Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Less Than Perfect

Caramel Sauce Debacle
I am sorry to have to admit this, but, I am not perfect. There, I said it. Out loud. It's a true fact.

After researching numerous recipes, I decided to make a batch of caramel sauce. I had vanilla ice cream in the freezer that was begging for a tasty topping. Most recipes call for heavy cream, or half and half, or even sweetened condensed milk.
I had none. I have vanilla almond milk on hand.
So I did more research. On the web. Which tells only the truth, and no lies.
Yes, I can make caramel sauce using almond milk.

Sugar, butter, almond milk.
Bring to boil, keep whisking while it cooks.

This is what I got. A thin sauce(perhaps I didn't cook it long enough), which was so sweet.
How sweet was it? It hurt my teeth, it hurt my throat when I swallowed it, it hurt my stomach.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating a tiny bit, or not.

Once I put it in the frig, it resembled left-over gravy
with a thick layer of fat on top.
Only in this case, the bottom was a nice syrupy sauce, that was still way too sweet, and a top sugary layer, grainy and, um, well, it was not ever good.
Not to worry. I haven't given up yet.
Perhaps a candy thermometer. Perhaps using cream.
Perhaps going to the grocery store and just buying a jar of topping.
Happy Tuesday

Saturday, July 25, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Italian Marinade

It's still hot outside, so I'm still grillin' & chillin'.
I love pork chops on the grill. Love, love, love them.

So. Here's an easy marinade that is sooo tasty. And, it can be used on pork, chicken, or beef. I prefer it on pork.
This looks like a lot of ingredients, but really, it's not. Oil, Worcestershire sauce(say that three times fast), garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
The recipe that follows is enough for 4 pork chops.

Mix it up, pour it on, commence to marinading. There'll be enough to give it flavor without drowning the poor chop in pools of liquid.

Once I have the chop on the grill, I like to turn the pork chop a quarter turn halfway through grilling each side. It makes pretty cross marks, that look professional. And, it tastes better that way. Trust me on that.

Paired with a green vegetable, it's a meal in itself.
Is it ever good.
Happy Saturday

Italian Marinade

1/4 C oil
6 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2-1/4 Tsp garlic powder
2-1/2 Tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 Tsp salt
3/4 Tsp ground black pepper
Pork chops, steak, or chicken

Combine all ingredients except meat in a bowl. Place meat in a reclosable bag, pour marinade over meat.Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. This is enough for 4 pork chops.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Favorite Things

Grilled Cheese

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I love to make my own bread, using a bread machine.
Here's what I come up, when I combine the two.

Onion dill bread with cheddar.

Garden Vegetable bread with pepper jack, salsa, and a fried egg. My idea of Huevos Rancheros.

Then there's the heart attack waiting to happen.
I'm not a fan of tomato soup, so I compromise.
Tomato bread with cheddar and bacon.
It's soup and sandwich in one.

Then there's the cinnamon swirl bread with mozzarella and apricot jam; plain wheat bread with plain cheddar;  caraway rye with ham and swiss;  orange bread with cream cheese and cranberry sauce; and, and, and. . . the possibilities are endless.
I can take one bread recipe, change one ingredient, and I'm on my way to another great idea.
Making bread with a bread machine is effortless.
I wonder if I can come up with a different sandwich every week? Hmm, something to think about.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Chicken Tenders in Garlic & Herb Marinade.

Today I'm sharing part two of grilling 101. On Tuesday I talked about grilling vegetables.
Today, I'm doing the chicken.

There are a lot of ingredients in the marinade, but they all add their flavors and meld together, as in a plethora of stuff.

Mix it all together,

pour over the chicken tenders in a resealable bag.
Let the marinading begin.

Skewer them, and grill. Oh, and when you're grilling, make sure there's enough gas in the tank. Just saying.

