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Monday, May 31, 2010

Baking With Honey


Honey is a great substitute for sugar in many recipes.

Honey is better for you and has a lower glycemic index than sugar so it won't cause as much havoc with blood sugar- especially if you need to be watching it for health reasons such as diabetes.

Raw honey is better for you than pasteurized, since the heat will destroy many of the healing properties in raw honey.
So, baking with raw honey may destroy some of the healing properties. But, maybe not all.

So raw or pasteurized in baking doesn't really matter much.
Just your preference.

The taste of honey in baked goods is a bit different, but it is very good.

You can find recipes calling for honey or you can choose to substitute.

When a recipe calls for sugar, you can substitute 3/4 cup honey for every cup of sugar called for.
You may also need to reduce any other liquid in the recipe by up to 1/4 cup.
If no other liquid in is the recipe- like for cookies-, add up to 1/4 cup flour.


Grilling a Great Bacon Cheeseburger



There is nothing like a grilled burger or a bacon cheeseburger. So, why not cook it all together on the grill. No more cooking the bacon separate and putting it on after the hamburger is done and cheese is added.
Here is my method for making a great grilled bacon cheeseburger.
By the way, this is the way I cook them on the stove too.

Preheat your grill to high.

First of all, divide one pound of hamburger into 3-4 patties.

You will need two strips of bacon for each patty.
One slice of your favorite cheese per burger.
Salt and pepper to season.

Making a criss-cross wrap two strips of bacon around each hamburger patty.
This is how your bacon wrapped hamburgers should look.
Season each side with salt and pepper.
Lay the burgers on the grill and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on the patty size.
Turn occasionally so the bacon doesn't burn.
The hamburger should be done when the bacon is nicely browned.
Lay a slice of cheese on each bacon wrapped burger and let it stand for a minute or so.

Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Storing Flour


Some flours need different storage than others.

For example, pastry flour should be stored in the freezer.
It will not go bad, but pastry is best made with cold ingredients so keeping it cold in your freezer is only good sense.

Whole grain flours, such as soy or wheat should be stored in the freezer also.

Whole grain flours have a tendency to go rancid unless used up quickly. So, by keeping them in the freezer, they will last a lot longer.

All-purpose flour( both bleached and unbleached), cake flour, and bread flour are fine if they are stored at room temperature.
They are not going to turn rancid.
And if you use your flour for making bread, you don't want your flour cold.

Grilled Potato Packets

This is my absolute favorite way to do potatoes on the grill. Yummy!!!!!

Preheat your grill to high.

You will need heavy duty aluminum foil or double thickness of regular foil. You need enough to encase a sliced up potato.

To make one potato packet:

1 medium sized potato- peeled or not and sliced thinly
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
garlic powder
kosher salt
pepper

Arrange your sliced potato on a rectangle of aluminum foil.
Add the butter and season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Bring up the edges of foil together and seal tightly.
Lay the packet on the grill rack and cook 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
The potatoes are done when the packet has puffed up.

It is also great to add other fresh vegetables to your packet. Ideas are onions or green peppers.
Fresh herbs are great to add, if you have any on hand.
Parmesan cheese is also good.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cocoa Powder- Dutch Vs. Natural


Cocoa powder comes from chocolate that has had most of the cocoa butter removed from it.

There are two types of cocoa powder.

The first kind is Dutch processed cocoa powder.
Dutch processed cocoa has been processed with alkali and is usually slighter darker than the natural cocoa powder.
It has a more delicate flavor.
It is also more readily absorbed into liquids, such as hot water or milk.
When baking with dutch processed cocoa you must use baking powder as your leavening.
Since this cocoa is neutral or slightly alkaline it will not react with baking soda.

The second type of cocoa powder available is natural. It can also be referred to as Non-Dutch processed cocoa.
It is more acidic so it can be used with baking soda as your leavening agent.

So, always make sure to follow the recipe.
If it says to use Natural cocoa, don't use Dutch due to the type of leavening agent needed.

If you are lucky, you may be able to find a cocoa powder brand that combines both Dutch and natural cocoa so you always have the right kind on hand.

Resting Your Grilled Meat


Grilling out or barbecuing is a sure sign of summer.

Some people grill in any weather, but everyone loves to once the weather starts warming up.

Grilling good food is more of an art than some people think.
You don't want to take the food off too soon or it will be undercooked.
You don't want to leave it on too long either or it will be charred to death.

