Archive for June, 2010

I love kiwi’s, not only are they delicious but they contain as much potassium as a banana, are packed with vitamin C and rich in Vitamin A and E.  This not even mentioning their black seeds are full of important Omega-3.   Kiwi’s also have been found to be beneficial in improving conditions of Asthmatic children and decreasing possibility of colon cancer through introduction of dietary fibers.

When I came upon 50 kiwi’s for sale at Krogers on their discounted fruit shelf for .99 cents I could not pass the buy.  To many these Kiwi’s would probably be unpicked from the actual display due to they are not “pretty”.  One interesting fact about Kiwi’s, when you get the firmer looking “perfect” ones.  They are under ripe.  A ripe kiwi will have a shriveled appearance to their flesh.  I was pleased to find I didn’t need to throw out a single one.

Kiwi’s are excellent dried into chips like other fruits.  Simply peel, slice and place in dehydrator with full vent for one to two days until dry-leather stage.  They make a wonderful healthy snack.

From the bag I filled four of six racks of my dehydrator with chips.  Reserved some for fresh use and indulged in eating at least one.

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There is only one word for this desert, sinful.  While it is not “easy” to make it is worth the effort.

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

2 cups sifted cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 squares unsweetened chocolate

2/3 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup butter, room temperature

3 eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

Chocolate Fudge Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans (Square or round)

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda together in bowl. In sauce pan or double boiler, combine chocolate, water , 1/2 cup sugar and cook over low heat stirring constantly until chocolate becomes smooth and thick.  Transfer to another bowl and chill in ice water then add vanilla to chocolate. In third bowl beat together butter and remaining sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at time then blend in chilled chocolate. Add the flour mixture altering it with buttermilk.  Beat until nice and smooth and pour into cake pans.

Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  When cool, cut cake in half.  Layer cake, filling, cake.

Chocolate Fudge Filling

6 squares semisweet chocolate

3 tbsp butter

7 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

In small saucepan, add chocolate and butter. Cook over low heat until melted.  In bowl, add melted chocolate, milk, vanilla and stir until well blended. Add in confectioner’s sugar and mix until filling is smooth and easily spreadable. Use this to frosting entire cake as well.

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz dark chocolate

1 cup heavy cream

Cut chocolate into 1/4 inch pieces.  Place in medium heatproof bowl and bring cream to boil in small saucepan over medium heat.  Immediately pour boiling cream over chocolate and stir to get all chocolate into the cream. Let sit 1 minute then slowly stir in circular motion.  Stir until all chocolate is melted (2 minutes).  Let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or refrigerate for 2 hours.  Place in Ziploc baggy with corner cut off and squeeze into designs on top of your cake.

Can finish garnish with shredded chocolate if you so desire.

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I love homemade breakfast sausage and it is amazingly easy to make.  I make mine up in large batches and freeze using the following recipes increased to my personal needs. While the ones I made today are Maple Breakfast Sausage, I also make Regular and Hot styles to stock my freezer.  I do precook the sausage before freezing as it’s easier to just grab and reheat on busy days.  This step is not needed and you can freeze the raw patties just as easily or if you are lucky enough to have a sausage stuffer make sausage links using the same recipes.

Regular Breakfast Sausage

16 oz ground pork or turkey

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp each: Sage, pepper, thyme, red pepper, coriander and Accent.

Hot Breakfast Sausage

16 oz ground pork/sausage

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp each sage, pepper, red pepper, coriander and Accent.

Maple Breakfast Sausage

16 oz ground pork/turkey

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp coriander and Accent

Brown Sugar and Honey Breakfast Sausage

16 oz ground pork/turkey

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp coriander and Accent

**Hint, for more unified looking patties. Spread the raw mix in a cake pan lined with wax paper and place in freezer to “stiffen”. Then using a biscuit cutter cut into desired size patties.**

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In this house, peanut butter cookies are a staple that forever fill the cookie jar.  They freeze and thaw so well that knowing my cooking time will be pressed I will make huge patches and freeze between layers of wax paper into 2 dozen sets to refill the jar when supply is running low.

Peanut Butter Cookies  (2 dozen)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup backed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy *I used crunchy*)

1 egg

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Cream butter 2 minutes and add sugars, cream an additional 2 minutes.  Mix in peanut butter and egg then add dry ingredients.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F .  Shape dough into balls roughly 1 1/4 inches.  Place about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet and flatten with fork into a criss-cross pattern.  You can also make this pattern after they are baked and kids love to be able to do this process.  Bake 9-10 minutes or until light brown.  Let cool on baking sheets before transferring to cooling rack.

