Friday, September 30, 2011

Lemon Dijon Chicken

I am marinating again. I just love that I can throw it all together early in the day and toss on the grill at night. This one was tossed together. Really. I searched the frig and poof! We had a marinade. I love marinating with wine. I love the way it tenderizes the chicken. Making it so moist. And this chicken needs help. As usual I am using skinless, boneless chicken. Healthy but lacking the skin for keeping it moist.

Lemon Dijon Chicken

In a Ziploc bag add
1 cup of white wine
2 TB of creole mustard (or spicy Dijon will work)
1TB honey
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

Let marinate at least an hourPlace on a hot grill and cook until completely cooked
The honey will give it a nice caramelize color
Let sit a couple minutes before serving

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Strawberry Coconut Cake

This is my "I ran a 5K" cake. Which for some may be nothing but for me it was a huge accomplishment. I was not a runner growing up. I did not take up running until a year and half ago. I never had any aspirations to run, it just happened. On my morning walks, I somehow lost my mind and ended up running all the down hill areas. I did that for about three months. I mean why rush things. I never ran previously so I wasn't going to jump into it. Before you know it I was running the uphills, as a dare to myself. "I bet you can't run that hill" and those stretches became longer until I was running a mile at a time. So a girlfriend told me I should run a 5K. There is no pressure to run the whole thing or to finish in a time limit. I really tossed it back and forth in my mind. People I know would be there. I run alone for a reason. I really don't want anyone to see me panting and dying on the side of the road. I literally did not register until the last day. I even threatened to not compete. But I was there bright and early and met up with friends. I ran the whole thing and felt so....accomplished, relieved it was over and proud. Next year...10K

This cake is too easy. I use a cake mix. Some are better than others but I use whatever was cheapest or in my cupboard.

Really you are going to follow the directions on the box but instead of water use Coconut Milk

Bake according to the box

While the cake is baking slice up a cup of strawberries and sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar (I dont measure) and stir it up. Let it sit or maserate. If you really want to be wild (and kids wont be eating) take a couple TB of Malibu rum and stir into the strawberries

Let cool and frost, I am using store bought frosting but stir in a tsp of vanilla or if you want to get wild, add 1/2 tsp coconut extract.
Sprinkle some sugar on the frosting. I like the effect.
Serve with the strawberries.
I like the syrup how it soaks into the cake.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strawberry Jam

I do not have many regrets in my life. After all every thing has ended up the way I envisioned it. But there is one regret I have. I didnt want to learn how to make jelly and jams with my grandmother when she offered to teach me. I had no interest in canning and couldnt wrap my mind around learning. What a stubborn and stupid child I was. Now as an adult I ache to have to teach me. I have read online all the blogs and recipes for making strawberry jam/jelly. Pretty easy. And lucky for us, our area is the strawberry capital of the world. You can drive a mile and buy them from a strawberry stand where they were picked that very morning. I had no idea how many strawberries I really needed and bought way too many.

The canning...that was something that really puzzled me. I mean after all you can kill somebody if not done properly. The Fireman and I mulled over it, concerned. And then The Canning Queen came into our lives. No really, there is a Canning Queen. I promise you. She so graciously invited us into her house and along with her husband, and taught The Fireman and I how to can until we weren't afraid anymore and were sure we could go home and can just about anything. And I have to warn that once you learn and try it once, you will want to can everything. Now we made more jelly than anyone can eat but you will want to give some away. If you are going to take the time to can, you might as well go ahead and really make a ton.

Strawberry Jam

Canning jars (one case and I like the jelly jars)
2 boxes of pectin
1 case of strawberries
Lemon Juice (out of a container)

So I was lucky to be at a location that had everything. I have none of these items at home yet as I have been canning with The Canning Queen, soaking up all her knowledge (and eating a couple of her BOMB scones with her homemade lemon curd)This is way too much strawberries, but again if you are going to do it, you might as well make a bunchTake the stems off the strawberries, wash and slice. This was a production that The Fireman and The Canning Queen's daughter attempted. I quite enjoyed watching The Fireman doing this as he doesn't really cook.

We are using the recipe on the box of Pectin. They seem to all be the same. There is only one alteration/addition that we will get to.Measure 2 cups of sliced strawberries. We are using a measuring container that can handle some mashing because that is the next step. Take a potato masher and make into a nice smooth consistency. You could use a food processor or blender or as The Canning Queen, she uses a hand held Immersion Blender that they have nicknamed "The boat motor" but use what ever works for you.

