Thursday, April 30, 2009

strawberry shortcake

Have you noticed strawberries are on? I don't make jam, so you can go ahead and make your own jam and bring me some. Strawberry shortcake is one of my family's favorite desserts, so much so we don't wait around for when strawberries are cheap, thank the world for Costco.
Now when I was a kid, we used to eat strawberry short cake with angel food cake, or those gross twinkie like sponge cakes they always display next to the strawberries. My mother should be ashamed. At least she didn't use cool whip.
So the family has evolved into a REAL old fashioned shortcake.  Here is the ingredient list for the shortcake.

2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 T baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 stick butter (cold and cubed)
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk

Using your food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Next cut the butter into the flour by pulsing the food processor, it should look like this.

Now add the buttermilk and eggs and run the processor until it forms a ball. Now you can either press this into a cake pan, or drop tablespoon size balls like you would a cookie, like this....
Bake in a 350 degree oven till the tops are lightly browned (about 15 minutes for the cookie size, 20 minutes for the cake pan size)

Now all you have to do is slice your strawberries, and lightly dust them with sugar. Whip a pint of heavy cream with a little sugar and vanilla and you have dessert!
Now this Sunday I experimented with a little addition to the dessert, custard cream. It was an excellent addition! However, I want to tweak the recipe a little, so stay tuned for the perfected custard cream recipe!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Skillet Cheese Potatoes

We had a great dinner tonight. Almond crusted halibut, roasted corn, and skillet potatoes. The camera battery died on the first photo, so all you get is the recipe for the potatoes.  One of the disadvantages to being easy going and laid back is that you tend to loose a lot of things. I think I have lost the charger to every camera I have ever had. Then I have purchased new chargers, and lost them as well. Jeez louise! So if anyone has a digital Nikon SLR, can I borrow your charger?
These potatoes make a great tasty side dish for a lot of meals.

Ingredient list:
1 large potato diced into half inch cubes (I'm talking costco large, otherwise use 2 potatoes)
1/2 onion diced
1/2 green pepper diced
handful of sliced mushrooms
salt and pepper
few handfuls of shredded cheese of your choice.

You could probably do this is one skillet, but I don't like to crowd the pan, so I do the potatoes in one, and the mushrooms, onions and peppers in another then I combine them. Also the potatoes need a lot more time then the aforementioned. 
While you are dicing your potatoes, heat a few tablespoons of oil into your skillet ( a skillet with a lid, IMPORTANT) Add the potatoes to the pan and season them with a little kosher salt. Give them a toss and over them. Now it will take at least 20 minutes for them to be done. So every now and again give them another toss so they get browned all over. All the while, keep them covered, that way they are getting a quasi-steam while they brown up. In the other pan, saute the onions, peppers, and mushrooms all together with a little oil and seasoned with salt. When both the potatoes and other vegetables are tender, combine them in to the bigger of the two skillets. Give them a few grinds of fresh pepper and top with a few handfuls of shredded cheese.  Cover them so the cheese melts and they stay warm till you serve. This will serve about 5 people.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The weather will not get me down, not with corn on cob!

It is the end of April. This is the view from my kitchen window.
Fairb is still gone, it is still snowing. I should be loosing my mind. I would have lost my mind had it not been for this. . . .

I will eat like the weather is warm, and I will find joy and rejoicing! They had corn on the cob at Wall-Mart! Sure it was 50 cents a piece, but it was corn on the cob! I was very skeptical about it because its not corn season, and well frankly, its Wall-Mart. My children were begging me, and how can you pass a child down who is begging for a vegetable, so I bought some. They were so good, just like corn from the farm stand in August! If  Wall-Mart wasn't 30 minutes from home, I would have ran down to buy more for Sunday dinner.  So thank you corn on the cob for cheering me up.

note: yes that is cottage cheese on my potato, if you are not topping your potato with cottage cheese, you are doing it all wrong. Try it today!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My new cookbook

So my good friend Kris surprised me with a cookbook out of the blue.  I was thrilled!  I think it was a hint to bake her something :). I have heard of Magnolia cupcakes before so I was so excited to start trying! Kris told me that the first thing I have to try is the banana pudding.  Mama loves pudding, so I tried it, it was incredible! I don't know if it completely illegal to post someone else's recipe, but it was soooo good,  I can't keep it to myself! So thank you Kris for the cookbook, I will bring you some pudding soon!