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Snickerdoodles have been around since at least the early 1900’s and passed down from generation to generation, yet these simple to make cookies are often overlooked little gems.  There are several recipes for Snickerdoodles found all across the web, but the way I make mine is as follows:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

1 1/2 cup white sugar

2 3/4 cup flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt


2 tbsp white sugar

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)

Cream butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cup sugar, eggs and vanilla together and blend in flour, cream of tarter, soda and salt.  Shape into rounded spoonful balls.  If to sticky to form into balls refrigerate dough for 1 to 2 hours.  (I make large batches and spread them into wax paper lined baking sheets, place the sheets in refrigerator overnight and then next day cut with flour dusted pizza cutter into 1 inch squares.)

Mix together 2 tbsp sugar and cinnamon and either roll the balls in the mixture or dip the top (if making the squares).  Place 2 inches apart on un-greased baking sheets and bake 8-10 minutes or until set but not to hard.  Remove immediate to cooling racks.

Recipe makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.

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I am a huge advocate of freezer meals, not only are they cheaper then buying TV dinners and fast food but also far better nutritionally for you.  Having run into a sale on breakfast sausages (No I didn’t make these though I added my own twist. I do normally make my own breakfast sausage patties) and chicken breasts I whipped up a few more meals to put into our freezer for those times when cooking a full meal just isn’t optional.

Honey and Brown Sugar Breakfast Sausages with Buckwheat Pancakes

These are just your basic breakfast links cooked in a mix of water with some honey and brown sugar added. Cook down until it caramelizes.  For the pancakes I just used a basic buckwheat premix.  To this I will add peaches or strawberries for the final serving.   20 of these went into the freezer plus another 20 with french toast (traditional bread, egg, milk style).

Honey & Orange Chicken Nuggets with Baked Beans, Carrots and Mashed Potatoes.

4 chicken breasts cut into “nuggets”. Marinade with 1/2 cup honey plus 1/2 cup fresh orange juice for 1 hour.  Pour 1 cup bread crumbs into ziploc baggy and add chicken nuggets, shake well to cover, use more bread crumbs if needed.  Fry in pan with bottom covered with oil (you need not drown these in oil).  Fry until golden brown and remove to paper towel. Let dry while preparing mix of 1/4 cup honey and 1/2 cup orange juice.  Drizzle over nuggets and let dry once more to create a “glaze” effect while holding crispy texture.

To these I added homemade baked beans, mashed potatoes and home canned carrots.  All that is missing is a fruit or dessert to end the meal.

Red Wine Glazed Chicken Tenders with Brown Rice and Mixed Vegetables.

4 chicken breasts cut into 2 or 3 pieces. 1 cup of red wine, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp thyme. Put into sauce pan and heat.  Pour over chicken in roaster pan and place in oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour.  Remove and put in skillet on top of stove, with sauce and cook to reduce and glaze chicken.

To this I added a simple brown rice and a mingling of mixed vegetables consisting of carrots, broccoli, summer squash, snow peas, regular peas, celery and red peppers diced.  Steam vegetables before placing in container and be sure rice holds some moisture as it will “dry” in reheating.

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I absolutely hate hurricanes.  When I first moved out of Houston proper to where I currently live I was told hurricanes never get up this far.  For several years they were right, the worse we got was a heavier rain storm then normal and some wind.  Then it seems we were nailed back to back with Rita and Ike both and I’m still trying to recover from the damage caused by those two to trees and fences.  Thankfully the house has remained untouched and I hope that continues to be the case.

Preparing for Hurricanes is always an ordeal.  One big thing is not knowing if you will need the supplies you stock up on, and worry if you don’t have them you will need them.  Then there is the matter of the pets, the horrific roads where you just can’t get out if you need to and last of all work because many of the elderly do not and will not evacuate during hurricanes and thus we need to be at their home if one hits if this is their choosing.

While this is my personal “emergency” kit for hurricanes, I am certain the same could apply to other things which might shut people off to supplies and modern conveniences as well.

1 generator – enough to run one air conditioner plus refrigerator/freezer

Battery operated radio

Hand crank charging weather/emergency radio

Can bright yellow spray paint (to signal help if roof stranded) (4 cans)

Extra set of keys

Flashlights (4)

Batteries (enough for 2 weeks) 30 packages total AAA, AA and C size

Cook stove or grill plus charcoal or propane   (10 bags charcoal plus 2 canisters propane)

Hand Ax  ( for breaking through roof if needed or chopping out of house or through downed trees)

Manual can opener (2)

Matches in waterproof container (3 boxes)

Antibacteria hand wash (4 containers)

Paper towels (32 rolls)

Portable toilet (or bucket style)

Toilet Paper (24 rolls)

Portable solar shower

Dish Soap (2 bottles)

Toothpaste (2 tubes)

Toothbrush (2 extra for each family member)

Deodorant (2)

Shampoo/Conditioner (1 lg bottle each)

Contact supplies (as I wear them)

Emergency Medical Kit (tylenol, benedryl, anti-itch cream, antibiotic cream, band-aids, gauze bandages, alcohol swabs, Q-tips, finger splints, ace bandages, anti-diarrhea, anti-nausea, anti-constipation medications, 2 week supply of all prescription medications, tweezers, small scissors, syringe and or bulb-tube dropper, cold medication, allergy medications.)