You need a lot of pans for canning as I learned. One for the jelly. One for the canner and a small one for the lids.Add the 1/4 cup lemon juice. Now The Canning Queen insists that it must be the stuff from the bottle. It's an acid issue and not taste issue, as I promise you wont taste it. Acid and canning are important.Add the strawberries to a large pan, add the pectin and bring to a rolling boil. I must confess I misread the instructions and did this all wrong in the first batch. I ended up with Strawberry syrup which The Canning Queen has insisted is heaven sent. So It will be used for some pancakes, on top of ice cream or to be made into some bbq sauce. It taught me to slow down on my reading but more importantly The Canning Queen taught me to roll with the punches.
Now The Canning Queen adds just a smudge of butter to the mixture. She says it reduces the foaming that can occur.Once the strawberries are boiling add the sugar. Cook, boiling for one more minute

In a small pan start heating water for the lids. You are going to heat the lids.Now the fun part. Start ladling into jelly jars. You could get creative and use all different size jars. The Canning Queen had all the perfect gadgets to make it all go smoothly. She places a towel under all the jars for spills but insists to just not worry about the mess. It can be cleaned up. Fill each jar leaving 1/8 of an inch on the top. Even The Fireman helped ladle Wipe off all the rims of the jars with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and then take a finger and run it along the rim making sure there aren't any cracks or dents. Its ok if there are, it just wont make a good seal and will need to be refrigerated right after instead of storing in the pantry. We had perfect jars so it wasn't an issue.double check! Even a granule of sugar can affect the process of the lids sealing
Top with a lid and the a rim.I love all the gadgets The Canning Queen has for this. Check out the magnet that grabs the lid out of the pot of HOT water!
Turn the lid closed just till it is closed. Don't crank it closed. This is important. The Canning Queen's husband shows The Fireman how he makes sure it is just closed. Not Cranking and only closing until it catchesThe filled, closed jars then are placed into a rack to be put into a water bath. The Canning Queen uses a canner that fits quite a few jars at a time.When you stack the jars for the second level (we are making enough for the whole town after all) stagger them instead of placing right on top the the next canPlace rack into the canner. Water must cover the jars by an inch or two. Bring to a boil and time for ten minutes. Add water if neededRemove from the water and let sit and cool for 24 hours. As you can see we were canning fools Label them the next day. I am just using a sharpie. But you could really decorate the rims. The Canning Queen insists that you store with out the rims but add the rims if you are giving away or putting in the fridge.I couldn't resist and had to open the next day. Look at the color. It's so bright compared to the store bought version. The color is almost neon it is so vibrant.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cast Iron Fried Potatoes

Ever go to a restaurant for a really good breakfast and the home fries are so tasty that you could have just eaten a plate of them for breakfast? We all have. Thankfully I didn't gorge myself on the potatoes in the restaurant. I do have some self control after all. Well sort of.

These potatoes have been in my family since I was old enough to remember. My father would fry them up for dinner along side to a cube steak or make them for breakfast with his famous omelette. I can smell the omelette just from memory. He makes it like a fritatta except no fancy word like fritatta was ever used. But the potatoes were always my favorite, always going back for seconds and then picking at them in the kitchen while cleaning up the mess.

The key to these babies is the pan. It has to be a cast iron pan. I am quite in love with mine. I had one from my family year ago that was destroyed by a teen putting it in the dishwasher. I was a wreck over it. Not that they are expensive. You can pick one up for twenty bucks and it will last forever but the key is how you clean them, seasoning them so they flavor the next meal. They are worth the work of not using the dish washer. This pan will leave a crusty, crispy texture that frankly you don't get with a Teflon pan.

Cast Iron Fried Potatoes

Potatoes, cleaned with skins
1 onion chopped
Lemon Pepper seasoning
Cast Iron Pan

First thing, wash those potatoes. I am using 6 moderately size potatoes. Really these are not that big, as I wouldn't choose them for baking.Heat up your pan on Medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with oil. I am using canola but vegetable would work. I just do not recommend olive oil due to the temperature although I have used it when nothing else is present and have had good results. But I am a potato girl. As long as they are not burned I will eat them....well even if they are burnt, I probably would eat them.
Chop and drop the potatoes in the panAdd the onion. Add your seasonings. I like Lemon Pepper but Season All would be perfect tooSometimes I add some garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Go crazy
Toss and let all the potatoes get covered in the oil and then do not touch for a couple minutes. You have to give them a chance to crust up and brownFlip and again let those babies brown. Cover with a lid. It doesn't have to fit perfectly. You are just steaming real quick to ensure they are all nice and tender. It wont affect your crunchiness. Promise. You are cooking with a cast iron pan. This is perfection.Flip and ensure just one more time that you didn't miss any potatoes. I mean, really I cooked way too many potatoes but how can a girl resist? And this is why I run every day. PotatoesServe...or eat out of the pan at the stove.
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