let this occur. Even if it looks large enough, given your quantity of tea, keep in mind that, as the tea absorbs water, it'll increase in size. Trust me. The infuser isn't big enough.

The infuser hangs from the top. If you're making less than a full pot of tea, the infuser won't be completely submerged. Which will leave even less room for proper steeping.

So, why keep it? Because it makes an excellent strainer for straining out the leaves after the steeping is all done.

Source: How To Make Tea

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Baked Apple French Toast

Can anyone say "decadent"?

  • 3 large cooking apples
  • 6 ounces Nuefchatel cheese
  • 10 slices bread
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3-1/2 cup milk
  • Cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°.

Core and thinly slice apples. Melt butter in saucepan, add brown sugar and 1 tbsp water. Add apple slices, cook 3 minutes, stirring. Pour into greased 9x13 pan.

Cut cheese into cubes, spread over apples. Cut bread slices diagonally in half, layer over cheese. Beat together egg whites, eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over bread. Sprinkle cinnamon.

Bake 40-50 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Amish Friendship Bread

Prepare the starter at least ten days before you plan to bake or share. Not the easiest way to make bread, but it's simple!

Starter: Day 1

  • 1 package active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup white sugar, divided
  • 1 cup milk

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a 2 quart container glass, plastic or ceramic container, combine flour and sugar. Mix thoroughly or flour will lump when milk is added. Slowly stir in milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Cover loosely and let stand until bubbly. Consider this day 1 of the 10 day cycle. Leave loosely covered at room temperature.

  • Day 2: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 3: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 4: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 5; stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.
  • Day 6: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 7: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 8: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 9: stir starter with a spoon.
  • Day 10: follow the directions below.

Stir in 1-1/2 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1-1/2 cups milk. Mix well. Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into four 1-gallon Ziploc® bags. Give three bags to friends, along with a copy of the recipe. Keep one cup of starter for yourself in a container in the refrigerator, or begin the 10 day process over again (beginning with step 2).

Yields: 4 servings

Adapted from a recipe submitted by: Ginger McKenney, published by Allrecipes.com 12/15/2007

Amish Friendship Bread

- Mix in glass or plastic bowl...do not use metal. - Use wooden or plastic spoon...do not use metal. - Store at room temperature...do not refrigerate. - If air gets into the bag, let it out. - It is normal for the batter to rise, bubble, and ferment!

Begin with 1 cup starter in a 1-gallon Ziploc® bag:

  • Day 1: do nothing.
  • Day 2: mush the bag.
  • Day 3: mush the bag.
  • Day 4: mush the bag.
  • Day 5: mush the bag.
  • Day 6: add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk and mush the bag.
  • Day 7: mush the bag.
  • Day 8: mush the bag.
  • Day 9: mush the bag.
  • Day 10: mush the bag and follow the directions below.

Pour contents of the bag into a glass or plastic bowl. Add 1-1/2 cups flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1-1/2 cups milk and mix well. Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into four 1-gallon Ziploc® bags. Give three bags to friends, along with a copy of this recipe for Amish Friendship Bread. Keep one cup of starter for yourself in a container in the refrigerator, or begin the 10 day process over again (beginning with step 2). With the remaining batter in your bowl, follow the directions below:

Preheat oven to 325°

Add:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 large instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Grease 2 large pans, dust with mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon. Pour the batter evenly into the pans and sprinkle the remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture over the top. Bake for 45-60 minutes (30 minutes for muffins). Cool until bread loosens from pan.

Enjoy!

Source: Roxanne Berger, November 30, 2007

Almond Crunch Cereal

Good cold cereal for the morning or for "Hi-Energy Bars".

  • 3 cups uncooked, old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or soy grits
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup slivered, blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 225°. Combine oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds. Separately combine honey and oil. Add to dry ingredents until well-mixed. Add cold water a little at a time mixing until crumbly. Pour mixture into baking pan lightly brushed with oil. Bake at 225° for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes. Add almonds, bake 30 minutes more until thoroughly dry and light brown, feeling crispy to the touch. Add raisins when the cereal is cool.

Hi-Energy Bar

  • 2 cups Almond Crunch Cereal (see above)
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten

Preheat oven to 300°. Combine cereal and eggs. spread on lightly-oiled cookie sheet, about 6" x 8" x 1/4" thick, pressing firmly. Cut into bars 1 1/2" x 2". Bake 20 minutes.

All-In-One Hot Dish

This is a favorite at our house...it seems it never comes out wrong. The epitome of what I aim for in selecting recipes: easy, quick, delicious! The only pre-made ingredient is the soup, and after growing up with canned soup, it's like a staple!

  • 1 lb raw hamburger
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • Celery, several stalks, chopped
  • Carrots, several, sliced
  • Potatoes, several, sliced
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 can creamed mushroom soup

Layer each ingredient in a casserole dish, two-quart or larger. top with 1 can tomatoes and 1 can of creamed mushroom soup. Bake at 350° for 2 hours.