Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Which Cooking Oil to Use When

From deep-fried foods to healthy salads, cooking oils play a part in the flavor profile and healthiness of many meals. With such a huge range of nut, seed, and flower oils on the market to choose from, all boasting their own array of nutritional and superfood benefits, it can be hard to know where to start. Consider the smoke point when selecting an oil to cook with. 

The temperature at which a type of oil begins to smoke and burn will play a huge factor in the dishes you should use it in. Will you be cooking your food hot and fast? If that’s the case you might want to avoid the delicious and flavorful extra virgin olive oil, which begins to smoke at 320 degrees F, and instead opt for an oil with a higher smoke point, like avocado oil, which smokes at a searing 520 degrees F. 

Then there’s your waistline and general health to consider. It’s no 

secret all oils contain fats, but consulting our list will teach the levels of mono-saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats in 15 popular nut, seed, and flower oils, allowing you to choose the oil that’s right for you. Will you be stir-frying your next meal? Try almond oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or walnut oil. Feel like a toasty flavor in your next salad dressing? Perhaps sesame oil should be your oil of choice. From flavor profiles to best applications, as well as interesting information on the derivation of each oil from its plant source, see the infographic below for everything you need to know about cooking oils and more.













Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fried Chicken Induction Style

Healthy cooking and maximizing flavor is a simple matter of understanding the chemistry and physics of proper food preparation. When chicken
is deep fried in oil, the outer surface is seared (caramelized) and the pores are closed, drawing the natural salts and sugars to the surface of the meat maximizing flavor. The meat within is then steamed to perfection in its own natural juices.
Sound simple? There’s more to learn... The cooking 
oil and the cooking temperature when frying is critical. Fried chicken, French fries, even donuts, fry best at 360˚F (182˚C). Hotter than 370˚F the food will burn. Cooler than 350˚F it will not cook thoroughly and the chicken will be greasy.
It should be noted, regardless of promotion, advertising and publicity, there is no such thing as a healthy oil. Oil is oil. All cooking and salad oils contain 14g of fat per tablespoons, 120 calories and no minerals or vitamins. When selecting an oil for frying all you need to know is the oil smoke point. For example; the ever popular coconut, sesame, canola, and soy oils all have a smoke point of less than 350˚F (177˚C). On the other hand extra virgin olive oil, grape seed, and peanut oil have a smoke point in excess of 370˚F.
The ideal oils for deep frying foods are; 1) pure golden olive oil (not the green stuff, 2) lard, and 3) vegetable shortening (Crisco)
Fried Chicken Induction Style
EQUIPMENT: 5 quart mixing bowl, NuWave PIC Flex induction cooker13" French skillet.
PREPARATION TIME: 1 hour – serves 2 to 4
INGREDIENTS: 
1½ to 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs and drumsticks)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons poultry seasoning of paprika
3 teaspoons dried basil or marjoram
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoons fresh grates black pepper or white pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
7 cups pure golden olive oil, lard or Crisco
Sauce for dipping (optional)
Combine the flour and spices in the 5-quart covered mixing bowl? Cover and shake to evenly combine ingredients. 
Place the 13 inch (3½ quart) French skillet on the induction cooker, add the oil and set the temperature to 360˚F (182˚C). Heat for 10-12 minutes, until oil reaches temperature. 
Add the chicken to the seasoned flour a few pieces at a time, cover, shake the mixing bowl to coat the chicken.
Place the chicken in the hot oil and fry 10-12 minutes per side. Cook chicken until internal temperature reach 160-170˚F. 
Tip: Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. If necessary, fry in two or three batches. 
To serve; top with Sauce Supreme, or serve with BBQ sauce, or honey and yellow mustard mixed with soy sauce.



Why All-Clad Stainless Steel 13" Skillet?
The All-Clad Stainless 41135 13-inch French Skillet features a large surface area and round sides that hold in heat and liquids while preventing splattering, making the pan ideal for searing, browning and pan frying a wide range of foods, including eggs and meats. The round sides allow for large quantities of food to be easily flipped, and facilitates easy basting while cooking, yielding superb results full of flavor and color. All-Clad’s Stainless 3-ply cookware features a thick-gauge aluminum core that attracts heat fast, while the addition of stainless steel ensures even heat distribution for consistent results across the entire cooking surface, all the way to the rim. Even more, its stainless-steel interior with a starburst finish offers natural stick resistance, letting you know when food is ready to release, and it won’t react with ingredients, so there’s no risk of food picking up a metallic taste. Made in the USA, this stainless-steel cookware offers warp-resistant strength and dishwasher-safe convenience, plus it can be used on any cooktop, including induction. Discover what it means to cook with All-Clad’s most popular cookware collection–All-Clad Stainless is a classic choice for anyone who loves to cook.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Crockpot Loaded Chili

