Friday, October 31, 2014

Keeping Cut Flowers Fresher



Everyone, especially women, love cut flowers but they just don't last very long.  Well, in my roaming I ran across a way to keep them fresh longer.  And yes, this came from the Grandparent site.


When you cut a flower from its roots, you're separating it from its water and food source. The water part is easy—throw that blossom in a vase! But without resorting to store-bought plant food, how do you feed it? According to Scientific American, lemon-lime soda is a near-perfect solution. Slightly acidic water travels more quickly up plant stems than neutral or basic water, giving flowers a boost of hydration. Plus, one can of 7up or Sprite contains 38 grams of sugar, providing nutrients the flower needs. For the proper ratio, horticulturists recommend 1 to 3 cans of water to every can of soda. Note: Sugar also makes the vase water a friendly breeding ground for bacteria. Keep bacteria at bay by adding a few drops of bleach to the vase solution.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Great Ideas for the Holidays!

I'm sure some of you receive Better Homes and Gardens updates through your email but I'm also sure some of you don't.  I'm also sure, if you're like me, you scan over and only pay attention to those things that catch your attention.  Well, this one caught mine.  These are some of the best holiday ideas I've seen in a long time and I just had to share.  I picked out 4 of my favorites but there are many more so go to the Better Homes and Gardens site and see these beautiful ideas.


Wrap Up Store-Bought Grocery Items to Give as Gifts
The shelves at the grocery store are filled with store-bought items that make quick and easy gift ideas. To make this cake mix gift, simply wrap your favorite mix in a Christmas-theme fabric (or table runner!); sew or hot-glue closed. Add handles by sewing or hot-gluing ribbon to package, and attach small bags of decorations for a finishing touch.


Use Ice Cream Cones to Turn Cupcakes into Christmas Trees
Create the perfect Christmas cupcake with our tannenbaum design. The secret to the leafy topping? Place an ice cream cone upside down atop your snowy white-frosted cupcakes, then pipe green frosting to the cone for the leaves. Carefully add edible pearl candies for ornaments.

Ease Guests' Stay with a Basket of Treats
Keep overnight holiday guests satisfied by preempting their stomach growl. Ease your guests' stay by filling a small basket for their room with snacks such as granola bars, dried fruit, trail mix, and chocolates.

Label Christmas Gifts with Family Pictures

Add a little extra festive cheer to your gifts by using family snapshots in the place of name tags. Simply print digital photos on white cardstock, cut into decorative shapes, and attach to your presents.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Fiber



(Info from Weight Watchers cookbook 1993)

What is dietary fiber?
It is the indigestible parts of plant-derived foods - fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.  Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs and fats do not contain dietary fiber.

What's the difference between insoluble and soluble fiber?
Insoluble fiber (some good sources are wheat brand and pears) provides "bulk" to move food through the digestive tract, keeping constipation at bay; insoluble fiber may also protect against some types of cancer.  Soluble fiber (oats, beans, and oranges are good sources) helps lower blood cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.  Most foods contain some of each type of fiber.

Can I "overdose" on fiber?
Yes.  If you increase your fiber intake too quickly, you may suffer bloating and cramps.  Add fiber to your diet gradually, and drink plenty of water.

Can't I just take a pill?
Most fiber pills have little fiber in them, and do not contain a good balance of the different types of fiber.  You're much better off consuming a variety of foods, form which you'll also reap a bounty of vitamins, minerals, and eating pleasure.

How can I get the most fiber form foods?
Eat fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes) with their skins, and opt for the whole food rather than juice.  Choose whole grain cereal, bread, pasta, and flour over refined grain products.

How does food preparation affect fiber content? 
Cutting, chopping, cooking and freezing has no significant effect on fiber content.  However, sieving and straining foods will remove some fiber.

Will a bran muffin a day do the trick?
No.  Many "bran" muffins contain negligible amounts of fiber.  Their main ingredients are usually white flour and sugar.  The label of a truly high-fiber muffin will list bran or whole-grain flour as its first ingredient.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chicken Cheese Spread




When I cook chicken I always cook a little extra to use in making chicken salad.  This time I wanted to try something different so I came up with my Chicken Cheese Spread.  These are the ingredients I used.