Ingredient list
1   14.5 oz  can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 c ice cold water
one small box instant vanilla pudding
3 c heavy cream
1 box Nilla wafers
4 c sliced bananas

The good thing is, it is so easy to make! First combine sweetened condensed milk and cold water. Beat with an electric mixers until well combined and smooth. Add pudding powder and beat some more (about 2 minutes) until very smooth. Refrigerate for AT LEAST 3 hours, or overnight.  When you are ready to assemble the banana pudding, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold cream into the pudding until combined and there are no streaks.
Now get your prettiest deep glass dish and get ready to assemble. Wafers, bananas, pudding, wafers, bananas, pudding, wafers, bananas, pudding. 
Now it has to the be chilled again to let the wafers soak up the pudding. About 4 hours is needed. Now the recipes says, no more that 8 hours, but I ate this pudding for 3 days and tastes all good.

Now Paula Dean would call this a "sugar free" recipe because the recipe doesn't call for sugar. It is really sweet, but I loves me sweet! It has been about a weeks since I made it and just blogging about it makes me want to make some more . . . Think . . do I have nilla wafers ? I got to run to the store and get me some wafters. Stay tuned for when I try the cupcakes!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rachael Ray Audition Tape part II

Its not like I am bitter or anything, I am totally over it . . . (sense my sarcasm?) So here was the last part of my Rachael Ray audition tape. See my first part here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Roasted Asparagus

I often wonder if people ever read my blog and ever want to tell me that there are other ways to season food besides salt and pepper. Show me the spices baby! There is a time and a place for spices, I know how to use them, but I am a big fan of minimal spices and letting foods speak for themselves. Everyone can appreciate a simply prepared, well seasoned meal. Generally speaking, salt and pepper is all you need to makes something taste good. Garlic and onions are always good too!
Steamed asparagus is good, but roasted asparagus is great. It takes asparagus to a whole new level. 
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Break the woody stems off the asparagus. If your mother didn't teach you already, you just put the asparagus between your two hands and break it where it naturally breaks, like you are breaking a pencil. Wash the asparagus and thoroughly dry.  Next line out the asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet (lined with parchment if you don't like scrubbing). Give the asparagus a couple swirls of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. With your fingers, give the asparagus a light toss so they are all coated evenly.

Put in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes until tender. You want them a little shriveled but still tender crisp, you cook them too long and they will be stringy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Egg rice

This rice recipe is pathetically easy, that is what makes it such a good side dish and it goes with a lot of things. This is straight from my childhood.

2 c long grain rice cooked according to instructions (with salt)
5 egg yolks
1/4 c green onions
fresh ground pepper

Beat together egg yolks until smooth (I may have mentioned this before, but my friend Hillary showed me a better way to separate eggs, instead of the the shell to shell way, just put the egg in your hand and let the white slip through your fingers while holding onto the yolk. That way it is easier to get the egg bugar out) While the rice is still steaming hot add the egg yolks and mix really well till all the rice is coated with the egg and the rice is yellow. Add the green onion and some grinds of fresh pepper.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Orange glazed salmon

This recipe is adapted from one of my best buddies, Sarah. This is her second appearance on the blog and there will be many more to come. This is what she told me to do . . .
This recipe is for 4 salmon portions. Zest one orange and combine it with about 1/4 c of sugar, and some salt and pepper.  Squeeze the orange over the salmon fillets and top each fillet with the sugar mixture. Grill or broil the fish sugar side up. 
Now that is what she told me to do, but this is what I did. First, instead of just squeezing the orange over the fish, I marinated the fish in it for about 30 minutes. To the orange juice I also added a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and about 2 tablespoons of fresh grated ginger.
 I was intending to grill the fish, but I was out of propane (must of left it on last time, dang!). I really hate to broil because the pan is always a pain to clean. So I pan fried it. I put the fish sugar side up and cooked it on medium heat, flipping it once. I seasoned the other side with fresh pepper and season salt after I flipped it. The reason I give my version is because I think the soy sauce and ginger totally changed the recipe. So I think it would be good either way.

