Monday, April 26, 2010

BALSAMIC CHICKEN BREASTS WITH FRUIT AND NUTS

Grilled Summer Vegetable Terrine and Hazelnut ...Image by emptyhighway via Flickr




BALSAMIC CHICKEN BREASTS WITH FRUIT AND NUTS

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

2 tsp canola or extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup sliced plain almonds

Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over the chicken breasts. In a large nonstick skillet heat the canola or olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan; stir in the grapes, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and Splenda brown sugar blend. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until reduced to about 1 cup (approximately 5 to 6 minutes). Return the chicken to the pan and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, turning to coat both sides, until chicken is cooked through. Serve by putting sauce over the chicken and sprinkling the almonds over the top.
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MIXED VEGETABLE SALAD

Beans Alubia pinta alavesa. Álava, Spain.Image via Wikipedia

1 can green beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can peas
1 can lima beans (not butter beans)
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups diced celery
1 cup diced green bell pepper
3 tbsp pimento

Drain the green beans, kidney beans, the peas, and lima beans. Mix the beans and peas together lightly. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and pimento; toss the mixture to blend well and set aside.

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
dash of freshly ground pepper
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp mustard

In a medium saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Stir in the vinegar, water, and mustard. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, stirring frequently. Pour dressing over the vegetable mixture until well coated. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator in a covered container. It will keep indefinitely.
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beat the Summer Heat with Crock Pot Cooking

A slow cooker. This one has a removable 'crock...Image via Wikipedia

When the weather outside warms up, the kitchen can be a terrible place to be. There are many things you can do however, when it comes to cooking a nice home made meal that doesn't require traditional stove top or oven cooking. Learn to utilize some of the lesser heat producing equipment in your kitchen, such as the crock pot, in order to truly beat the summer heat and keep your cool while preparing a nice hot meal for friends and family.

So, how does crock pot cooking really help beat the heat? Simply put, the crock pot in and of itself puts off far less heat when cooking than an oven or stove top. This is the first and possibly the best reason to utilize the crock pot in your summer meal planning. You should also consider the fact that by not heating the house by using your stove top or oven you are also preventing your air conditioning (or other cooling methods) from working overtime in order to compensate for the additional heat that other cooking methods introduce.

This makes crock pot cooking a win-win situation as the costs involved in operating a crock pot are far less than the costs involved in operating a stove or oven in general. Whether electric or gas, your stove and oven are often serious energy hogs. Add to that the fact that you are not raising the temperature in your home by traditional means of cooking and you are using even less electricity.

Unfortunately for most, the general consensus has been that crock pots were meant for comfort foods and hearty winter meals. The truth is that the crock pot should be one of your best loved and most often utilized cooking methods if you can manage it. When it comes to cooking with a crock pot, the options are almost limitless. Almost anything that can be baked can be made in the crock pot and many, many more wonderful and enticing meals and treats as well.

Benefits of Crock Pot Cooking

In addition to the cost benefits mentioned above when it comes to crock pot cooking there are many other benefits that are well worth mentioning. First of all, the bulk of the work involved in crock pot cooking takes place early in the day when you are refreshed rather than at the end of a hectic work or play day. This means that you are less likely to forget an ingredient or make other mistakes that often occur as we hurriedly prepare a dinner when we are exhausted from the activities of our day.

Second, many great crock pot recipes include the vegetables that insure we are getting the nutrients we need. So often, when preparing a meal at the last minute, vegetables and other side dishes are left out in favor of expedience. Crock pot cooking in many instances is a meal in one dish.

Another great reason to use a crock pot for your summertime cooking is the ease of clean up. Unlike pots and pans, most crock pot meals are made in one dish. This means that there will not be mountains of dishes to be either hand washed or loaded into the dishwasher (or if you are like me-both) afterwards. You can spend less time cleaning just as you spent less time slaving over a hot stove. Oh wait! Make that no time slaving over a hot stove. Once clean up is complete you can get back to enjoying the sun set, chasing the lightening bugs with your little ones, or waiting for the first star.

While there will never be a one size fits all best cooking method, crock pot cooking comes very close. If you have a crock pot collecting dust somewhere in the back of your pantry it is time to get it out, dust if off, and dig up some great summertime crock pot cooking recipes.
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Top 5 Things You Need in Your Kitchen

Cooking salt potatoes in Syracuse, July 2005.Image via Wikipedia

If you are just starting to cook, or are moving in on your own, chances are, you don't have much in terms of cooking equipment. Here is what we recommend for you to get, as you are starting out. As times goes by, you will, of course, get more kitchen gadgets. But here are five that we recommend starting out with:

- Chopping board. This is something very basic, as you can't chop anything without having a chopping board. It is very versatile, as you can chop pretty much anything on it - onions, potatoes, tomatoes, meat, herbs, etc.

