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When the Temperature is below Zero- Make Ice Cream!
I came upon this recipe on a night I was feeling sorry for myself. You know how sometimes you really DO understand, but, well, that doesn't mean that you have to LIKE it?! Home alone, subzero temps – what else is there to do but make something decadent, and why NOT ice cream? You read that right. And no equipment needed, either. Yeah, you can make an insanely rich home-made ICE CREAM with just two ingredients, both of which I happened to have on hand: heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk (the foundation for dulce de leche wink ). Whip them together with some flavoring and chill. That's IT! The idea of coffee flavored ice cream really cheered me up a bit, but I've never heard of coffee 'extract', and didn't have any – a dash of vanilla and about a tablespoon of instant coffee did the trick! Did I mention subzero temps? Plastic wrap on top, and onto the porch it went wink I'm afraid that didn't shorten the chill time as much as I'd hoped – after 2 hours, it hadn't set much. Admitting to “texture” tests every half hour, perfection (@-10F) was achieved in just four hours – the recipe calls for six hours in a normal freezer. If it didn't freeze rock hard in our current weather conditions I doubt that it ever will. So incredibly rich with such a silky mouth feel...
YUMMMMMM! Not the least bit healthy, but boy is it good!

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 25 February 2015 - 06:02:08
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I couldn't decide if I wanted sweet or savory...
So I did BOTH! My day started substantially earlier than usual, and since even after a full shift it was STILL REALLY EARLY according to my body clock, I had the munchies. Nothing too complicated, nothing that would use the ingredients for the “good stuff” planned for my day off...

Instinct took over as I eyed my pantry. Into a small measuring cup went a heaping teaspoon of granulated sugar, a big dash of cinnamon (maybe a half teaspoon), and – wait for it – cayenne pepper!

I'll leave it up to you just how much red pepper to add wink I admit that this might sound odd at first, but have you ever had those spicy little candy hearts? Or better yet, those “atomic fireballs”? Maybe I'm showing my age with those examples, but cinnamon and “heat” go really well together. Popped some corn in the microwave, a light squirt of butter flavored non-stick spray to keep all that flavor from sinking to the bottom of the bowl, a gentle toss, just a hint more salt....

Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy – yeah, I've got a new go-to snack. Give it a try!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 09 December 2014 - 02:38:56
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Baby it's COLD outside!
It's not even Thanksgiving, and the snow is piling up in western New York. Here in my little burg, right on the PA border, it's 21F with 18mph winds, creating a chill factor of 3F. On top of that, my heat wasn't working! Home on a rare day off and fighting off a cold, I was gratefully snuggled under the covers for a good part of the morning. But when the reality hit that it would be a couple hours before the landlord would be here to fix it, I knew just what to do. Braise some shortribs! I'd picked up some of those under-used delectable treats on my last shopping trip... No, I didn't know what I was going to make with them until I saw this recipe, and I was sold. Shortribs are very rich in flavor, and are best when cooked slowly – in this case a couple hours in the oven. Braising these in beef broth with a ton of finely diced onion and garlic (which practically melt away) releases the marrow as well, providing a silky texture to every spoonful. Yes, spoon. The above is the foundation for a basic, yet unique vegetable beef soup.
Carrots (as suggested), and petite peas (my addition), along with an interesting combination of spices (nutmeg in beef soup – yep), additional broth, and some barley... A veritable feast in a bowl! AND, it kept the house and my insides toasty as well wink

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 18 November 2014 - 22:25:25
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Beef on What?
I haven't traveled much in the last decade and it's been many a year since I've been in Buffalo, New York – but my high school classmate Greg recently reminded me of this treat. What's better than a roast beef sandwich? Beef on Weck! It's a regional favorite, with the reigning champion being known as Charlie the Butcher. You know that roast I cooked on the grill? THIS is what it was for wink The “secret” to this delightful sandwich is the perfectly flavored roll, and lots of beef stock/broth to go along with your beautifully cooked roast beef. The rolls, or Weck (short for kummelweck) couldn't be simpler: purchase good quality hard/Kaiser rolls, nd lafter making somewhat of a 'glue' using corn starch, sprinkle with a combination of coarse salt and caraway seeds. You'll recognize the scent of the seeds almost immediately – they are the primary flavoring in rye bread... Simply bake for a short while to make the union complete.
Thinly slice your roast, dip the meat in warm au jus, add a generous dollop of horse radish – the REAL stuff, not that mayo spread... Dip your roll top into the jus – if it ain't messy, it ain't right wink Grab some napkins and enjoy!
Buffalo on a bun – and mighty enjoyable at that.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 13 September 2014 - 23:10:47
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New Flavors AND a New Ingredient/Technique?
It's the beginning of full blown Summer heat, and who hasn't had a Rootbeer float to help cool them down? I mean, that uniquely flavored beverage with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? Yeah, I remember those days... Once in a great while, for a treat, sure. But WAY too many calories for a regular indulgence – but wait! How about getting that combination of flavors – in a cookie wink You read that right - Rootbeer Float Cookies DO exist! Super quick to make once your butter's softened - and they do deliver. They're very similar to a traditional Toll House, but heavier on the brown sugar side, using Rootbeer flavoring instead of vanilla. And the white chocolate (in truth, vanilla flavored) chips add the “float” part. I skipped the step of shaping the dough into balls – just dropped spoonfuls onto parchment.
I ended up with about 50 moderate sized cookies, which was plenty for me to enjoy and even share a bunch at work.
But this was new to me – you add a package of instant pudding mix to the cookie batter? Apparently there's a new “style” that uses this technique - these cookies DID come out the chewy, soft texture that is my preference, and the author says the pudding has something to do with that. Hey – my results were great! I MIGHT add a touch more root beer concentrate to my next batch – odd, but it was hard to identify until you knew what it was? Or maybe it was just that unexpected... But yeah – these are good! Trust me – I turned my oven on for these wink

