Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking. Show all posts

Friday, November 4, 2016

Easy-Does-It Recipe

This Crockpot SPAGHETTI recipe came to my attention several years ago when a friend prepared it for me. This is the first time I have made this recipe.  I believe the recipe originally came from a Crockpot Recipe Book. I was surprised that the dry pasta was put into the crockpot. It is truly an easy recipe and I really liked the flavor. It will serve 8 very easily.


EASY-DOES-IT SPAGHETTI

2 lbs. ground chuck, browned and drained
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-15-oz. cans tomato sauce
2-3 tsp. Italian seasoning (or substitute with basil, thyme, oregano
                                          and margoram)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 4-oz. cans sliced mushrooms, drained
6 cups tomato juice (do not substitute)
16 -oz. dry spaghetti, broken into 4-5 inch pieces
Parmesan cheese (grated)

Combine all ingredients except spaghetti and cheese in 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker.

Cover, Cook on Low 6-8 hours, or High 3-5 hours. Turn to High during last 3;0 minutes and stir in dry spaghetti. If spaghetti is not fully cooked, continue cooking another 10 minutes, check it to make sure it is not becoming over-cooked.

Sprinkle individual servings with Parmesan cheese.

NOTES:
For a little variation, add 1 tsp. dry mustard and 1/2 tsp allspice in Step 1. I ADDED THE MUSTARD AND ALLSPICE! 

I don't usually use canned mushrooms. However, it was fine (and easy) for this recipe.

DO NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR THE TOMATO JUICE. It gives a nice flavor and the liquid is needed to cook the dry spaghetti.


If you make this recipe, and I hope you will, let me know how you like it and any suggestions or comments.


How do you like my new colored measuring spoons? I like the colors and there are 2 additional sizes (1/2 Tbsp and 2 Tbsp) that are handy. I mixed the different spices for the Italian seasoning.

It is a great time of the year to use Crockpots. And during these busy holidays this is a nice easy recipe to ease the pressures of hectic schedules.

Mary

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Let's Do Some Cooking

Aren't these lovely looking figs that I just picked today from my tree. By the way, they are very sweet. I also clipped some fresh oregano from my garden. So, now I'm all set to make the Chicken and Roasted Figs that I mentioned a couple days ago.



The sauce is made with "good quality" red wine vinegar, cornstarch, honey, shallots, garlic and oregano. The figs get nicely caramelized with the garlic-honey sauce during a few minutes of baking in the oven at the end of preparation.


I would say that the recipe was a nice success and I look forward to making it again next year when I have fresh figs again. In the next few days I hope to bake the Almond and Fig Cake.

Happy Weekend.

Mary

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Can You See What I See

This is the nicest crop of figs that I have ever had on my little tree that I planted a few years ago. I love to hand eat them from the tree. And, this year there are enough for me to do that and still have some to bake or cook with. Not sure what it will be, but I am leaning toward a Fig And Almond Cake.


 Or maybe, Chicken and Roasted Figs.


I hope that I will make something before I eat all of them straight from the tree. Hopefully, posting about it may help me to "get to it, girl".

Since I was taking photos this morning of the fig tree, I thought I would look around and see what else in the garden I could photograph for this post. And, I found a few. With the summer weather coming to a close there isn't a lot to share from the garden.


Until next time. Hope you are enjoying each day!

Mary

Monday, June 20, 2016

First Day Of Summer

And it is a HOT one! I went outside at 8:30 this morning to take some photos and it was already 80 degrees with bright sunlight. Certainly not the best conditions for taking photos. But, I did my best!

There is a new cutie in my garden. I needed a helper especially since I am alone these days with only my very own heart beat. So I will just have to pretend that my new helper will follow me around the garden. Have I gone ding-a-ling? I don't think so!
There are so many lovely flowers in the garden that are showing their beautiful faces for the first time this season. Here are just a few. All of these photos were taken this morning. By the end of the day I am sure there will be more especially with the hot weather that is forecast for about a week. Yikes, it is suppose to reach 100 degrees.
I have had more time to garden this year and it certainly shows. And, it is so good for my spirit!