I love fall...sweatshirt weather, football and chili! And doesn't this crockpot loaded chili look good! This chili is good for lunch or dinner, just add some garlic bread and a salad. I'm going to cheat a little bit on the ingredients and use Season's Choice Three Peppers and Onions

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs of ground beef, browned and drained of grease
2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes with juice
2 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz Season's Choice Three Peppers and Onions, thawed (enough for 2 peppers and a medium onion, 1/2 the bag)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 1.25oz packets McCormicks Chili Powder

Toppings:
Shredded Mexican blended cheese
Sour Cream
Jalapeños
Scallions
and tortilla chips for dipping

Directions:

Put all the ingredients in the crockpot in this order; browned ground beef, tomatoes with juice, kidney beans, peppers and onions, garlic and seasoning.  Stir.
Before 

Cook on low for 6 hours and high for 3 hours. Stir occasionally, if needed. Add a cup of water if too thick. Serve with your favorite toppings. Yum Yum!

After, definitely after...took the picture after I had a few bites! Three of the family of five tried it and all three had 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Crockpot Sausage and BBQ Beans

My granddaughter Cristen is going to love this recipe, because she puts BBQ sauce on everything! This crockpot sausage and BBQ beans recipe is another meal you can prepare in the morning and 6-8 hours later you have a yummy meal you can serve with corn muffins and a salad.  

I had all the ingredients but one; molasses, so I'm substituting it for brown sugar. The conversion rate is 1.5 cup brown sugar to 1 cup molasses. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup molasses which is 4 tablespoons. If I'm doing this right I need 6 tablespoons of brown sugar. Let me know if I'm right.

Ingredients: 

2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed 
2 cans of northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup BBQ sauce 
3/4 cup ketchup 
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
1/2 cup maple syrup 
1/4 cup molasses or 6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth or a tad over 1 3/4 cups, if you have your chicken broth in a 32 oz container 
1 lb bacon, cooked and cut into bite size pieces 
2 lbs of sausage, cut into bite size pieces 

Directions: 

In your crockpot add the beans then the rest of the ingredients except for the sausage and stir. Place the sausage on top and cover. Cook 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. Stir in the sausage right before serving. Yum Yum! 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Electric Skillet

Personally I don't think a kitchen can do without an electric skillet. I use mine for many of my recipes . It's easy to make any meal; whether it's eggs for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch or garlic chicken and potatoes for dinner.  Clean up is a breeze as most nonstick skillets can be immersed in water as long as the cord is removed and some are even dishwasher safe.

The De'longhi was rated best electric skillet by Best Reviews this past September. Large cooking space, teflon didn't flake, great performance and dishwasher safe were among their positive points. The only con was that the aluminum body can get hot while cooking.

Other top performers were; Presto, Precise Heat, Oaster and Rival. Electricskillettreviews.com also liked the Cuisinart 150 and 250. There must have features are:

  • Glass Lids. Glass lids are an ideal feature because they allow you to see food through the top of the skillet. You don’t have to remove the lid to check on your food. As a result, the heat stays locked inside and the cooking process doesn’t get interrupted.
  • Drainage Spouts. Drainage spouts are another great feature to look for. They allow you to pour out the broth or grease from your meal. This makes the cooking process easier. You won’t have to worry about accidentally dumping your meal in the sink while you’re draining the grease. Not only that, but it also makes the process safer.
  • Locking Lid. A locking lid is another component that is worth the extra money. It makes it easier to transport your food from location to the next. If you’re moving the electric skillet from the kitchen to the dining room, a locking lid will make the process seem effortless.
  • Non-Stick Coating. Non-stick coating is also a must-have feature. The skillet should have a non-stick feature on the inside, as well as the outside. Your food won’t stick to the pan, which will make it easier to clean. In addition to that, look for an electric skillet that is made of warp-proof material. Warp-proof pans are more durable and last for longer.
  • Adjustable Steam Vent. Find a model with an adjustable steam vent on the lid. The vent helps ensure that no liquid spills occur. Without an adjustable steam vent, pressure begins to build. This causes liquid to leak out of the sides of the electric skillet.
  • Heat-Resistant Handles. Heat-resistant handles are also a useful feature. Since you won’t need to use an oven mitt, they make the cooking process simpler. Not only that, but they are also safer than regular handles. You can pick up the skillet without burning your hands.
Buying Tip: When shopping for an electric skillet, look for one with high sides. This will allow you to accommodate larger amounts of food. Along with that, higher sides make it easier to deep-fry and braise. If you have awkward food shapes, they are more likely to fit better in a high-sided pan.