When it comes to cooking meat over a hot grill, resting before serving makes a big difference.

Grilling involves cooking at very high temperatures and while the meat cooks great that way, the high heat also pushes all of the juices into the very middle.

So resting the meat allows the juices that have been forced into the middle to flow back throughout the piece of meat.

Once you have the meat done to your liking, take it off the heat and let it sit 5-10 minutes before you cut it.

I guarantee that you will end up with a moister cut of meat, than if you just simply served and cut it right away.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lemon Squares



Lemon squares are yummy bars. They have a shortbread crust with a lemon curd like filling over the top, similar to the lemon filling in lemon meringue pie.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
You will need an ungreased 8" or 9" square pan.


Ingredients:

Crust-
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Filling-
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoon grated lemon peel, optional
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the flour, powdered sugar, and butter. It will be crumbly.
Press that into the square pan. Build the sides up slightly.
Bake for 20 minutes.
While the crust is baking, beat the filling ingredients until light and fluffy.
As soon as the crust is done, pour the filling over the top of the hot crust.
Return to oven and bake another 25 minutes.
It is done when you touch lightly and no indention remains.
Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting.

Makes 16 bars.






Friday, May 21, 2010

Making Frosting




This is how I make my frosting for my cakes and cupcakes.

This is the type of frosting I use for my everyday baking.
It is not a fancy buttercream but it is creamy and delicious.
It is also very simple to make.

Ingredients:
 
1/2 cup butter, softened
2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
A heaping 1/4 cup cocoa powder (for vanilla frosting eliminate and use that amount more powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 Tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, put the butter and add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, if using.
By hand, or with a mixer cream them together.
It might take a bit of work. It will clump up, but than smooth out.
When you work it together as much as you can, add the vanilla extract and the milk.
Now, finish mixing it until it is smooth and creamy.

If it is too stiff, add more milk, about a teaspoon at a time.
If it is too soft for you, add more powered sugar, a couple tablespoons at a time.

This is enough to frost a layer cake or a 9"x13" rectangular cake.
Or a batch of cupcakes.

Tip: If it is too stiff, it may tear the top of the cake as you try to spread it. 

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

These are great chocolate cupcakes. They are very light and fluffy with great chocolate flavor.
I have frosted these with chocolate frosting, as you see.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

This batter will make 18 regular size cupcakes, 12 jumbo, or 60 miniature size. So get out your muffin pans and fill them with liners for the type you want.

Ingredients:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 8 Tablespoons(1 stick) softened and the other 3 Tablespoons melted

1-1/4 cups sugar

9 Tablespoons cocoa powder

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup water

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the 8 Tablespoons of softened butter with the sugar until it is smooth.
All at once, add the melted butter and cocoa powder.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Make sure the first is blended well before adding the second.
Add the vanilla extract and beat for a minute when the batter will lighten slightly in color.
Add the sour cream and beat until no white streaks are visible.
Add half of the flour mixture and mix well.
Add the water.
Now add the rest of the flour mix and beat until it is mixed well and batter is smooth.

With a spoon or cookie scoop, divide the batter among the muffin liners.
You will use approximately 1/3 cup batter for jumbo size, 1/4 cup batter for regular size, and just a couple Tablespoons for the miniature size.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Check them at 20 minutes. The tops should be form and will test done with the toothpick test.
These kind really don't spring back to the touch test like some cupcakes do.

Cool in a rack for 10 minutes and ten out of the pans.

Cool completely and frost as you like.



Thursday, May 20, 2010

To Sift Or Not To Sift the Flour


You don't see for many calls for sifting flour in new recipes, but all the old ones did.

So is it important or not?

Sifting is important in the sense that is fluffs up the flour that may have settled during shipping or while sitting on the shelf.

It will also get rid of little clumps of flour.
Clumps won't hurt but left when added to batter, they may stay in clumps instead of incorporated smoothly into the batter.
Than it bakes that way and you may have flour clumps in the finished product.

But, instead of getting a flour sifter, you can just use a whisk and fluff up the flour and break up any clumps.

Another thing you can do instead of using a sifter is to use a mesh strainer.
Get a bowl, a strainer, and a spoon. Sit the strainer over the bowl and add some flour. With the spoon work the flour through the strainer holes.
You could just stand and shake it, but you using a spoon takes less time and there is less of a mess.
Just add small amounts of flour at a time.