Kleenex (2 boxes)

Rubber gloves (hospital quality latex 2 boxes of 50 sets each),  thick yellow rubber 4 bags of 2 each)

Pet food, 2 weeks of feeding worth for ALL animals.

Pet liter, 2 weeks changing worth

Extra leash and collar per pet

Carriers for small animals and cages for large animals in case you find yourself outdoors

Signal flares

Pots and skillets for grill use (other words you don’t mind them getting a bit “charred”

20 -40 gallons water for showers, food prep, dish and emergency clothing washing.

Food supplies

Bottled water (for drinking) – 2 gallons per day per person for 2 week supply.

Powdered non-fat dry milk

Powdered drink mixes (Gatorade style)

2 weeks of canned goods to create meals (I can my own fruit, veggies. stews, soups, and meats…however meats such as tuna, salmon, chicken etc can be purchased also.)

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This household eats a lot of baked style beans or beans in general. Not only are they a wonderful meat substitute but they are a budget saver as well.

Ranch Beans

2 medium onions, chopped

2 tbsp water

1 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp mustard

16 oz can stewed tomatoes (or 1 can of canned tomatoes)

1 tbsp cider vinegar

2 cups of beans (kidney, black eye, navy, pinto)

1 cup bacon bits and ends cooked and crumbled (reserve 1/8 cup for top garnish later)

Soak beans night before to let them swell and soften.  Drain the next morning and place beans in pot on stove covered with water.  Cook over medium heat until the skins split when blown on.  Drain and put in roaster dish with other ingredients.  Mix well and put in stove at 350 degrees, stirring occasionally, for at least 1 hour (the longer they are allowed to “stew” the better the flavor, just watch the liquid to not burn).   Remove and garnish with remaining bacon before serving.

I, rather then put this in oven, often let it stew in my crock pot through the day on low heat so it is good and thick by supper.

If you want a added “smoke” flavor to them, they also are wonderful after setting in a pan on grill filled with smoking hickory chips for a hour or longer.

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Seasoned Pork Loin

1 pork loin

Rub of your own desire or recipe I put in this blog for red meats

Pepper and seasoning salt

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup dehydrated mushrooms or 1 cup fresh, sliced

Take your loin and using your hands, rub the rub into the meat.  Don’t be bashful it’s good to play with your meat to get the juices flowing and the seasoning well into each nook.  Once well rubbed, put the loin into either a crock pot (which I used) or a dish for oven.  Cover with just enough water to keep from burning and to allow a ‘steam’ effect.  Add onions and mushrooms and let cook at either high heat (crock pot) or 400 degrees in oven for 1 hour.  Check often and baste to keep from drying out and loin moist and juicy.  Reduce heat to low on crock pot or 350 degrees in oven and continue to cook an additional hour (or longer in crock pot if you desire).  Be sure to still baste it often.

If using crock pot at this point transfer it to a roaster pan and place in oven uncovered, with some of the gravy juices, to brown and sear top.  If using roaster from start just remove the cover.  Keep basting for 1/2 a hour.  Remove from oven and slice for serving or pull apart if doing a pulled pork style.

In pulled pork you would simply re-add the juices back over the shredded meat.  If you desire gravy, place the juice in a saucepan and introduce slowly a mix of water and flour (consistency of pancake batter) stirring it constantly until thickened.  To keep a darker “rich” color to the gravy I suggest using a “browning” agent like you can find among the Worcestershire sauces and various smoke flavorings in your grocery store.

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I love this salad as a quick fix meal, in summer it’s a soothing addiction to any meal, and best of all it’s easy to make.

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

2 cucumbers

2 tomatoes

2 green onions

Ranch Dressing, Buttermilk Dressing, or homemade slaw dressing

Peel cucumbers, cut in half, cut halves in half and then cube.  Cut tomatoes into cubes and also cut up the green onions including the tops.  Put it all in a bowl and stir well. 

Add dressing of your desire.  I put a homemade dressing I also use on just cucumbers, coleslaw and other salads.  That dressing consists of the basic ingredients of:

4 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 1/2 – 2  tbsp sugar

pepper and salt to taste

I also will add thyme, basil, parsley, sage, mint and other herbs to it for variety.

Place salad in container and store in fridge for a hour or longer to mingle flavors.

One nice thing about this salad.  Aside from the parent needing to cut the vegetables into proper pieces it is able to be made by children to allow them to feel sense of accomplishment in kitchen.  I will cut cucumbers, tomatoes and onions into separate bowls and let my daughter combine them and stir in the dressing.  She often is huge smiles when she gets to present “her” dish to the table.

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