Last evening for dinner I made a little baked cod with a yummy topping.

Along with rice pilaf with roasted almonds and some freshly bought cantaloupe and I was "a happy camper". Something easy and healthy. 

Please enjoy your first day of SUMMER. Can you believe it - already? How many days until Christmas, did you say?

Mary

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Opened The Window Drapes

To a Rain Washed World at least from my perspective. How lovely! It seems as though we are getting some good rainfall mostly during the nighttime. At least that is the way it has been for the last two nights. I love the sunshine and mild temperatures we are having during the daytime.

Yesterday I walked around my little garden areas and observed how much needs to be done. Mostly the weeds are the biggest issue. The rains have brought up a tremendous amount of beautiful green. At the present time they are easy to pull but they are getting taller day by day. But, it's OK because the water is more important.

There is not much starting to bloom but there is a lot of new growth in the garden. Of course, if you have a Forsythia Yellow Plant you know it is the harbinger of spring as it is an early bloomer along with Red Quince.

I have just a few photos I tried to take yesterday during a light rain. The quality of these photos show that I was feeling impatient with my lack of photo expertise. Oh well, another day they will be better.

I am trying very hard to adjust to life without my sweet Lily. My greatest comfort is that she is no longer suffering. And I am so grateful for all the love, comfort and fun that she gave to me during the ten years. I know it will take me awhile to feel better. Please excuse my less than typical attempt at blogging. 

That said, I did some cooking which seemed very appropriate on a slightly rainy day. I had been reading pot chuck roast recipes and one in particular caught my attention. Specifically, because it called for one cup of strong coffee

So, here it is and it turned out with great flavor along with carrots, onions, potatoes and shiitake mushrooms. This is not fancy cooking but just simple home cooking that I can put in the freezer for little dinners through the coming weeks.

I hope all of you have a Very Good Weekend. 

Mary

Monday, February 29, 2016

Do You Know Your Spices And Herbs

I never have given a lot of thought to this question. But, now that I have tossed out almost everything in my spice drawer I am learning a few facts (thoughts) about the subject from various websites. 
Spice or Herb?

Herbs and spices. We often say these words together: “flavored with herbs and spices.” But what’s the difference between them? Both are seasonings, of course. But of the two, spices are generally stronger smelling and often stronger tasting. Spices typically come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, or stems of plants and trees; while herbs are the more gently fragrant leaves of plants. 

That is new info for me or I don't remember. I did not realize that the herbs are the leaves. 


Cooking with Herbs

When do you add herbs and spices? It depends on the kind of herb or spice you’re dealing with and the cooking time the recipe calls for. Herbs with mild flavors, like basil and parsley, work best when added right at the end, while strong-flavored herbs like bay leaves and sage work fine over the length of the cooking.
Compared to whole spices, the flavor of ground spices is more concentrated; ground spices will infuse sauces with flavor more quickly than whole spices. If you have a short cooking time, add ground spices at the start. If your recipe calls for a slow simmer, it’s okay to add them near the end of cooking. Long-simmering stews and soups are also great for whole spices, whose flavors will release at a leisurely pace.

Before adding leafy herbs to a dish, place them in the palm of your hand and rub them gently with your fingertips to help release flavors and aromas. Toasting seeds and certain spices (like cumin) in a dry skillet can also enhance flavors and aromas.
I am including the following information from Foodbabe.com  as "Food For Thought". This is something else that I have not given a lot of thought. However, it does not surprise me.