Combined with the grilled potatoes and sprouts, all I can say is: Was it ever good.
Happy Saturday.
If I'm grillin', I'm chillin'

Chicken Tenders in Garlic and Herb Marinade

1/3 C lemon juice
1/3 C white vinegar
1/3 C olive or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tsp dried thyme
1 Tsp dried Italian style seasoning
1 Tsp poultry seasoning
1 Tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp ground black pepper
1 pound skinless chicken tender strips

Combine all ingredients. Pour over chicken tenders, and marinade in refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight. Remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade. Thread chicken onto skewers, grill over medium heat 5-7 minutes, turning often. 4 servings

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Grilling 101 - Vegetables

This is the start of a 2 part blog. Today I'm going to talk about grilling vegetables. On Saturday I'll share the main entree that will go with the vegetables.

I start with small potatoes, and fresh Brussels sprouts.
Yummy in my tummy for sure.

I use my microwave steamer and microwave the potatoes about 2 minutes. I do poke holes in them so they don't explode. Then I steam the sprouts about 1-1/2 minutes. The idea is to get them just tender, but not done all the way through.

Then I season them, by tossing them in olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, and black pepper.
Thread them on skewers. Since I'm using bamboo skewers, I soak them in water for a while, so they don't burn up on the grill. The chicken in the foreground will appear in Saturday's blog. I included it as a teaser, just to get you to return. I am so sneaky.

Put them on the grill, and keep turning them every few minutes. I grilled my for about 5-7 minutes.

Enjoy. There's nothing hard about making a flavorful, healthy meal. Don't be concerned with the charred outside, it adds mucho flavor. Trust me on this.
Stop back in a couple days and check out the marinaded chicken tenders. I think you'll like them.

Grilled Vegetables

20 medium Brussels sprouts
12 small potatoes
1/4 C olive or vegetable oil
1 Tsp onion powder
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp celery salt
1 Tsp ground black pepper

In microwave, steam or cook Brussels sprouts 1-1/2 minutes, just until slightly tender. Poke several holes in potatoes with a fork, steam in microwave 2 minutes. Combine oil and seasonings, toss Brussels sprouts and potatoes in mixture. Thread 3 potatoes each on skewers, and 5 Brussels sprouts each on skewers. Grill over medium heat 5-7 minutes, turning often. 4 servings

Saturday, July 11, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Raspberry Cream Cheese Bars

I lived to talk about my second choice for the Pastors' conference at our church. If you missed it, on Tuesday I shared my recipe for Sour Cream Brownies, and I licked the bowl, the contents of which included raw egg. Today is a whole different ballgame, so to speak. Sort of.
Let me tell you a story first. I have this recipe that calls for a quick bread mix, along with other fine ingredients. So, being on top of things like I'm known to be(stop sniggering), I took my trusty list to the grocery store. They didn't have the mix, but I proceeded to pick up the remaining items.
On the way home, the light bulb came on, or was it that it turned off? How could I make the recipe when I didn't have the mix to go with the remaining ingredients? Rats. I had had another one of those senior moments, thinking I was doing such a great job in the store.
After much thought, I realized that I didn't need a mix. I have 5.2 billion(only a slight exaggeration) recipes, and surely there was a quick bread recipe similar to the mix.
I was right. Now this is my exclusive recipe.

Cinnamon, sugar, and finely chopped pecans. What a great start.

The dry ingredients go in the bowl first. I just want to say that I do spoon my flour into a cup and level it off. I've found that if I just scoop into the flour(like my Mom did), and give it a shake to level it off, it compacts, and I end up with too much flour. I've learned this making bread in my bread machine.

Egg and melted butter. Yes, an actual egg, not my usual liquid egg product; and real butter. After all, I'm baking for a group of pastors. They deserve nothing but the best.

Then I pat it into the pan, while standing over said pan so that the picture becomes dark and shadowy.

This is what I use for the raspberry layer. However, raspberry jam will work just as well.

I stir mine in a cup to loosen it up a bit,

and spread it on.

Next, cream cheese, real eggs, powdered sugar, vanilla. I used reduced-fat cream cheese, but full-fat will work just as well. And yes, I used real eggs again, and not the liquid egg product.

Spread it over the raspberry layer, and sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar-pecan mixture.

Bake until nicely browned, and the top is set and begins to crack.

Drizzle with glaze.
You know how sometimes they forecast drizzle, and you end up with puddles? Well, that's what happened here.