Chicken, cooked
Sour Cream
Laughing Cow
Mayo
Shredded cheddar cheese
Mrs. Dash salt free seasoning


I put the chicken, about 1 1/2 cups chopped, in a food processor and pulsed it until it was ground.  I added about 1/4 cup of sour cream and 3 Laughing Cow pats and gave it a taste.  It needed something so I added about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and enough mayo to make it smooth and spreadable but not thin.  Still needed something.  That's when I started adding the Mrs. Dash.  I would give it a shake, mix and taste until I had added about 1/2 tsp.  PERFECT!  My consistency came out thick enough to form into a ball if I wanted but thin enough to spread on a cracker. 


Comment:  You can add any seasoning you might like but I suggest you put it all together as I did, tasting as I went along until I had the flavor that fit my taste.  Apparently it fit a couple of my food testers taste too because the loved it.  If you want to get fancy and take this to a party you could roll it in chopped nuts, chopped parsley, and maybe even chopped chives.  Just Think With Your Taste Buds to create your own blend.



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Almond Buttery Pound Cupcakes



As I always say, Think With Your Taste Buds, and that is exactly what I did when I wanted to make some cupcakes for a friend.  I remembered how good my Cream Cheese Butter Pound Cake turned out so I decided to make few simple changes and turn it into Almond Buttery Pound Cakes.  I made the recipe just as it is with the exception of using almond flavoring instead of vanilla.  I also used mini-muffin tins for cooking which changed the cooking time to 18 minutes.  This makes approximately 96 mini-cupcakes!  You can use the regular size and add about 10 - 15 minutes to the time, checking them using a toothpick to about every 5 minutes.

The other change I made was to add an icing.  I used 1 box (1 lb.) powdered sugar, 1/4 stick of butter, softened, 4 oz. of softened cream cheese and 1 tsp. of the Almond flavoring.  Mix all of this until smooth and spread on your mini-cupcakes adding a few almond slivers for garnish.  Are these good?  You bet they are.  The butter and cream cheese make the cake part stand out and the slight flavor of the almonds in the icing add just the perfect touch.

Hopefully this will give you ideas for using basic recipes like this one to get you Thinking With Your Taste Buds.

Friday, October 3, 2014

So Beautiful!



No this isn't a food but it was too beautiful to let slip by and not share with my cooking friends.  If you're from the south you may recognize this picture.  I have to admit that I am from the south and if I had seen this without seeing the tree it came from I 'might' have guessed what it is but then again I 'might' not have.

While walking my baby Jesse we walked under a beautiful Magnolia tree.  Most of us have seen the beautiful white flowers produced by the Magnolia but have you ever really looked at the pots?  I hate to admit it but I haven't, that is unless they are on the ground and need to be raked up.  I never knew they were fuzzy.  I never knew they were pink.  Well, this beautiful picture is of a Magnolia Pod.

Enjoy!  And next time you walk by a tree of any kind, stop as I did and take just a little time to really look at its beauty.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Easy Watering Fix While You're Away





Why ask a friend to water your plants when you're out of town, when all you need to create your own automatic plant watering system is paper towel and a glass? According to Liz Foreman of HouseLogic.com (who heard of this trick from Lifehacker.com), the process is simple: Tightly roll a few sheets of paper towel (we suggest using a sturdy brand) at a diagonal to create a thick rope. Then place one end of your paper towel rope all the way into a glass of water, and drape the other end across the soil, a few inches from the plant. The paper towel sucks the water from the glass and deposits it at an even rate on the soil. Watering for a few days: done.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Worcestershire Sauce



Nearly 100 ingredients are processed to make Worcestershire Sauce.  Some of them are red onions, cloves, hot chilies, anchovies, garlic, tamarinds, and shallots.  The sauce is not cooked, but is aged in wooden casks up to two years.  After aging, it is then strained and pasteurized.

Use Worcestershipe Sauce to season tomato sauces, beverages, and soups.  Use in meat marinades, in sauces for meats and vegetables, and in soups.  Add to butter-garlic mixture for garlic bred.  Use in cheese spreads, appetizer dips, barbecue sauce, snack mixes, and gravies, or sprinkle over popcorn.

Storage - store in cabinet or pantry no longer than one year for peak quality.  Shake well before using, as ingredients settle in the bottle.

Worcestershire Round Steak

1 can (16 oz.) tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine or beer
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 boneless beef round steak (about 2 lbs.)

Mix tomato sauce, wine, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, brown sugar, and pepper.  Pour over steak in shallow glass baking dish.  Refrigerate, covered, 4 hours or overnight; drain, reserving marinade.

