Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BACON

Last week I reported that I have a new book, "The Encyclopedia of Kitchen Secrets."  Here is a very helpful suggestion for cooking and storing bacon.

"If you have ever wondered how chefs serve bacon fast and have it be crisp and not greasy, here's the secret:   Cook the bacon by placing raw slices side by side on a rack in a baking pan and bake in the oven at 400ºF for 15 minutes or until it is not quite as crisp as you like it.  Cool the bacon, then place the strips in a single layer on foil and freeze.  When you want bacon, just remove the number of slices you desire and heat in a skillet over low heat."

Baking bacon is always the easiest way to cook bacon for a crowd.  But precooking the bacon simplifies the process when we only need a slice or two.  The added benefit is that bacon has no carbs so works well for those of us that are always watching our carbs.  So, the next time you need a few slices of bacon, cook up the entire package and store the leftovers in your freezer.  Then, reheat in the microwave (rather than in a skillet as suggested above).   Convenient, huh?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NON-TOXIC CLEANING

Do you know that the average household has 3 to 10 gallons of toxic chemicals, mostly cleaning supplies, that have been linked to cancer, asthma, liver and brain damage?  Cleaning with these chemicals is not necessary when you have an all-purpose great cleaning product that you can make yourself.  I've been making and using this cleaning solution for about five years now and I have found it to be as good as anything on the market.  Here's the recipe:

WONDER SPRAY.  Makes 24 ozs.
*  3/4 cup white vinegar
*  1-1/2 teaspoon borax
*  24 oz hot water
*  2 tablespoons dish soap (I use an organic dish soap.)
*  24 oz. spray bottle
Mix vinegar and borax in the spray bottle and fill the balance of the bottle with very hot water.  Shake until the borax is dissolved.  Add dish soap.

This is great in the kitchen to clean food prep areas and appliances; and great in the bathroom for all cleaning purposes.  You don't need a cupboard full of expensive, specialized cleaning products when you have Wonder Spray!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

HAPPY VALENTINE DAY

May your day be filled with much love, chocolate and flowers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

USING LEFT-OVERS.

Meal preparation can be a real time suck and, accordingly, it is important to find shortcuts.  One thing that I do is to always prepare much more than I will be using for a specific meal.  In fact, shopping at Costco necessitates cooking much more than I need since quantities are large and I don't want the food to go to waste. 

For example, you can steam a large pot of green beans, then use them in any number of ways:
(1) Fry up a little bacon, remove the bacon to a paper towel and pour out the grease; in the same pan, saute the green beans and finish with crumbled bacon.  Next day:
(2) Make a salad and use green beans as part of the salad.  Third day:
(3) Melt butter in a saute pan, toast up sliced or slivered almonds in the butter, add the green beans to heat through and blend flavors. 

Another example.  For SuperBowl Sunday I made Chicken Tandoori and Israeli Couscous.  On Monday I posted the recipe  for the Tandoori Chicken and reheated it for my lunch.  On Tuesday I cubed the cold chicken, added mayonnaise and a few other things I had on hand, and had a delicious Tandoori Chicken Salad for lunch.  For supper I roasted up rack of lamb and reheated the Israeli Couscous. 

See what I mean?  Cook once... eat often!

Monday, February 7, 2011

TANDOORI CHICKEN

Yesterday was SuperBowl Sunday and we had friends over for dinner and to watch the game.  This recipe fits as a tasty, casual main dish for entertaining.  It is inexpensive, easy to prepare, and make ahead.  Also, unlike similar dishes, the chicken doesn't dry out. 

TANDOORI CHICKEN.  Serves 8 to 10.
*  3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (sold at Costco; organic)
*  1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
*  1 cup plain yogurt (can be low-fat but I made with 1/2 low fat and 1/2 regular)
*  1 tablespoon grated ginger root
*  1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
*  3 garlic cloves, minced
*  1-1/4 teaspoons coriander
*  1-1/4 teaspoons cumin (I don't like cumin so I substituted 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano.)
*  1-1/4 teaspoons curry powder
*  1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
     Pat the chicken dry.  Rub with the lemon juice.
     Combine the yogurt, ginger root, paprika, garlic, coriander, cumin (thyme, oregano), curry powder and cayenne pepper in a bowl and mix well.  Spoon into a shallow dish.  Place the chicken in the yogurt mixture, turning to coat.  Chill, covered, for 2 hours or longer, turning occasionally.
     Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Arrange skin side up in a buttered baking pan.  Bake at 400º for 15 minutes.  Turn the chicken and bake for 15 minutes longer.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.  Turn the chicken and bake for 15 minutes longer. 
     Place the chicken on a serving platter.   I served this with Israeli Couscous.
Source:  Always Superb - Recipes for Every Occasion by the Junior Leagues of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

SAN ANTONIO

Those of you in Minnesota know what a grueling winter we've had.  Naturally, breaking up the winter to take warm-weather trips makes winters so much more manageable.  Thus, my recent trip to San Antonio, Texas.  This was my second year going there and I really love the place.   Travel with me via the pics below to warm San Antonio.

Happy Hour!

King William Historic District.

Wreath made out of cactus.

Villa Finale, a National Trust Historic Site, filled with interesting collections of the prior owner.


Outside a shop at La Villita.

Japanese Tea Garden.


River barge ride. The river runs through San Antonio. Along the riverwalk are restaurants, shops and people watching. Fun!


St. Anthony Hotel.