Banana Bread


This is my all time favorite recipe for banana bread.
It is so moist which I feel is important in a quick bread.

I love making this and giving as gifts during the Christmas season.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease the bottom only of an 8"x4" OR 9"x5" loaf pan.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
3 or 4 medium mashed bananas to equal 1-1/2 cups
1/3 cup water
1-2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts-optional


In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together.

Stir in eggs until blended well.

Add the bananas and water and beat until mixed.

Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and stir just until everything is moist.

Stir in the nuts if you are using.

Pour into the greased loaf pan.

Bake the 8x4 loaf 1 hour 15 minutes.
Bake the 9x5 loaf 55-60 minutes.
Test done with cake tester or toothpick.

Loosen edges with a knife, but leave in pan for 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

This recipe comes out of my very first cookbook. Thank you, Betty Crocker.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhubarb Muffins



These muffins are very light and moist.
What a great way to start the day!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease 18 regular size muffin cups.

Ingredients:

MUFFINS:
1-1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter milk or sour milk
1-1/2 cups finely chopped rhubarb

TOPPING:
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Mix the brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla extract.
Alternately add the buttermilk and the flour mixture.
Stir in rhubarb.
Divide among the muffin cups.
Mix the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the muffins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool for about 5 minutes before turning out of pans.

Shielding Your Pie

This is a pie shield.

Many times when you bake a pie the directions tell you to use a foil ring for part of the baking time.

What is the purpose?
Sometimes the crust can get too dark before the pie is fully baked.
Covering the outer edges of the crust will help prevent this.

Is this important?
It can be.
Depending on the type of crust you make and if you use an egg or milk wash.

Pie crusts made with shortening normally do not darken at all, unless they have been brushed with an egg wash or milk to add color.
So, when making a plain shortening crust you probably can skip using the foil ring.

If you make a crust with butter or any dairy products, the crust will darken so having a foil ring can be necessary.
Also, use one when you have brushed the top of the crust with egg wash or milk.

You can make a foil ring by taking a long strip of foil and shaping it into a ring that will cover the outer edges of the pie.
Another easier solution is cutting a hole on the bottom of a disposable foil pie plate.
I have done this and it works well.
Another even easier thing to do, is to buy a pie shield. They are a good idea if you bake a lot of pie. It is just a ring of metal you lay over the pie. You can get one of these for about $5 or so.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nutty For Oats Cookies

Nutty for Oats Cookies are gluten free. The only flour like ingredient is ground rolled oats.
Oats do not contain gluten. At one time it was thought that they did, but they do not.


These are wonderful cookies. They are made with peanut butter,rolled oats, and chocolate chips.
They are nice and soft too.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease cookie sheets.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup rolled oats, ground to a powder in a food processor or blender
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups chocolate chips

In a bowl, cream the peanut butter, butter,vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda.
Add the eggs.
Stir in the ground oats, rolled oats, and chocolate chips.
Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon drop tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets.
Bake for 11-13 minutes until they are just barely set and starting to brown around the edges.
Let the cookies cool on the sheets before removing them to a rack.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making Your Own Broth


Many recipes I have come across for broth mention putting all kinds of vegetables in with the meat and water to make broth.

But, you don't have to do that.

Making your own broth is very simple and can be frozen to use any time you need it.

I love making broth when I have a leftover turkey or chicken carcass.
There is always meat you can not get off the bone.

Once you get all the meat you can off the bones, stick the bones in a large pot.
Usually a 4-5 quart dutch oven is big enough.

Now season it heavily with salt and pepper.
Also any other seasons you may like.
I like to add garlic powder and parsley when I am making chicken or turkey broth.
Season enough that the smell is pretty fragrant.

Now, cover with water and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover.

Let it cook for 2-3 hours.

Strain out the bones, skin, and any meat.

Cool and use or refrigerate/freeze for later use.

For pork or beef, I love making broth when I am going to be cooking the meat for another meal.
Just season with salt and pepper and follow the same method as outlined above.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy



Biscuits and sausage gravy is comfort food.
Plain and simple.
Make it for breakfast or supper. It's all good.

