Who Am I?

I'm a mother of 2 under 2 and also stepmother of a teenager. My cooking experience comes from watching my Mother who makes almost everything from scratch and also from working in my college's cafeteria for 4 years.

I don't watch a lot of cooking shows, although I do like Good Eats. A lot of the time those recipes are totally unrealistic. Like normal people actually have time to do all that stuff.

My goal is to share recipes, gadgets and cooking advice that real people can actually use.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cooookie!

I love cookies.  And recently, I acquired some more gadgets for making them.

Cookie sheets are always sooo expensive and they don't last very long.  I have found a better solution:

Try a silicone baking sheet inside a half sheet aluminum pan.  The silicone sheet on the right is a Tupperware Wonder Mat which I've had forever but never really used.  The one on the left I received as a Christmas present.  It's a lot thicker and I think I like it better.  I picked up the sheet pans at our local restaurant supply store for $7 or so apiece.  You can also get them at Sam's club but these are thicker and are made in Texas.  The silicone mats run like $10-$30 or so.  I use the mats with more than just cookies and it works 10 times better than non stick spray.

Here's my other gizmo:


It's OXO's cookie spatula. I found it at the restaurant supply store.  I've been really satisfied with it so far as it works great and it's silicone coated so it won't stick to your cookies (ever had that happen, it's the worst!). 

So, here are my finished product.  I'll put up the recipe later

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I found this box mix for official "Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits" at Sam's Club a few months back.  It has enough to make three batches.  I think on the third batch I finally got them the way they come in the restaurant. 


The biscuit mix is fine.  The biscuits bake up nice (you just add shredded cheese and water).  The problem was the topping.  It calls for 1/3 cup butter and the seasoning packet to be added after the biscuits are baked.  The problem was, the butter was too thin and the biscuits didn't brown correctly.  Here is my solution:

Instead of 1/3 cup butter use 3 tbsp. butter.  Melt it and add the seasoning packet.
Before putting the biscuits in the oven, put just a dab of butter on top of each one. 
After the biscuits are baked, use the remaining butter as instructed.

I found that using less butter made a more concentrated solution which produced a tastier topping similar to what you get in the restaurant.  Also adding the bit of butter before baking ensures that the top of the biscuit will brown nicely.

Try it!  You'll like them!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Redoing the Recipes

My mother-in-law signed me up for a year's subscription to Family Circle.  Five years ago, I would have been appalled.  Instead, I did a little "squee!" when I got the first issue. 

There are a bunch of recipes in the back that I want to try.  But I don't want to have to dig the magazines out each time I want to do it.  Not to mention, since they're new, I don't know by heart all the ingredients. 

I recently got a new laptop.  It's a nice little Asus with Windows 8 and a touch screen (not one of those fancy ones like the Yoga, but it works well).  I have a Windows 7.5 phone.  I could use the One Note that's built into the phone on SkyDrive but I wanted to try something different.  So, I'm using Evernote

So far, so good.  I have the program on the laptop so I can easily type things in and I have the app on my phone so I can access it anywhere there's internet.  There's also an android app so we can view it on our tablet too.    

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recipe: Chicken with Rice

It's Sunday and I really don't feel like cooking.  I'm not really rushed to make dinner so I'm whipping out one of my low hassle, easy to prepare and it's done recipes:  Chicken with Rice.

Everyone probably has some version of this recipe somewhere in their cookbook.  This is from my mother so I don't know the original source.  I have changed a few things from her original as well.

Some notes before I start:

  • The original recipe calls for "converted rice" (ie, Uncle Ben) but I have been using Long Grain without a problem
  • You can use any kind of uncooked chicken.  My mother used a whole cut up chicken.  I generally use boneless chicken breasts or chicken breast tenderloins.  Today I am using thighs.  My only warning on the boneless chicken breast is that you may not have to cook it the whole 1 1/2 hours if you put it in thawed.  I put mine in frozen and it does take the whole time to cook properly.
  • It calls for cream of chicken soup but my mom has used cream of mushroom successfully (it just slightly alters the flavor).  I supposed you could use almost any "cream of" soup to your particular tastes.  It doesn't really matter if it's Campbell's or store brand or if you use regular or Healthy Request.
  • The one thing I am picky on is the onion soup mix.  I always go Lipton
See, it has actual dehydrated mushrooms and onions in there.  Most store brands are just powder.
 Ingredients:

  • 13x9 glass pan (Pyrex, Anchor, etc...)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 package Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion or Onion Mushroom
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • Raw chicken
Preheat oven to 350

In the glass pan, mix the rice, boiling water and the dry soup mix


 Add the chicken (it looks a little sparse because I'm only cooking three thighs but a whole cut up chicken does fit).  Spoon the cream soup over the chicken.