I served it with egg rice and roasted asparagus. Stay tuned this week for those recipes!

Monday, April 13, 2009

My new poll over there

So I was at my good friend Lori's house. She is very type A. Always planning, very organized. Her house is perfectly decorated (I don't even have a picture on the wall) and she is an incredible mother doing things like planning activities to teach her children about recycling (I am lucky to pass for a mother). She was about to slice an orange to put into the punch bowl before a get together at her house. Before she began to slice, I reminded her to wash it first. To which she replied, "oh, I already washed it." I was shocked! She washes all her produce we she comes home from the grocery store before she put it away. I had never heard such a thing! Don't get me wrong, I believe in food cleanliness  ( clean hands, hair up, washing food, cross contamination, all that jazz). but I had no idea there were people who washed their food before before they put it away. Putting away the groceries is bad enough! To be perfectly honest, I only wash an orange if I plan on using the peel. Of course this is coming from the mother who would let her children eat dirt (Alta was a real dirt chomper in her early days) . So please take my poll . . . . over there ----------->

primary easter activity

Still the P. Prez, shocking I know. We had a great activity this weekend for Easter. It was a Easter egg hunt and service project. We collected little toys and treats from the ward to make grab bags for the food bank. So when families go to the food bank to get food, they can take home a little surprise for their children. So we had the children decorate some white gift bags with stickers and markers, then we filled them with the treats and toys. Before we did the Easter egg hunt, I talked to them about Jesus and His sacrifice. I asked them after the Easter egg hunt if they would be willing to sacrifice some of their eggs to children who would otherwise not have anything fun for Easter.  So after they ran all over my Mom's backyard most of the children gave up some eggs, and some children gave up all their eggs. With 40 kids at the activity, we had over 200 eggs sacrificed. 
So the next morning realized the food bank doesn't operate on Saturday. The eggs would be pretty pointless after Easter, so I called the food and care coalition where they serve hot meals, and they said they could use them as tray favors for the meal on Easter. So I ran them down to them. When I walked in, they were very excited for the eggs, because they didn't have anything like that for Easter. Just as I was about to go, the woman who was taking the donations got a phone call. It was a very sad mother who was calling to ask if they had anything she could give her children on Easter morning. She had been waiting for money to come in and it didn't, so she had no money to do something special for her kids on Easter morning.  So she told the mom they just had some eggs donated and she could come down and get some. So if it wouldn't of been for my primary kids, she would have been turned away with nothing. So I thought that was pretty great! We should give our kids opportunities to sacrifice!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Deviled eggs

Turning these into . . . .


Ah the dying of eggs, so fun yet so painful. Boiling the eggs (Martha Stewart says cover the eggs with cold water by one inch. Bring to a boil and cover, remove from heat and let sit for 13 minutes.) My kids were so excited for the whole process, I just hate it. The mess, the prep, the pointlessness of it all. I however was excited the next day to make deviled eggs.
My children love deviled eggs, almost all children love deviled eggs. It is one of the few healthy things children like, so we should all make them more because they are so inexpensive and good for you! Now I hate mayonnaise, a lot.  So I make my deviled eggs with sour cream, and it is oh so good. I know there are lots of recipes where you put all kinds of crazy stuff in a deviled egg, and those actually sound really good, however I have never tried it. My kids would probably cry their eyes to see their blessed deviled eggs and bite into them only to find a jalapeno! So these are basic, but delicious.

Boiled eggs (how ever many you have)
spoonful of sour cream
season salt
fresh pepper
couple pinches of dry mustard

Now you will have to season according to how many yolks you have. Same with with the sour cream and milk. I use a hand mixture to make the yolks smooth, and add milk a tablespoon at a time till the yolks are smooth, but still stiff. Just to be fancy pants, I like to pipe the yolks back into the whites with a pastry bag.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Grecian Chicken

I don't know what exactly makes this dish "Grecian" isn't not like there is any feta cheese or kalamata olives in it. It may not be Grecian at all, but that is what my mom called it, so that is what I will call it. This is a recipe that was taught to my mother, by her mother-in-law, aka my grandma.  It is in the top twenty greatest family recipes, for sure.

