Sweet tea – it’s not just for drinking

Hubby is in charge of cooking tomorrow.   He wants his fresh fish one of our sweet neighbors gave him (the kind that came out of our lake/river we live near and I don’t eat) and he has some chicken he will be cooking on the grill for me.  Mine is going to be cooked on the grill and I am going to brine mine first – in a sweet tea brine.  Yep- and it is going to be so good.  I have wanted to try this process for some time and looks like tomorrow is the day. The bring has fresh rosemary.  Have I told you lately how much I love fresh rosemary?  I will be planting my own just after Easter.   (I was taught not to plant until after Easter – and I can’t seem to get that little instilled lesson out of my mind – sort of like not wearing white until Easter).

I hope you will try it.   And go and cook you up some chicken, or something else on the grill – its the one thing I am excited about with the coming of Spring.  Outdoor cooking!

Sweet Tea-Brined Chicken

2 family-sized tea bags

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (I will use my Splenda brown sugar and it will work just fine)

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, halved

2 (6-inch) fresh rosemary sprigs

1 Tbsp freshly cracked pepper

2 cups ice cubes

1 whole chicken, cut up (or the pieces you prefer)

1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 3-qt heavy saucepan; add tea bags.  Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.

2.  Discard tea bags.  Stir in brown sugar and next 6 ingredients, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cool completely (about 45 minutes to an hour); stir in ice.   (Mixture should be cold before adding chicken.)

3.  Place tea mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal.  Place bag in a shallow baking dish and chill 24 hours.   Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; pat chicken dry with paper towels.

4.  Light one side of grill, heating to 300 to 350 degrees (medium) heat; leave other side unlit.  Place chicken, skin side down, over unlit side.  and grill, covered with grill lid, 20 minutes.  Turn chicken, and grill, covered with grill lid, 40 to 50 minutes or until done.  Transfer chicken, skin side down, to lit side of grill, and grill 2 to 3 minutes or until skin is crispy.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

 

Now since it is just the two of us, I mostly cook with skinless/boneless chicken breasts, or boneless chicken thighs (with skin either on or off, depending on what the store has that week), and usually at least 5-8 pieces, since that is also how many are in the package (and we like to slice up on salads for leftovers) I am certain that the grill master (aka hubby) will most likely change #4 above.   He will most likely cook over the fire – on medium – as he usually does.   

So in # 4 above, I say, if you are a griller, cook YOUR chicken, depending on whether you are using bone-in or bone-out, the way YOU normally cook your chicken and for the length of time YOU normally cook YOUR chicken to get it done.   I am certainly not one to tell anyone how to grill.

I am just saying try this recipe – I do believe you will like it!  

Advertisements

Vintage Cake

I have to make a cake for two different occasions – I think this is the one I am making.   Man, it may not make it there.  Brownie base, from a box, chocolate sauce on top of the brownie, soaked in the brownie, then the cake layers, from a box,  traditional cream cheese frosting, man, oh, man.  Easy peasy.

Think it will work well in an auction?   Think it will serve well at a church function?  Make it and see how well it works on your family this Spring.  

 

Vintage Cake

Cake ingredients:

1 box white cake mix

1 box brownie mix

2 squares (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (half of a 14-ounce can)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup milk

Prepare white cake as directed on the box, and pour into two prepared 9-inch round cake pans.  Allow cakes to cool completely.

Prepare brownie mix as directed, baking in a 9-inch prepared round cake pan. (If you use 8-inch pans for your cake mix, make sure and use 8-inch round pan for your brownie mix also.)

To make the chocolate sauce, place the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan and over low heat stir until the chocolate is melted.(about 5 minutes)

While the brownies are still very warm, place the brownie layer on a cake stand.  Slowly pour the chocolate sauce on top, letting it soak into the brownie.  Allow the sauce to soak in for at least 30 minutes or until completely soaked and brownie has completely cooled.

 

To make the frosting:combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a stand mixer and mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 or 2 minutes.  Add the confectioner’s sugar 1 cup at a time, until the frosting is light and creamy.   To thicken/stiffen the frosting (depending on your preference) just add more confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at a time.  If the frosting is too stiff, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Place a white cake layer on top of the brownie layer and top with approx. 1/4 cup of the frosting, and spread.

Add the second white cake layer and complete the icing of the sides and top with the remaining icing.  Chill until serving.  