Grill or broil steak to desired degree of doneness; heat marinade and serve with steak.  4 - 6 servings.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Horseradish



Available as a fresh root, horseradish can be dried minced or prepared and bottled.  Prepared horseradish is a mixture of finely grated horseradish root and vinegar.

Add grated fresh or prepared horseradish to melted butter; serve over grilled or broiled steak or chops.  Fold horseradish into whipped cream and serve as a condiment with roast meats.  Use to season salad dressings and sauces for seafood and meat.  Mix with applesauce to serve with roast pork or ham.  Use also in pickles and relishes.

Storage - fresh root can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks; unopened and bottled prepared horseradish in a cabinet or pantry one year; opened, in a refrigerator on year; dried flakes in a cabinet or pantry up to one year.

Seafood Cocktail with Horseradish Sauce

1 pkg (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream or sour half-and-half
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
12 ounces cooked, flaked fish fillets or shelled, deveined shrimp
Shredded lettuce

Beat cream cheese in small bowl until fluffy; beat in sour cream, mayonnaise, horseradish, sugar and dill weed.  Refrigerate several hours for flavors to blend.  Arrange seafood on lettuce on plates or in cocktail dishes; spoon sauce over.  4 - 6 servings.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Ginger



Ginger is the root stalk of a tropical plant.  Available as a fresh root, powdered, preserved, or crystallized, it has a sweet, fragrant aroma.  Ginger root does not have to be peeled before using.

Use to flavor tea, adding a strip of lemon or orange.  Use in salad dressings for fruit and poultry, in marinades, sauces, chutnies, jams, cookies, and cakes.  Rub onto beef or pork roasts before cooking them.  Add to mashed carrots, sweet potatoes, or acorn squash.  Combine with cinnamon and nutmeg in cooking desserts.

Storage - fresh ginger root can be stored up to four weeks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or cut into chunks, covered with dry sherry in a jar, and refrigerated.  An unopened jar of preserved ginger, and dried, powder, or crystallized ginger in jars can be stored in a cabinet or pantry up to one year for optimum quality; refrigerate an opened jar of preserved ginger.

Baked Trout with Ginger Sauce

4 whole dressed trout (about 10 oz. each)
1/3 cup catsup
1/3 cup sugar
3 - 4 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. soy sauce
4 thinly sliced green onions and tops

Arrange fish in baking dish.  Heat remaining ingredients, except onions, to boiling in saucepan; stir in onions and spoon over fish.  Bake at 350 degrees until fish is tender and flakes with a fork, 20 - 25 minutes.  Serves 4

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Curry



Curry powder is a combination of many spices.  It may have as few as 5 ingredients or as many as 40 or 50.  Turmeric is probably the most common base.  Other ingredients can be ginger, coriander, caraway, cayenne pepper, cumin, fenugreek, dill, mace, cardamon, cloves, allspice, anise, bay leaves, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, poppy seeds, saffron, mint, and juniper berries.

Curry is used in Indian cuisine and a part of the cooking in Indonesia, Malaysia, Jamaica, and West Africa.

Curries can be mild or hot - even extra hot.  Rub onto meats; use in stews, sauces for meats and vegetables, appetizer dips, soups, egg dishes, meat or fish salad mixtures, marinades for meat and poultry, melted butter for vegetables, bread stuffing, and rice casseroles.

Storage - Curry can be stored in a covered jar in a cabinet or pantry up to one year for maximum quality.

Curried Rice with Fruit

2 cups cooked rice
1 cup mixed fried fruit, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. curry powder
Grated nutmeg

Mix all ingredients except nutmeg in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until hot through; spoon into serving bowl and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Serve with lamb, pork, ham, or chicken.  4 servings.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Peach Pudding



A friend brought me some peaches that needed to be used within a couple days so I came up with an idea.  I love Banana Pudding and I love Peaches and Cream so why not make Peach Pudding.  I used my regular Banana Pudding recipe (the kind you cook from scratch) but instead of using bananas I used peaches.  OMGoodness!  This is so good.  It isn't too sweet and you get the slight tartness from the peaches.  I did make one mistake, that wasn't really a mistake but something I would change the next time I make this.  I didn't cook my pudding quite long enough.  It turned out just a little thin and due to this the vanilla wafers softened but their softening they thickened the pudding.  Even so, this dish is delicious.  Now I want to make Strawberry Pudding!  And maybe Pineapple Pudding!  And maybe Cherry Pudding!  Need I add more?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Cloves



Available as whole or ground, cloves are the dried buds of the tropical clove tree, a relative of the myrtle family, which grown in the West Indies and Africa.  The buds are first white, then green, then red.  After they are picked and dried, they turn a dark, reddish brown.  In small quantities, cloves have an aromatic, sweet flavor.  In larger quantities, the flavor becomes quite hot.  Freshly ground cloves provide the most pungent flavor.