I can't say 'Was it ever good', because I couldn't cut a piece for myself. I only do that if I'm taking something to a family get-together. Then I use the excuse that I had to taste test it.
Was it ever good? I'll have to ask the conference attendees. Since they are pastors of the church, men of the cloth, men of God, leaders of our faith, they wouldn't lie, would they?

I do know that my much smaller pan was good, because I had some cream cheese left over, and I wanted to use it up, so I finagled the recipe to fit in my bread pan.

Ah, the tasty layers of fabulous goodness.
Yes, it was ever good. 
Happy Saturday

Raspberry Cream Cheese Bars

1-1/2 C granulated sugar, divided
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp finely chopped pecans
2 C all-purpose flour
1 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, melted
3 eggs
3/4 C raspberry preserves
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3-1/2 C powdered sugar, divided
1 Tsp vanilla
3 to 5 Tsp water

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine 1/2 C granulated sugar, cinnamon, and pecans in a small bowl; set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine remaining granulated sugar, flour, baking soda, melted butter and 1 egg; mix well. Spread dough in bottom of an ungreased 13x9-inch pan to form crust. Spread preserves on top of crust. Beat cream cheese in bowl until light and fluffy. Add 2 eggs, 2-1/2 C powdered sugar, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Spoon and spread mixture over preserves. Sprinkle cinnamon/pecan mixture over top. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool 1 hour. In small bowl, combine 1 C powdered sugar and enough water for desired drizzling consistency; blend until smooth. Drizzle glaze over bars. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Sour Cream Brownies
I recently received a call asking that I make a pan of bars for a conference at our church.
Those who would be partaking of that pan of bars are pastors, along with the kitchen help.
I decided to make two kinds, because I am always so undecided, and I worry that not all will like the options, so it's better to give more than one option. I'll share the first one  today.

It starts with a package of brownie mix. I know, shocking, isn't it? I'm actually using a mix. What will this world come to?

5 ingredients, one bowl, one spoon, one pan.
Brownie mix, sour cream, egg, and water. I used a real egg, and fat free sour cream. Just saying.

Then the baking chips,
put it in the pan,
and bake it.

Here's the important step. Lick the bowl. That's my favorite thing to do when I'm baking. There are those who say I will get sick because there's raw egg in there. Well, I've reached my ripe old age, and I haven't gotten sick yet. However, you may want to check on me, if you don't see the next blog posted on Saturday. Just saying.

Let it cool, and dig in.
Was it ever good? I don't know about this batch, but I've relied on this recipe when I'm in a pinch, and it always turns out.

Come back Saturday, and I'll tell you all about my second choice. It's a good one, for sure.

Sour Cream Brownies

1 (10.5 oz) pkg. Brownie mix
1/3 C sour cream
1 Egg
1 Tbsp water
1/2 C vanilla baking chips

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray. In bowl, combine brownie mix, sour cream, egg, water, and baking chips, stir until well mixed. Spread in pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, until middle springs back when lightly touched. 9 brownies

Friday, July 3, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Pasta Salad

Please don't yell at me. I know that I said that I had shared all the salads, but well, this being the 4th of July and all, means cookouts, and picnics, and family reunions. Maybe unexpected guests drop by, and you need something quick. And anyway, summer is the season of salads.
 This one is simple. The ingredients are far from exotic.

1 cup of uncooked pasta will make 4 good servings.

While the pasta is cooking, I prepare the dressing, which is simple. Reduced fat mayonnaise, white vinegar,

fresh ground black pepper.
That's it.

The other ingredients are simple as well:
sliced green onion, sliced celery, crumbled bacon, cubed cheddar cheese. The sky's the limit here. When you make the salad, you can add anything else that you want.

Ok, everybody in the pool.

You know the drill. 
One bite at a time, is it ever good.
Happy 4th everybody.
Pasta Salad

1 C elbow macaroni
2/3 C light mayonnaise
2-1/2 Tsp white vinegar
1/4 Tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 stalk sliced celery
1/4 C cubed cheddar cheese

Prepare macaroni according to package directions, drain. Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, and black pepper, pour over macaroni. Add bacon, onion, celery and cheese, stir until mixed. Cover and chill 1 hour. 4 servings