 

And just think about the combinations you can make with this – how about making a chocolate cake on top of that brownie – with a chocolate buttercream frosting….chocolate heaven!  i also think it would be good with a strawberry cake on top of the brownie with strawberry cream cheese frosting…. great for Valentine’s Day.   What would you combine!   Oh…and put a red velvet cake on that brownie…bingo.  

Let me know how you enjoy this one!   Have a great day! And if you have time, go to www.lecreuset.com/ website and look at their new MATTE colors.  Oh my.   GORGEOUS…. and there may be a future giveaway in these colors!   So see what your favorite would be!  Those colors are not out until the first of April but a sneak peak will surely put you in the mood for Spring and a great giveaway.

 

Apologies

I thought I put that I was giving these away Wednesday morning….I guess when I added this in the wording I forgot to hit the “save” button.   My apologies.   

What really matters is that I actually give these beauties away.  I am still in love with the color of these.  Parsley.  Makes me want to go cook something.  Or get my herbs and go to planting.   But not yet.  I was taught by my mama not to plant until after Easter.   And according to my basket, we ain’t hid no eggs yet!

Anyhooo,   back to the real reason for this post.   The winners!

 

ImageImageImage

 

So Congrats to #16, Dusty, #9, Natalie, and #6, alafamdoc(who??).

i will get these to you in the next day or so.

And boys, howdy, am I excited about one coming up!   Have a great day!

Happy St Patrick’s Day – Let’s Celebrate!

Do you have your green on?   Don’t get pinched!

Instead let’s try and win one of these!

Image

This Cuisinart Immersion Blender rocks!  I love mine – only mine is not the color of Parsley!   Today, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I am giving three people a chance to see if they have the Luck of the Irish!  Blimey, this will blend your soups to the consistency you want!  Make just a little thick, or cream on, baby.   

Did you know you can also blend those smoothies in a flash?  Also, what about those gravies?   Well, there you go.   Bring this little jewel out and make it lump-less.   Easy peasy.   It’s not just for soup, you know.  Have fresh tomatoes?   Blend for your own “crushed tomatoes” for that wonderful homemade soup.   

Endless possibilities.   To be entered to win one of three Cuisinart Immersion Blenders in Parsley, just leave a comment and tell us if you are cooking anything special for St Patrick’s Day.  

Top o’ the Morning to all of Ya!

Pot roast – with a kick

We’re eating at work next week.   We do that a lot.  No wonder every one is always either exercising or trying to diet.   We’re like that.  Keeps life interesting.  And fun.  And very flavorful!

I am making Pot roast.  But not just any old pot roast. I’m kicking it up a notch.   This one will start off my regular way but with some added spice.  Then the gang (not me cause I don’t eat beef but I know it will be good – don’t ask how – I just know) will chow down on it and on the sides that they are responsible for – maybe real flavorful smashed potatoes – and some green beans – or whatever they choose.  That will be their department.  

Try this one and see how you like it – I think it would make some great sliders – or some open faces roast beef sandwiches.  

Cajun Pot Roast with Gravy

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 

2-4 pound pot roast

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning (or more if you really like to flavor up the roast)

1/3 cup flour, plus 2 tablespoons for the gravy making

1 onion, sliced

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained ( use the fire-roasted for more depth of flavor – or the diced with peppers and onions-yum)

2 cups beef broth, divided. (may need more if roast is large)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or other oven proof pan.  Rub the pot roast with the creole seasoning.  (I like to salt and pepper my roast also).  Place the /3 cup of flour on a plate (I like to add a little salt, pepper and creole seasoning to my flour and mix well also)  and dredge the roast in it.  Sear the roast on all sides until it starts to brown, about 3 minutes per side.

Sprinkle the onions around the roast and pour the tomatoes (I throw in a  in along with one cup of beef broth. Cover and cook in preheated oven for 3 hours or until roast is cooked through and tender.  I like to check mine periodically to make sure the liquid hasn’t all cooked out – that’s why I like to keep some extra broth on hand – just pour a little in and keep on going.  I also like to turn my roast over during the cooking process.

Remove roast from pan and cover to keep warm once it is so very tender.

Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons of flour into remaining cup of beef broth.  Whisk mixture into pan juices.  Bring to a boil and stirring constantly, cook until the gravy reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes.  Ladle the gravy onto a large serving platter, cut the roast and place on top of the sauce.  

 

Now this is the recipe – remember that I cook by the look/feel of stuff – so my cooking may be – add more broth/add more flour/add more seasoning.   You may want to stick exactly to recipe and you may be like me – eyeball it.   Change it up a bit.   Just go for it and make the recipe your own.