Conventional Spices Contain Harmful Ingredients

There are many reasons for adding spices to food, including enhancing flavor, boosting nutritional value, and also preserving freshness.  Unfortunately, when we buy conventional spices, they often contain more negative qualities than positive. Like conventional food found in supermarkets, many of the spices we find on the shelves are treated with chemicals, contain GMO's
and are irradiated. Virtually all conventional spices sold in the United States are fumigated (sterilized) with hazardous chemicals that are banned in Europe.

What is Irradiation?
Food irradiation is the process of using radiation to kill bacteria and other contaminants. But while radiation is used to reduce bacteria in the spices we are consuming, the finished product has decreased levels of vitamins and natural enzymes. Irradiation changes the chemical composition of a spice, potentially creating toxic, carcinogenic by-products in the food and increasing our exposure to free radicals. Free radicals cause aging and disease – something we want to avoid at all costs!

How To Buy Spices Safely

With that said, it’s extremely important to fill our pantries with spices that promote health, rather than take away from it.  Below are strategies for buying spices to make flavorful dishes, promote health and limit your exposure to hidden toxins.
  1. Always buy organic spices – not only will they not have toxic pesticides, but they also will not be irradiated. Organic spices cannot have genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs), artificial colors, preservatives, and other synthetic anti-caking agents. 
  2. Buy spices from the bulk bin to get the most bang for your buck. Buying a large amount ensures the spices will be used in an appropriate amount of time. 
  3. Check the expiration date. Spices, unlike wine, do not get better with age. Make sure you clean out your pantry often to avoid using expired spices. With age, spices lose their powerful benefits.
  4. Replace conventional spices as soon as possible. If your spice cabinet is full of conventional spices, start to buy organic spices for each new recipe you make week after week, eventually you’ll have a whole new assortment of organic spices to choose from.

    Interesting, and like I say, not surprising. That said, this is all fine and good but not all of us have the luxury to buy according to these guidelines. Like most things we simply have to make a chose and do what we thing works for each of our situations.

    Yesterday, when I was out and about I stopped into a little independent grocery store and I was delighted to find spices in small quantities (0.60 oz.) and very reasonably priced at $1.99 each. I purchased 12 spices and I am pleased especially since according to my research the company is reputable and has been around for years. In fact when I looked at my spices some of them are the same brand. 

    No, they are not organic but given the fact that I am three quarters of a century old, I see no reason to be concerned that they are not organic or about irradiation or GMO's.  I do not think my life span will be shortened! Additionally, I certainly do not cook as much or elaborate as once was my style. 

    Now let's go and cook something and use fresh spice.
    Have A Great Day.

    Mary

Monday, February 22, 2016

Fresh Spices And Beef Short Ribs

I have been checking my pantry products to clean out anything that has become outdated and there have been many. Many more than I expected. But then, when I consider how little cooking I have done in the last two years I guess it should not be a surprise. But, I really do not like wasting money. So, I plan to carefully replace items on an as-needed basis and if I see a good sale price.
There were some beef short ribs in the freezer that I did not want to freeze any longer. Everything in my freezer has been checked for freshness and I want to keep it that way. I had saved a recipe that I saw recently and wanted to use. As I looked at it I could see that I did not have all of the stated ingredients but it looked like I could substitute for them.

My recipe is very simple with ribs, vegetable oil, salt and pepper, yellow onion, garlic clove, beer, wine or broth and rosemary or thyme. As you can see above, I changed out a few things. I have never cooked with Beck's wine in the past. So I thought that was a little iffy. Red onion instead of yellow. Chopped garlic from a jar. No big deal. And then, Oregano for the herbs. After the stove-top preparation it was placed in the oven for two hours. I am delighted to tell you that the Ribs Were Very Tender And Fantastic! The onions were so nicely caramelized in the beer.  And, the oregano worked great.
Instead of making a meal with all of the sides I chose to remove the fat that provided great flavor and then shred the beef and use it for sliders/sandwiches. Wow, I liked it!