Cook for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is done.

I have successfully doubled the rice in this recipe since the kids love the rice the most.  However, the last time I did it, it was a bit watery so I think I added too much water.  Have not figured out the proper amount yet.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recipe: Scones

From the previous post, I mentioned that my husband loves his tea (even though he's not English, he's Cajun which is Acadian which is French).  And what goes better with tea than scones.  Now, scones are hard to come by here in America and everything tastes better homemade so I just make my own.  I stole the recipe from Alton Brown (you can find it on Food Network's site).  They aren't terribly difficult to make.

Now, he cuts them round with a biscuit cutter (which is 99 cents at World Market) and I do the same.  I've seen other recipes call for them to be cut triangular.  They taste just fine round to me.  You can also add whatever you want to the scones (nuts, dried fruit, etc....) but they also work nicely plain.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (really easy to measure if you get Crisco sticks)
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well. Cut in butter and shortening. In a separate bowl, combine cream with beaten egg then add to dry ingredients. Stir in any optional ingredients. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll dough out and cut into biscuit size rounds. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Grow Your Blog


Welcome to the Grow Your Blog Party!   This is a little side blog I have on food.  I took a break from it for awhile but now that I'm home and unemployed, I've had a little more time for it lately.  Feel free to visit my personal/cross stitching blog at http://gadgetsjoyfulpage.blogspot.com

I started this blog to talk about recipes for real people.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Tea Story

My family is a tea drinking family.  The husband and stepchildren also drink coffee but for the most part it's tea.  My mother has a cup of Lipton every day.  I try to tell her that there's other teas out there, but that's what she likes.  I, until recently, stuck to herbal teas and green tea.

In the early days of tea, I had what's called a Hot Shot.  My parents bought me it for my dorm room.  It works quite well, especially if you're drinking bag tea.  You put the water in the top and press the left button.  After it's done heating, the light goes off and you press the right button to dispense it into your cup.  It also works well for making instant hot chocolate if you're using water instead of milk.  I don't know if it's still on the market but it is rather handy.



 When I got married, I discovered that my husband had a thing for PG Tips.  It's the most popular tea in Britain and comes in these triangle bags.  You can actually get it at Kroger and Wal-Mart.  He discovered that my Hot Shot was perfect for making his cup of tea.


What he really really liked, though, was loose tea.  It's hard to come by fresh unless you have a local tea shop.  We discovered a British import store that carried PG tips in loose tea.

Now for loose tea, the Hot Shot won't work the best, so we had to buy a teapot.  World Market had one that he liked.


There are lots of different kinds of diffusers and stuff that you can get for making loose tea.  They don't always work the best so he made tea by putting the tea leaves directly into the pot and adding hot water.  Now, if you're not careful, you'll get leaves in your cup, so we got a nice sieve at World Market too.  Not fancy but it did the job.


To boil the water for the tea, we first had a stovetop tea kettle which we discarded because it was rather old.  Then we got a simple electric kettle (corded) that was on clearance at Kroger.  I don't have a picture of that either because it recently started leaking all over the place so it too found its way into the trash.

Then, miracle of miracles!  A tea shop opened up near us!  Fresh tea!  And we found whole new way to make tea.  You put in your tea leaves and add hot water.  When the tea has seeped enough, you place it on top of your cup and it goes out through a filter in the bottom into your cup.  It works awesomely.


Then after the tragedy of the electric tea kettle, my husband had to rely on his Christmas present.  This is a cast iron teapot.  You put the water in and then place it directly on the stove to heat it.  It's nice but the downside is that it only makes one cup at a time.


What you really need if you're serious about tea is an electric kettle with variable temperature.  Some of the more delicate teas like white tea and matcha powder don't need to be heated all the way to boiling or they become bitter.  My husband found a model he liked and ordered it from Wal-Mart.  It took forever to get to us on site-to-store (sad because we live near the distro center but it took a week to travel 10 minutes).  So far it's really worked great.


We have quite a collection of tea.  The best way to store tea is in these fancy airtight containers that block out light but we don't have that much money and since we drink tea rather quickly, this is our tea setup.


So, my favorite tea?  I'm quite partial to Silver Needle (a white tea) although I really liked the White Rose tea I got at Central Market but sadly I'm out and haven't had the chance to journey back there.