Features of the Hamilton Beach 

  • The product dimensions are 16” x 12” x 7”. The electric skillet’s 16-inch non-stick cooking surface invites an immediate heads up. The nonstick aspect makes it an ideal cooking unit to prepare recipes that need such utensils. This ensures ample cooking space for the ingredients. The skillet has a relatively high rim to allow the food to simmer at suitable temperatures without spillage.
  • The glass lid is yet another admirable feature of the Hamilton Beach 38540 16-inch Step up Skillet as it makes it see-through. The glass top of the skillet has a stay-cool grip, as do the sides of the unit.
  • The metal construction makes the skillet durable and imparts a solid look to the appliance. No doubt this skillet will last you years and years, if not decades.
  • The electric skillet has a unique built-in pour spout. This makes it easy to handle broth, excess liquid and other ingredients that are otherwise hard to dish out from the pan without spillage. This feature has made it an instant hit amongst users constantly bothered by pan dropout.
  • The lid of the skillet can be clipped to ensure that the food remains safely stored and remains sufficiently hot for comparatively longer periods of time.
  • The Hamilton Beach 38540 16-inch Step Up Skillet has four thick rubber legs to protect its base from scratches and to support the heavy metal cooking area. This feature also helps in using the skillet for a buffet.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Crockpot or Not Pork Chop Scalloped Potato Casserole

This pork chop scalloped potato casserole has directions for both oven and crockpot cooking. Just depends if you want dinner in 90 or 3+ hours. If your a morning person and likes to come home to a meal that's been cooking all day with little clean up then the crockpot method is best for you. Otherwise, to prep and cook will take 90 minutes. Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 boneless pork chops (I only had 4)
2 small or 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, divided
4 cups potatoes, sliced (I used 6 Klondike potatoes)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 1/4 cup milk.



Directions:

Oven method
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 11x7 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium size skillet on med/high heat melt 1 tablespoon butter. Brown your pork chops on both sides and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the onions cook until soft. With the soft onions add in the soup and milk. Stir continuously so you don't get any lumps. In the baking dish spread out a layer of sliced potatoes then top with the pork chops. Cover the pork chops with the soup mixture. Make sure it's evenly distributed. Cover and bake for 30 minutes then uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.

Crockpot method
Instead of adding ingredients to baking dish add the sliced potatoes to the bottom of the crockpot. Then add the browned pork chops and top with the soup mixture. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Yum Yum!

Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

Since I just made a post about garlic, I thought I'd make this garlic chicken and potatoes recipe. If your like me and just use garlic powder, garlic salt or minced garlic out of a jar, you haven't used fresh garlic for your recipes. I did buy a garlic press, but it wasn't very easy to use. With this recipe we are going to use fresh garlic, so I'm providing a YouTube video to help us peel and prepare our garlic.




This recipe takes about 40 minutes to prepare and cook. It only serves 4. If you need to serve more people add more chicken breasts (1 per person) and potatoes (1 large or 2 medium per person).

Ingredients:

8-10 medium red potatoes, cleaned and quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, optional
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lemon, 1/2 squeezed 1/2 quartered
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons parsley

Directions:

In a medium size bowl mix the potatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin seeds and salt and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil if you are making extra potatoes.  Position your rack to the lower third of your oven and preheat to 425F. Spread your potatoes evenly in a baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until they begin to brown. Remove the baking dish and set aside.

In a medium size skillet add the remaining olive oil and cook the chicken 2 1/2-3 minutes on each side until brown. In the baking dish push the potatoes to the side and add the chicken in the middle. In the same skillet add the garlic, brown sugar, squeezed lemon juice and the pinch of red pepper flakes stir for about 2 minutes on medium heat. Drizzle garlic mixture over the chicken. Bake in the oven 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Serve with the lemon wedges and sprinkle with parsley. Yum Yum

This is the original recipe. I'm going to try a different cooking method other than the oven. In an electric skillet I'm going to cook my potatoes. I'm still going to brown my chicken in a skillet and make the garlic mixture in the same skillet. But I'll add the chicken in the middle of my electric skillet. Drizzle the garlic mixture over the chicken and cook it for 20 minutes on med/high. This way I can keep a better eye on the potatoes and toss them frequently, which I can't do in the oven. I can also tell the chicken needs more time to be throughly cooked, as I can always remove the potatoes if they are already done. Let me know in comments which cooking method you prefer.

Yum Yum for Spices: Is Garlic a Spice?

Garlic has a long and fabled history. It is mentioned in the earliest Sanskrit texts, and probably was in use long before man could write. There are differing opinions as to its origin, but most seem to place it somewhere in central Asia. Garlic throughout the ages was highly touted for its varied medicinal purposes; it was credited for curing everything from the plague to gunpowder wounds. Greek gladiators thought garlic gave them strength and courage. Romans thought of it more as an aphrodisiac. Garlic even played a part in the building of the Great Pyramids, because the Egyptian laborers would not work without their daily allotment of garlic. Although the aristocracy of certain cultures considers those who eat garlic vulgar, the consumption of garlic in the US has risen well over 1000% in the last 20 years. Our high quality dried garlic comes from soft-neck garlic grown in California. Dried garlic, either powdered or in pieces, is a great way to add wonderful flavor to dishes without the hassle of peeling and chopping.