Use whole or ground cloves in sweet beverages (mulled cider or wine, fruit punch), in cakes and cookies, and in glazes and sauces for pork and ham.  Also use in chutneys, preserves, pickled fruits, candies, and puddings.  Mix ground cloves and brown sugar or honey into softened butter; serve over beets, carrots, or baked sweet potatoes.  Cloves also are often combined with other spices in baked goods and beverages.

Storage - cloves can be stored in a tightly closed jar in a cabinet or pantry one year for optimum quality.


Clove-Spiced Cider

24 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken
4 whole allspice
2 whole cardamom
1 quart apple cider or juice

Tie spices in small piece of cheesecloth; add to cider in medium saucepan.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove spice bag.  Serve hot, or refrigerate and serve chilled.  8 servings of 1/2 cup each.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Resque




Just a reminder for those of you who love to cook, don't forget to check out my book store Book Resque.  I add books daily so the choice is always changing.  Some are old, some are new.  Some are cookbooks, some are even comic books.  Some are educational, some are Very Vintage dating back into the 1800s.  But all are priced low. 


Most of my books are rescued from thrift stores, yard sales, and Estate sales.  I buy as cheaply as possible so I can pass them on to you at an affordable price. 


Each book shows it's own shipping price but when you order 2 or more the shipping weight is combined and the cost will be for the combined weight, not the individual item weight.  


So, check out the site and see how many books you might like to adopt and rescue from the recycle center.

Oh yeah.  Now and then I run across items other than books that need to be rescued so don't be surprised if you spot stamps, lighters, and other old but odd items listed.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Caraway Seeds



The black crescent-shaped seeds from the fruit of the herb known as Carum Carvi, which grows in northern and central Europe and Asia and now in America, are the caraway seeds.  Each fruit form the plant has two halves, and each half contains a caraway seed, when used as a seasoning, provides an aromatic addition to many foods and blends of teas.  Caraway seeds can be used whole, or they can be crushed to release more aroma and flavor.

Add crushed or whole seed to rye and other breads, sauerkraut, applesauce, salads, cole slaw, potatoes, onions, cabbage, cheese spread and sauces, and cottage cheese.  Rub crushed caraway seed onto the surface of beef, lamb, veal or pork before cooking; add it to stews.

Storage - Caraway seed stored in a covered jar in a cabinet or pantry will retain full flavor up to one year.

Caraway Bagels

1 loaf frozen rye bread dough, thawed
2 quarts water
Spicy brown mustard
1 Tbsp. caraway seed
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

Place dough in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Let stand, covered in warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down dough.  Dive dough into 10 equal pieces.  Roll 1 piece dough on lightly floured surface to form strip about 1" long; bring ends together to form bagel shape.  Moisten ends and seal.  Repeartwith remaining pieces.  Let stand on floured surface 15 minutes.

Heat water to boiling in large saucepan.  Place bagels in water, 2 to 3 at a time; boil 30 seconds.  Drain on paper toweling.  Place bagels on greased cookie sheet.  Brush bagels generously with mustard; sprinkle with caraway seed and salt.  Bake at 400 degrees until golden, 15 - 2 minutes.  10 bagels.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Chicken



2 - 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
bacon
cheese dip
pretzels, crushed (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place a wrack in the bottom of a baking dish (spray both with non-stick).  Slice each of the chicken breasts into 3 equal strips (long)  Wrap each chicken strip in a slice of bacon.  Place on baking rack.  Bake strips about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked throughout.  Remove from rack.  Place in a baking dish sprayed with non-stick.  Pour enough of the cheese dip over each to cover.  Sprinkle with pretzels.  Bake 5-8 minutes or until cheese dip is hot.