Ingredients:

Batch of biscuits, either homemade or store bought
1/2 pound ground breakfast sausage
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
1 cup milk
2-3 Tablespoons flour

Make your biscuits.
While they are baking make your sausage gravy.
In a heated skillet add the sausage and water. Season with the salt and pepper. Cook the sausage and break it up into crumbles.
In a jar, add the milk and flour. Cover with a tight fitting lid and shake.
When the sausage is all browned and the liquid in the pan is bubbling, push the sausage to the sides of the pan and pour the milk/flour mix into the skillet.
Stir constantly until the gravy bubbles and thickens. If it thickens too much too fast add a little bit of milk. If it is too thin, turn down heat and cook until as thick as you would like.

Serve.

You will get enough to serve 3-4 people.

Potatoes O'Brien




Potatoes O'Brien are fried potatoes with peppers and onions.
I don't really like fried potatoes and onions, but add in the peppers and I just love them.

Ingredients:

4 medium size potatoes, chopped. I prefer Yukon Gold or Russet.
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tablespoons cooking oil

Peel the potatoes before chopping if you want.
In a 10" or 12" skillet heat the oil over medium high heat.
Add the potatoes, onions, and peppers to the skillet.
Season.
Sauté and stir frequently until potatoes are done.
Turn the heat down if needed so potatoes don't burn.

If red pepper is not available, use all green.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Going Gluten Free - Part 2



There is just so much information about cooking gluten free that I decided to make a part 2.

I found this great chart to help substituting types of gluten free flour for all purpose flour.
You can go to the Celiac Sprue Association for the whole chart.

This is great, but sometimes you just have to do your own experimenting.

Some great tips to remember:

Pea, bean, and lentil flours can be use as direct substitutes for wheat flours, but you will need to add egg whites or cottage cheese as softeners.

Potato flour is a great thickener for soups and casseroles.
I have used instant potatoes for potato flour before.
Potato starch flour makes great sponge cake.

Soy flour has a bit of a nutty taste. You should only replace 1/4 of the flour in a recipe with soy flour.

Rice flour has a bland flavor so it is great for blending with other gluten free flours.

I did forget to mention in part 1 of cooking gluten free that some seasonings such as curry, seasoning mixed, and meat extracts could possibly contain gluten.

I can not stress enough how important reading labels when buying food and ingredients.

I included a list of what to look for and what ingredients could possibly have gluten.

I am planning to start adding some gluten free recipes to the Yummy Stuff blog.

Stay tuned!





Going Gluten Free



Many people are sensitive to gluten found in many foods.
This is also known as celiac disease.

It used to be that not eating gluten meant giving up so much.

But now, there are so many different gluten free flours that you can eat baked goods that you may have thought you'd never have again.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barely, and rye.
Gluten helps with the rising in baked goods when a leavening and liquid is added. It also helps develop structure.

If you are unable to have any gluten, you need to read all labels on food.
The FDA states that if a certain gluten is removed from a product it can be labeled gluten free. So, it could still contain small amounts.

When eating or cooking with anything that needs to be gluten free, make sure you look at all labels for certain things that could give you a clue there may be gluten in it.

Here is a list :


malt vinegar

malt or malt flavoring

hydrolyzed vegetable protein

modified starch or modified food starch- unless it specifies it comes from one of the sources listed below

monoglycerides and diglycerides

products that list "natural" or artificial" ingredients

red or yellow food dyes

vegetable gum or vegetable protein- except for xanthum, cellulose, carob bean,locust bean, guar, gum arabic, gum aracia, gum tragacanth, or vegetable starch

if it contains flavoring, stabilizer, or emulsifier


Here are gluten free flours and starches that you can use:
Corn flour
Corn starch
Potato flour and potato starch flour
Rice flour
Pea, bean, lentil flour
Millet
Soy flour
Tapioca
Arrowroot
Carob
Buckwheat
Amaranth
Quinoa

Oat flour can also be used as long as it was not processed on a machine that also processed wheat.

You can find many recipes that a gluten free, but you can also just try adjusting your own recipes with a mix of different flours.

Pastry Flour


Pastry flour is of course for making pastry.

Pastry flour is ideal for making pastry that is flaky and tender.

Sometimes using regular bleached all purpose flour can result in a tough crust that is not very flaky or not flaky at all.

Cake flour will make pastry too tender and it will probably fall apart.

You can buy your own pastry flour.

Or you can make your own.

I make my own since where I live pastry flour can be hard to find.

To make your own you will need:

4 cups bleached all purpose flour

2-1/4 cups cake flour

Mix them well to blend.
It makes 6-1/4 cups pastry flour.

Store airtight.
If you have the space, I suggest storing it in the freezer. Pastry is best made with really cold ingredients.