Grecian Chicken
1 chicken cut up (I always just buy one cut up, who knows how to cut up a chicken the right way anyway? Not me!)
2 big cans diced tomatoes
1 big onion diced
2 green peppers diced
3 cloves garlic minced
5-6 bay leaves
1-2 T curry (if you recall, I told you the best and cheapest place to buy good flavored curry is the Mexican spice section of wall-mart)
salt and pepper 
1 T chicken base
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place your cut up chicken in your roasting pan drizzle it with olive oil (I then brush it with a pastry brush, just to make it even) Then liberally season it with salt and pepper (I go with fresh ground, just get the big grinders from Costco).  Brown the chicken in the oven for about 45 minutes until the skin is browned. Meanwhile, dice up your onion and pepper and saute it in some olive oil, season with salt and pepper. You don't have to cook them throughout, just enough to let them release their fragrance. 
Add the tomatoes, curry (add 1 T if you aren't big with curry flavor, add 2 T if you are, if you hate curry, add turmeric, but then of course the recipe is dead to me) garlic, bay leaves, chicken base and season with a little more salt and pepper.  Just mix it together, no need to heat it. 
When the chicken is browned, pour the tomato mixture on top, cover it and return to the oven. Bake at 300 degrees for at least 2 hours until the chicken falls off the bone and the vegetables are cooked down. Serve over rice, this will feed a lot of people, like 10 people. So if you are not 10 people, it freezes really well.

note: yes I served it with white rice. . . . I am so ashamed . . . .

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

KITCHEN TOOL OF THE WEEK: this awesome brownie pan

You have admit, you love the sky mall magazine. You look at it on the airplane because you have nothing else to do, and you manage to see a ton of things that you realize you totally need even though 10 minutes before you didn't even know they existed.  Lucky for your bank account you are on a airplane therefore have no way (Internet, phone) to actually purchase those things, and you get off the plane forgetting everything you are dying to have.
This brownie pan I saw in a sky mall magazine when I flew to Seattle and I knew I needed it. However, I did not purchase it from the magazine, but I also did not forget about it.  I still wanted it even though much time had passed. 
We were in Seattle with a nice couple and I mentioned it to my friend Sherrie. Well today the wonderful FedEx lady brought one to my house and it was sent to me by Sherrie! Isn't that sweet? It completely made my day, and I immediately made some brownies (sorry folks, just the box kind, I have no recipe for you, I have never eaten a brownie better than Betty Crocker anyway, if you have, send me the recipe!)! I haven't even thanked Sherrie yet, I just thought it was so kind and thoughtful. 
Anyway, the premise behind the pan is that every brownie will have the chewy edges that we all know and love.  Cool right? It is a standing rule in my house that only mom gets to eat the corners of the brownies,  so now I get to eat the whole pan! Yippie!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Whole grains, slowly but surely

I am always in a constant state of guilt by the lack of whole grains in my families diet. Feeding my children cinnamon toast crunch for breakfast isn't helping (hey its whole grain . . .) If I cooking I am generally cooking from the out edges of the grocery store.  Meat, dairy, fruit and veg. Real, whole foods. We eat good, but we can always be eating better. It is always and inner struggle for me because priority number one is that it tastes DANG good.  My whole self esteem is resting on this one concept, it can not be compromised. That being said, low fat, low sodium is COMPLETELY out of the question.  I will never cut butter or salt out of my cooking, NEVER. Sorry heart, it ain't gonna happen. It's not like I am going crazy with the stuff. Food is not good with out both of them, generally speaking.
I am going to start adding more whole grains. So today I bought a new rice cooker at Costco, so I can start cooking brown rice instead of white. This one is easy for me because I like brown rice, PF Chang's and Rumbi's, their brown rice is delicious.
I knew this was going to be a challenge for my husband, children, and father. I placed it in front of Porter, who is extremely picky.
"Why does this rice look funny"
"Its just like white rice, but it is brown. just taste it."
"It tastes like white rice, but I hate looking at it"
Not a bad reaction, he seemed to still like the taste. Then my husband says, 
"I don't like it, but I'm eating it anyway."
Jees Louise Fairb, you say that and its over for the kids. Maybe Porter didn't hear. My dad walks in and excited to see his favorite meal, beef curry then he sees the brown rice,
"You're making me eat brown rice!"
Porter took his plate to the sink immediately following. Thanks guys for ruining everything!
I personally loved the brown rice and will be replacing it for most rice dishes. Brown rice takes about twice as long to cook as white rice, but it is 4 times healthier!
Go get some brown rice today!
Next stop, whole grain pasta . . . . 