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 05 July 2014 - 03:23:09
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How's your Italian?
When I first saw the picture (with link) of this delightful spinach pie, I honestly was impressed with how much Italian I understood in this recipe - but I wanted to get the pastry right, because I'd never heard of using white wine.... So, yeah, I hit the link for English! You still have to translate grams to cups if you're an awkward American like me, so I used two and a half cups AP flour, 3 oz olive oil, a Tblsp coarse kosher salt, and about 7 oz of wine – to start . Needed just a tad more flour, closer to two and two thirds cup? Extremely easy to work with – I might use this pastry recipe for my next savory something wink Now, I cheated on the filling – remember that Butternut Squash and Spinach stuffing for shells? I'd kept some in the freezer, and how could a little squash not simply IMPROVE any dish? It already had the ricotta, egg, parm, and a touch of spinach – along with some delightful seasonings! So I added another 10 oz. package and a half of frozen chopped spinach (along with adjusting the seasonings to the new volume) – the recipe says to boil it, but I didn't see the point. Just wring it as dry as possible, and when it bakes it will be as done as you could want.
I'd forgotten to sprinkle the bread crumbs, so I topped the filling instead wink. Here's part of the assembly... The bad news is that the dough is very tender and breaks easily. The good news is that it is VERY forgiving, and patches are easy.
It seemed to me that the center portion looked a little, well, boring - so since it already resembled a sunflower, I sprinkled that with shelled sunflower seeds!
I'm thinking a batch of sweet and spicy mustard on the side... Not a bad app for Easter dinner with the family – I'm quite pleased!

Posted by Linda :
Friday 18 April 2014 - 22:27:44
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Back in the Kitchen Again!
Yes, it's been a while... To avoid being a drama queen, I'll just say I was on medical leave, and that's that. My “to do” list is overflowing, but I've been wanting to make this for some time... Butternut Squash & Spinach Stuffed Shells! I cheated when I found already peeled and cubed squash in the fresh produce section (also available in the frozen veggies, depending on the store) – it was about twice what I needed, but saved a lot of labor. A box of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, again was about double... Are you sensing a pattern? Yep, and it continues into the pasta shells – half a box did the job. But YUMMM!!
The only suggestion I could make would be to add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish, and cover loosely with foil (the pasta itself was a little dry). However...
The sage toasted in browned butter was the perfect choice of a “sauce” for this meatless masterpiece! Do NOT skip the lemon juice - that tartness against the slight sweetness of the butternut... Oh, yeah. If I had more ricotta, I'd assemble a second pan, wrap well, and freeze for another day. As I don't, I've frozen both my roasted squash and spinach – that'll save me some time if I make this again, or give me a head start on another project wink

Posted by Linda :
Wednesday 12 March 2014 - 21:36:22
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I was SURE I had that in the...
FINALLY, a lazy day, time to clean out the fridge, use up the leftovers, make a new shopping list... Most critical: cooked chicken, potatoes, milk – yeah, all good, but not for much longer. So what does that combo suggest? CHOWDER!!! I know I have corn kernels in the freezer, I just KNOW it! So Spicy Corn Chowder with Chicken sounds perfect. Start the bacon sizzling, add the onion, jalapeno, bell pepper and potatoes – now just WHERE the heck is the corn?!?! What?!? Just Broccoli? I won't be daunted - it will do. I really DID, well, pretty much, follow the recipe. Thyme & chicken - GOOD. Broccoli, well in my mind that needs garlic and paprika - added. Smoked paprika, if available. Good choices! Now here's the thing. Since I'd already gone down the 'chicken and broccoli' road, why not add some mushrooms (had a can of sliced just sitting there)? OH, and what goes better with broccoli soup than cheese? YAY, there's cheddar in my freezer!! Oh, and when using cheese, a dash of Worcestershire is required. Honest, it's a rule!
THIS is what I love about cooking – no matter what you have in the pantry, freezer, fridge... If you have even the slightest of a road map, you can always end up with something wonderful. Detours be damned – it's what's at the end that matters – and this turned out pretty awesome! Wish I could share a bowl with you. <3