When cleaning my spice cupboard I had to toss out eleven different spice containers. Some had expire dates back to 2012! When there no longer is any fragrance you know its all over. I kept a couple that were out of date (just a little) but still had a nice fresh strong fragrance.

We have a fantastic Spice Shop at the end of my street at Main Street downtown and I may check their prices and smaller quantities can be purchased. I have bought from them in the past with good results. It's pretty special because they carry any spice you can imagine and if they do not, they will order it for you.
The Spice Tin as it is called is so cute and very well managed. I don't know why I don't think of it more often when I need spices. After all it is so close! This night time picture was taken one year at the downtown Christmas Open House.

The Spice Tin has a nice and informative website with recipes and more. Be sure to check it out. I was a little surprised. These folks "really know what they are doing!"

Well, that is just a little more about the joy of where I am blessed to live. It is a very sunny day and that makes me very very happy. It's about time. For about the last two weeks I have really had "The Slows" quite badly.

Happiness to All.

Mary

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Love Sent My Way

I had just set up a little valentine decorations on Monday morning when I received this beautiful heart/box at my door. I was so very surprised to see a package because I had not ordered anything lately that might be delivered. It was very exciting for me especially since my life is so quiet and uneventful since so many of my loved ones and friends have left and passed on. Another church friend (age 92) passed this past Sunday. She was in church and read the liturgy which she often did. And, in the afternoon she went to a Super Bowl party at the Club House where she lived and became weak and was taken to the hospital. And, passed during the night. A life fully lived! Wonderful!

I could hardly get the package opened fast enough to see who it was from. The label was signed "2 Who Love You". How sweet was that?
It was from my loving friends in New York! That is my high school friends that I have been in regular contact for the last few years after she was able to locate me. There had been a lapse of about 45 years time. I have been so happy that she looked and found me.  I was able to meet up with them the last time My Special Man and I took a family reunion trip to Michigan. We met half way between New York and Michigan in Canada and spent two days enjoying every minute we had together in a very nice hotel. It was a very very special event for me and has given me beautiful memories of  dear friends that I shared time with in the sunrise and now the sunset of my life.

The gift boxes are filled with valentine candies/cookies and lovely pears. The items that I have eaten were great. The pears have to ripen a little more. Look how pretty all of it looks.
It was such a loving thoughtful gift and so appreciated. I haven't had a gift/package to open in a couple years. I could never anticipate my life would be what it is today especially in regard to my adult children.

My friends from New York will be moving to an Assisted Living Facility next month. They both need a little extra help to enjoy their life. I am happy that it looks like it is going to work out just fine. I have to "take care of business" and finish up some paperwork that I have been procrastinating about because I am having difficulty making decisions.

The past three days have given us great weather which I am grateful. I did a little in the kitchen today. I made Crock-pot Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder from a recipe on one of the blogs. It is delicious! And, easy - of course!

All the ingredients are mixed together except the chicken breasts. The chicken is placed on the bottom with the soup ingredients on top. When is is cooked the chicken is taken out and shredded or cubed and mixed together. It is very creamy especially since I had some cream left over from the Chicken Tarragon that I made a couple days ago. I used what I had on hand which meant I changed some of the ingredients. Isn't that what soups/chowders are all about? More single serves for the freezer.

Thanks for sharing my happiness with me.

Love - Love - Love - Love - Love.

Mary

Friday, February 12, 2016

One - Two - Three - And Four

One - Growing In My Garden
Narcisuss - - - Paperwhites Ziva
Two - Cooking In My Kitchen 
Tarragon Chicken Thighs With Mushrooms and Shallots 
Three - Bought At The Grocery Store
A New African Violet
Four - Raegan Mae - 10 months old
Happy Great Granddaughter

I think that catches us up with my little simple life.

Have a Grand Day.

Mary

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Do You Ever Hate Your Kitchen Range

I do not use the word HATE very often.

Oh, but she is so Pretty and Sleek looking. Right?                        But, does she perform as promoted by literature and the salesperson? Well - - - - - - - Stove-top, Kinda. - - - - - - Oven, No. Absolutely Not.