Saturday, April 4, 2009

world wide ward cook book

I love to read cookbooks. I especially love to read ward cookbooks, because I like to know what people are cooking, and what they feel the best thing they cook is. So if you ever have a ward or family cook book you are getting rid of, give it to me! I love them! So when I saw the "Worldwide Ward Cook Book"  at Costco, I had to get it. Of course I loved reading it, but like most ward cookbooks, there weren't many "winning recipes" I counted 15 recipes that called for a can of soup. Find me another recipe book that has that many recipes that call for a can of soup besides the "Cambells" cookbook. If the recipe didn't call for a can of soup it called for a packet of dried onion soup of a pack of Italian dressing mix. Needless to say, it was terribly cliche with recipes like funeral potatoes, tater tot casserole and hot dog casserole.  I don't think there was an entree that even inspired me to make something new. I can say that dessert and bread recipes got me a little excited. In fact, I made some cinnamon rolls.  I kind of went off a recipe in the book, but it called for margarine, I don't do margarine. I kind of used the recipe on page 33, it wasn't anything special, I am sure there are better sweet roll recipes out there. (send them to me please!) what was good was the icing I invented to put on top!

Cinnamon buns

4 c bread flour
1 T instant yeast (the kind you can mix in with flour without proofing it, its the bomb!)
1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
combine then add .  . .
1/3 c melted butter
2 eggs
1 c warm milk

Combine with dough hook (or by hand) and knead till dough is smooth. Put in a greased bowl and let raise till double. Punch down and roll out into a rectangle about 21 inches wide and 16 inches tall.  Liberally spread melted butter over it, then liberally sprinkle it with brown sugar(I would say double what you do if you were making cinnamon toast) , then sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll it up tight like a sleeping bag and slice into about 12 rolls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment (you will be glad you did when it comes clean up time) and let rise till double. Bake for about 15 minutes at 375 till nice and browned.

Sour cream glaze

Meanwhile, melt a 1/4 c butter and a big spoonful (1/4 to 1/3 c ish) sour cream. When the butter is melted (sour cream will be softened) add about a 1/2 a bag of powdered sugar. Combine, then thin out with enough milk to make it a little more runny than you would make regular frosting. Frost the rolls while they are still hot!

Don't go buy the cookbook, just come borrow mine, unless you are a BIG cream of chicken soup fan!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Try this

When you bake you potatoes (only place to buy potatoes is Costco, a big bag of nicely shaped ginormous russet potatoes) at 400 degrees for 1 hour try this . . .

Try rubbing them down with olive oil and sprinkling them with kosher salt. It makes the skin tender and tasty. Making it much more appealing to eat the healthiest part of the the potato.
Do you probe your potatoes with a fork before you cook them? I used to do that as well, then I questioned why I was even doing it. I was doing it because my mother did it. So I asked my mother why she did it. You know what she said? So they don't explode! Seriously? Have you ever heard of a potato exploding in the oven? Ever? First of all, that would never happen, and second of all, if it did, that would be freaking awesome!
So the moral of the story is, you don't need to stab your potatoes with a fork. In my opinion it just allows moister to escape, making your potato more dry. I haven't had a potato fatality yet, and I do a lot of baked potatoes!