What Is Garlic?
Garlic grows underground in the form of a bulb. Its long green shoots produce flower stalks called scapes, which can be eaten. Covered in an inedible papery skin, the bulb, or head, is comprised of individual sections called cloves. These cloves are themselves enclosed in a paperlike skin, and the pale yellowish flesh within is the part of the garlic that is used in cooking. When eaten raw, garlic has a powerful, pungent flavor. For that reason, it's customary to cook it in some way before serving it, which mellows the flavor considerably. It's generally used as a flavoring ingredient in recipes rather than as the main ingredient itself, 
although roasted garlic can be eaten as a spread or condiment. Like its cousin the onion, garlic contains a sulfur-based enzyme, which is stored in tiny cells within its flesh. Slicing or crushing the garlic ruptures those cells, releasing the pungent chemical.

Unlike onions, which produce this enzyme in a form that allows it to become airborne, the compound in garlic is only transferred via direct contact. That's why onions irritate your eyes when you slice them, but garlic doesn't. Still, if you get garlic juice on your fingers, it's easy to transfer it to your eyes, and you'll have the same problem. Crucially, however, the more you slice, pound, grate or chop your garlic, the more the compound allicin is released. Therefore, if you grate your garlic using the small holes on a box grater, or purée it in a food processor, your garlic will be much more pungent than if it were sliced. This is useful to keep in mind when you are thinking of saving time by tossing them into a Cuisinart. If you want to mince garlic without a knife try pressing the cloves with the tines of a fork instead.

Cooking with Garlic 
There is probably no end to the uses and potential uses of garlic in the culinary arts. It can be added to dishes that are sautéed, baked, braised; added to soups, sauces, marinades, stir-frys; minced and used in sausages, meatballs and other ground meat preparations.

So, is garlic an herb or a spice? The truth is neither. An herb denotes something green, whether it's roots or stems of some sort of plant. A spice is anything else from a plant 
including seeds, bark, roots and so on; always in a dried form. Fresh garlic doesn't fit in either one of those categories. The most accurate description would be a root vegetable, but garlic is hardly ever eaten on its own. But, dried garlic in a powder or salt is definitely a spice.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What's for Dinner: Crockpot Balsamic Chicken

There are so many people that enjoy getting dinner ready early and let it cook all day. Not only can you enjoy your meal when you want there is less to clean up. I've made a number of crockpot meals and this crockpot balsamic chicken is no exception. I've also added an additional ingredient, mushrooms. So I hope the family likes it. Why did I pick this recipe? As always I look at my perishables and discovered that I had cherry tomatoes and mushrooms that should be eaten. I then looked up cherry tomato recipes and found a number of good looking pictures of recipes with chicken. I make sure I don't have to run to the store for any ingredients and then decide if I want to make any changes; like adding mushrooms.

Ingredients:

4-6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz brown mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 med yellow or white onion, sliced thinly not diced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons minced garlic 
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon each of oregano, basil and rosemary 
1/2 teaspoon thyme 
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The recipe doesn't say that you need to cook the chicken before adding it to the crockpot. I'm a little
skeptical and going to brown my breasts about 2 1/2-3 minutes on each side in a medium sized skillet (preheat skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil) on med/high heat. Then set aside. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom of the crockpot. Salt and pepper the chicken before adding them to the crockpot. Top the chicken first with the minced garlic and spread around then the slices of onions. Next are the dried herbs. Then the vinegar and finally add the mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook on high for 4 hours. Serve over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice. Yum Yum! 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What's for Dinner: Cabbage Noodles with Sausage

This cabbage noodle and sausage recipe looks good and easy on this cool night and that's why it's my favorite what's for dinner recipe of the week. I'll let you know how the family rates it later in my post. Try it your way by using a different meat or adding a vegetable, like peas. I crumbled some bacon on top of mine.

Ingredients: 

2 1/2 cups sausage, sliced
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste 
1 head of cabbage, chopped into bite size pieces 
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 teaspoons of butter, divided
8 oz of egg noodles, cooked according to the package.

Directions:

In a large skillet on med/high heat add the olive oil, when it's hot add the sausage and stir frequently until brown. Add 2 teaspoons of butter, then add the onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent.  Add the cabbage, 2 teaspoons butter, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook 8-10 minutes. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to the package and the bacon well enough to crumble.  When the cabbage is tender add the drained noodles and the remaining 4 teaspoons of butter. Cook 2 minutes. If you made bacon, sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top and serve. Yum Yum!