Comments:  Somewhere I saw a recipe for bacon wrapped chicken strips but couldn't remember where so I decided to make my own.  My chicken strips were about 1" wide and one piece of bacon was plenty to wrap with.  Don't use pre-cooked bacon.  It will brown before the chicken is done.  For my cheese dip I used a jar of white cheese with peppers giving the dish another taste and the pretzels to add a crunch.  This turned out very well.  You could taste the bacon as well as the cheese and by cooking it on a rack the fat was able to drain making this a fairly healthy dish.  You can also put this in individual baking dishes, instead of one large baking dish, before adding the cheese.   I think Weight Watchers would love this one.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Didn't Know That - Black Pepper





Black pepper comes from the peppercorn, a fruit (or berry) which grows on a woody plant in the tropics.  As the peppercorn grows, first it is green, then it becomes red as it ripens, and turns black as it is dried.  Black pepper is made form dried peppercorn.  White pepper, which is milder, is the inner layer of the dried peppercorn. 


Black pepper is available whole, cracked, coarsely ground, or finely ground.  Used in small amounts, it is a mild seasoning; in large amounts, it has a predominant flavor.  Whole peppers, ground in a peppermill, provide freshly ground seasoning and a more pungent flavor.


Storage - whole and ground pepper kept in a tightly closed jar and stored in a cabinet or pantry will retain their full flavor up to one year.




Peppered Flank Steak


1 beef flank steak (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. whole peppercorns, crushed
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced.


Pound steak until even in thickness; score on both sides.  Mix peppercorns and remaining ingredients; spread over surface of steak.  Roll steak up, beginning at short end; fasten with wooden picks.  Broil steak 6" from heat source for 20 minutes, turning steak one-quarter turn every 5 minutes.  Slice to serve.  6 servings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Olive Oil and Its Uses



Another goodie form Grandparents

Almost every kitchen has a bottle of this gold-green elixir that can dress a salad or sauté vegetables, imparting heart-healthy fat in every teaspoon. But olive oil (regular or light, save expensive extra-virgin for flavoring food) can also help make dirty work a little easier:

Remove paint: Forget the harsh chemicals. To remove paint from your skin, just use olive oil and a little granulated sugar or salt. The paint will come off and your skin will be exfoliated and moisturized, too.

Take it outside!: Olive oil can help you do your yard work. Spritz it onto lawn mower blades in the summer to help keep grass from sticking, and onto snow shovels in the winter so that snow will slide off the shovel more easily. You can use it on other garden tools like hoes and rakes, too.

Polish leather shoes: No need to use that nasty-smelling chemical stuff. A little olive oil and a soft cloth will keep your shoes looking great.

Get gum out of hair: Apply the olive oil to the gum and the surrounding hair; work it through gently and let it sit for a few minutes. Work a comb through the strands until the gum is gone, then wash with shampoo.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Praying Mantis



This has nothing to do with food but I still had to share.  He/She was sitting on the hedge near my door.  It didn't seem to mind that I wanted to take its picture and would even turn its head to look at me while I took pictures.  This is the 1st one I've ever seen this close and I was surprised at its size.  I would estimate it at abut 5" from head to end of wings.  Below is a little information I found on the Praying Mantis.

The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong.

By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long "neck," or elongated thorax. Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.

Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, mantis lie in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.

Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate recipients of unwanted mantid attention. However, the insects will also eat others of their own kind. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.

Females regularly lay hundreds of eggs in a small case, and nymphs hatch looking much like tiny versions of their parents.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Aspirin Uses


Yes, another Grandparent article. Aspirin - and you thought it was only good for headaches (well, I did too).

Though willow bark has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain and inflammation, it wasn't until 1897 that a German chemist was able to modify its active ingredient – salicin – to create acetylsalicylic acid, which is gentler on stomachs and the basis of modern aspirin. But this “miracle drug” can do more than treat a headache.

Uses:

Soften your feet: Remove calluses from your feet (or hands) with aspirin. Crush six to eight tablets and mix them with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice, and enough warm water to make a paste. Spread the paste on the calloused area, then wrap in a warm towel and cover with a plastic bag. Leave on for ten or fifteen minutes, then scrub with a pumice stone to remove the callous. (NOTE: Do not try this if you are diabetic or have impaired circulation.)


Make your plants healthier: Aspirin may just be a gardener’s best friend. A solution of one aspirin in a gallon of water can help plants that have been traumatized by moving or replanting to recover, and can help new plants to develop strong root systems. Or add a little mild, liquid soap to the aspirin water and spray it on plant leaves to discourage pests. (The soap will keep the solution from just rolling off the plant.)