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 22 September 2013 - 22:34:41
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Potatoes done Two 'Too Kewl' ways...
For that grilled lamb dinner recently, I wanted something different from a simple baked potato, and french fries or mashed would NOT have been a good fit. Wanting something simple yet elegant, I remembered a technique I had seen, but not tried. Using scrubbed potatoes, I closely sliced them cross-wise ALMOST all the way through – I used skewers as guides on either side the first time, but with thin-skinned red potatoes, this broke down into a 'fan' of slices, which still worked nicely. For fancier results, I might suggest chop sticks?
Before I wrapped each individually in foil, I sprinkled lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic. Baked at 425F (in my toaster oven) for about an hour. I checked about 40 minutes in, and decided to add a touch of butter, which was delightfully absorbed. I opened the foil the last 10 minutes to lightly brown.
Either standing upright or lying flat, a little extra effort makes a pretty plate wink ************** Now, remember that lemon garlic salt? I found that method in another recipe for potatoes, uniquely titled Aerosmith Potatoesquestion? Sweet and salty and sassy – kinda like Mama Kin??? These certainly have different twist... Making the salt blend is the most labor intensive part which is why I did it early, and it's actually kind of simple... I had to try this whole method, because I'd NEVER thought of adding sugar to potatoes?!? Yeah, you mix that with some oil, add the salt blend (I used an amount equal to the sugar), toss with your cubed potatoes and then spread on a tray
and roast for a while, flipping once or twice.
WOW!!! These are the BEST potatoes that you have NEVER HAD BEFORE!!!! Please – try it, and soon! SO – tators two new ways!! Enjoy cheesey

Posted by Linda :
Thursday 19 September 2013 - 23:51:46
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An improv with guidance...
I didn't really feel like anything too heavy for dinner tonight - needed something that I could nibble for lunches later in the week as well... Let's see, some chicken, lots of cheeses, hey – soft taco shells? I got it – chicken enchiladas! I've had a lot of tomato based stuff recently, so I searched “white chicken enchiladas” - while I didn't read all 2.7 MILLION posts, the ones I DID see were sort of all similar to this one from the Pioneer Woman. While you've witnessed that I don't MIND a big fuss and lots of ingredients, I wanted to simplify just a touch. So I seared and then braised my chicken breast the way I've grown to prefer for this type of application, and let them cool a little while before I shredded them. In my freezer, I found colby, jack, and cheddar cheese – mixed together an equal amount of each cheese until I had about as much as I had meat (approx 2 cups?), then stirred half into the chicken shreds. I had 10 shells, so I divided this mixture in half, and then eyeballed it to divide it equally – this was actually super quick to roll them up, and I set them down in a sprayed 10x13” pyrex dish. More than halfway through, I realized that I should probably have added more seasoning than the salt, pepper, and garlic powder I had sprinkled the chicken with, so I played with my sauce. A simple veloute sauce (a fancy name for a gravy that starts with butter and flour) made with the seasonings of those used on the chicken, plus cumin and smoked paprika was next. No heavy cream in this one, but after it had thickened I stirred in some non-fat plain greek yogurt for the sour cream 'feel' (I simply LOVE that stuff!). For some reason I didn't have any fresh, frozen, or canned peppers, so a slight palmful of dried jalapeno (diced) was the finishing touch. I don't know why I was feeling so contrary, but I just did NOT want the cheese melted into this delightfully spicy yet cool sauce – so the sauce got poured over the chicken rolls (ewww) and then I sprinkled the remainder of the cheese over the top. As 350F seems to be the universal cooking temp, in they went for about 20-25 minutes, with me checking on them every five until the cheese started to brown.
Ok – I've got to say it – I'm pretty pleased with myself! Maybe a touch too much jalapeno, but I've got a creamy sauce, crispy cheese on top, the tortillas and chicken have almost a silky texture?
The pic doesn't do it justice – but a simple garden salad, an enchilada (cut in half to show you the middle) – and I've got an enjoyable dinner in about half an hour after the chicken cooled. AND – lunches wink

Posted by Linda :
Monday 19 August 2013 - 00:23:49
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