Just a little history. I bought the range in 2008 at the time that I was doing some upgrading of my little home. I refinanced the mortgage, got a good interest rate and took enough money to make the home improvements which mostly involved the kitchen and bathrooms. In addition, I painted and painted and painted all the rooms. But, I don't think I can honestly say that I have totally finished the painting!   

Now back to the range. It was not inexpensive. I desired a few bells and whistles. I had a smooth ceramic glass cook top in the past and I wanted it again. One minor reason for replacing the range was that I had unintentionally placed a plastic microwave plate cover on the hot surface. Need I say more??? In addition I was interested in having a convection oven. 

I do not remember having a lot of disappointment with the range at the beginning other than my large (14' X 16') cookie sheets would not fit in the oven because the fan (for the convection) took up space in the back of the oven. A few years ago I researched buyer reviews of this model oven and found a huge amount of dissatisfaction. Most were related to the fluctuation of the oven temperature. The oven takes a long time to preheat and I have a lot of difficulty baking and roasting and inaccurate temperature that I never have had with other ovens.  I certainly noticed it when I was doing a lot more cooking when I was in the five year relationship. And, I am continually annoyed with the cook top temperature. For $2310.99 (in 2008) I should be a lot happier! Don't ya think? 

Recently, I have been researching ranges on the Internet and that is as far as I got. I really prefer a gas range or a duel fuel range but that would involve gas line installment! I don't think so. But, I got out my current range manual and studied every page. I will try again to adjust the temperature with the available feature on this range after I thoroughly clean the oven/stove top. Before I use the self clean control I am going to use the overnight ammonia/vinegar method. I have never left the racks in with the self clean method. But, I can leave them in with the ammonia/vinegar way. Check out this link, Oven Cleaning.

And, one more thing I am going to do is to replace the oven door gasket. They run about $50.00. A small amount if it can make me a Happy Range Lover!

It seems as though I have had way to many cooking/baking flops lately, mostly oven. Maybe, it is ME and not the range. I HOPE NOT! When I made the ham on New Years it was over cooked but still very usable. The oven was set at 275 degrees and the store bought thermometer (they say you should not use one because they reportedly are inaccurate) said 350 degrees. Go figure...

By the way, I made some great Potato And Ham Chowder with the ham bone. It is nice to have some chowder in the freezer.

I hope your weekend was very good.  Mary

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I Did It Again And A Little Floral Beauty

Yep, the crockpot is filled with my good standby Polish Sausage Stew which is so easy, fast, yummy and good for me with all that sauerkraut. 
And, I always try to remember to add some caraway seeds and a few slices of an apple. The original recipe doesn't call for it but I like the added flavor.
If you toast the caraway seed carefully for a few seconds it gives the Stew additional flavor.
This is a Honey Crisp apple that is a good eating apple, so I will put it in the crockpot near the end of cooking so that it doesn't get to soft. Just a little crunch is nice. And, of course Granny Smith is always a great choice for cooking apples. At the end of the crockpot cooking Monterey Jack cheese will be mixed in and some more can be added as a garnish at the table.
This is just before I put the lid on to start cooking. It is 10 AM and it will bring a nice aroma of home cooking to the house.

AND NOW, YOU KNOW HOW I RECEIVE GREAT JOY FROM MY FLOWERS!


All three of my Christmas Cactus plants are blooming nicely. This cactus is more apricot than red. LOVELY! It has been only a few years that I have had Christmas Cactus in my home and now I can't imagine not having them.

Additionally, I am awaiting the open blooms of an Amaryllis plant. Photos will be coming, of course.

Take time to Smell The Flowers, especially Roses and Paperwhite Narcissus.

Mary

I Think I Got Bumped To The Bottom

I Think I Got Bumped To The Bottom
Did I do Something Wrong?