Some people prefer to get separate chopping boards to meat, dairy items, vegetables, etc. Others get differently sized chopping boards, and use them depending on the volume of things they need to chop. Start out with one, and see what else you need.

- A knife. Again, this is very basic, but you will not be able to chop or cook anything without a knife. A good, sharp knife goes a long way to help you prepare food. You can go to some stores, and hold the knives in your hand, so that you know which one you are comfortable with.

- A big pot. You need a pot for pretty much anything - from boiling pastas to making soups to stewing to pretty much anything else. Some pots come with colander inserts, which makes it easier to cook pasta. Or, you may get a colander separately, and use that.

- A saute pan. We love saute pans, and use them all the time. Again, they are very versatile, and we recommend getting ones without wooden handles, so that you can put the saute in the oven as well.

Use the saute pan for preparing stir fries, sauteing meat and fish, cooking vegetables and much, much more.

- Roasting Pan. These are perfect for preparing things in the oven. From roast to roasted chicken to roasted vegetables, a roasted pan can help you cook your favorite dishes in the oven.

Don't be scared - cooking is fun. Start getting a few things that we recommended, and add to your collection of kitchen equipment as time goes.


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookie doughImage via Wikipedia

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups All-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 cup White sugar
2 cups Semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup Packed brown sugar

Directions:

Combine the flour, baking soda, white sugar, and the chocolate chips.
Place 1/2 of the mixture in a clean quart sized glass jar, and pack firmly.
Place the brown sugar on top, again packing firmly.
Place the remaining flour mixture on top. Cover with a lid.

Attach an index card with the following directions:

Empty contents of jar into a large bowl.
In separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup of butter, 1 1/2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Beat until creamy.
Add to dry mixture.
Drop by tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

Servings: Makes 2 dozen.
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Basic Cookie Mix

Biscuits or dumplings.Image via Wikipedia

Basic Cookie Mix

Ingredients:

4 cups Sifted all-purpose flour
4 cups White sugar
1 1/2 cups Dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons Baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a spoon.
Sift mixture twice.
Store in a tightly covered container as it keeps well for several weeks at room temperature.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Dieter's Dip

weight loss spa beach boot campImage by ninahale via Flickr

diet
Ingredients:

1 (8 oz.) cottage cheese
1 (6 to 7 oz.) white tuna, packed in water
3 tbsp. chopped pimento
2 tsp. grated onion
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender in order listed.
Cover and run on high speed until vegetables are chopped.
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Delicious Salmon

DSCF5811_2.JPGImage by pdgibson via Flickr

Ingredients:

6 oz. salmon
1 tbsp. chopped green pepper
1/4 tsp. onion flakes
1/4 tsp. horseradish
1 to 2 tbsp. diet French dressing
3 oz. Swiss cheese
6 slices tomatoes

Directions:

Mix first 5 ingredients well and divide into thirds.
Spread on 3 slices of toast.
Add 1 ounce cheese and two slices of tomato.
Place under broiler until cheese bubbles.
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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cranberry Preserves

Cranberries, the state fruit of WisconsinImage via Wikipedia

Cranberry Preserves

Ingredients:

2 medium apples
3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 1/2 cup cranberries
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup creme de cassis

Directions:

Peel, core and coarsely dice apples.
Heat sugar and water in heavy large saucepan over low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar dissolves.
Add cranberries, apples and lemon peel. Bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium and cook until consistency of thick jam, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.
Stir in cassis to taste.
Cool completely before serving. (Can be stored in refrigerator 1 month.)
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Apple Preserves

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...Image via Wikipedia

Apple Preserves

6 cup peeled-cored-sliced apples
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon; thinly sliced
4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 pkg pectin
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:


This is NOT jam. I like to use these warmed as a side dish (like escalloped apples). This is from the Ball Blue Book.

Mix apples, water, lemon juice in large pot.
Simmer covered 10 min.
Stir in pectin and bring to full rolling boil, stir frequently.
Add lemon slices/sugar and bring to full rolling boil again and boil for 1 min, stir frequently.
Remove from heat and add nutmeg.
Pour into hot jars or cool and put into freezer containers.
If canning, process 10 min in boiling water bath.

IF FREEZING, MAKE SURE YOU COOL FIRST; IT WILL BE HOT ENOUGH TO MELT PLASTIC!
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