Or if you are serving it open faced, just slice the roast or shred it, put it back in the pot with the gravy, and then spoon over your rolls.

Sounds yummy!   Can’t wait to serve this up next week!   Have a great weekend!

 

 

Lemonade Layer Cake

I made this yesterday……

Image

Oh me….. I had seen the recipe floating around pinterest and knew this looked so refreshing that I had to give it a try for my “it’s Sunday the races are on let’s cook something new to occupy my time while hubby sleeps during the race” afternoon.  And this was it!

It is so good.  I will admit when I pulled it out of the oven I thought the layers were a bit “thinner’ than a traditional box cake and worried if it would be a bit on the heavy side.  But when you eat this cake, don’t worry – it is so moist and just plain gooey good and not heavy at all.

And of course, any cream cheese icing is good.  And when you add the lemon flavor to it, well, there you go.  And you all know if it is made from “scratch” I want to make it!  You won’t get any disappointment from me…or hubby.  

Try it and see what you think.

Lemonade Layer Cake

For the Cake:

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate (make sure to stir before getting your lemonade out!)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 large egg whites

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk

cooking spray (for pans – or can grease and flour pans the old fashioned way)

For the Icing:

2 tablespoons butter, softened

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

2 teaspoons tahwed lemonade concentrate (don’t forget to stir first)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces cream cheese (can use the 1/3 less fat)

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or better kown as confectioner’s sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To make cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl;  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes).  Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; stir well with a whisk.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.

Pour batter into 2 (8 or 8 inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray:  sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans.  Cool completely on rack.

Prepare frosting when cakes come out of oven:  place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl;  beat with a mixer on high speed until fluffy.  Add powdered sugar, and beat a t low speed just until blended. (do not overbeat).  Chill 1 hour (while cake cools).

Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread 1/2 cup frosting on layer.  top with remaining cake layer.  Finish frosting top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.   Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

 

Hope you like it as much as we did.  Have a great Monday!

 

Taco Soup – new version

We love Taco Soup at our house.  It will warm you down to your tippy toes.  But when we saw this version, we knew we were going to give it a try.   Hope you do the same.   It is quite versatile.   It is a thick soup so if you like it a bit less thick, just add some water (or broth) to thin out.  But what makes it great in its thick stage is you can

1.  eat it as is (sort of like chili…yum!)

2.  put over fries for “chili cheese fries” (don’t forget to top with some grated cheese and diced green onion- oh my)

3.  make some Walking Tacos – open an individual bag of fritos, top with some taco soup, cheese, sour cream, diced onion, salsa, and there you go.

4.  Serve soup with Tostito scoop chips and scoop up some soup with your chips.  Man, oh, man.

You will enjoy this soup, I just know it.   And, you can, like I did, make one version using ground beef and one version using ground turkey.  In my version (the ground turkey one) I substituted for my can of diced tomatoes for the ones with added zesty jalapenos.  Kicked my soup up a notch.

AND, for the salsa you add to the soup (yep, that’s right) you can choose the mild, medium, or hot – you choose.

Top your soup with some grated Mexican blend cheese (our your favorite), and a dollop of sour cream and you have a great meal.  Enjoy!

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef or groud turkey (can omit totally for vegetarian)

2 – 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 – 14.5 oz. can corn, drained – or 3-4 ears fresh corn (slice off kernels) or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (plain, or tomatoes with zesty jalapenos, or mexican style, you choose)

1-3 tsp Taco Seasoning (can I make a suggestion? use MY homemade Taco Season Mix – listed under sauces – better flavor than the stuff you buy in the store – you won’t regret it – Also add more or less to taste – my seasoning mix is also a higher heat level than what you purchase in the store)

1 – 16 oz. container/jar of salsa, – your preferred heat level

Garnishes:

Tortilla ships, crumbled 

Shredded cheese, your favorite blend/brand

Sour cream

In a soup kettle, brown the ground beef or turkey and drain any fat.   Add the drained black beans and corn, tomatoes  with juice, taco seasoning and salsa.  Water may be added if you want it thinner.  Cook over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve with garnishes of your choice.  

Image

See?  How good does this look?   And man, have we enjoyed ours.   Hope you do, too. 

Cookies and a movie

Today is special – we have a guest chef! While producing her video for a school project, I thought it would be fun to share with you the great job she did along with a recipe for some great chocolate chip cookies. While this is not quite the exact recipe she used, it is pretty close. Hers smelled so good I made these for hubby – I substituted the regular sugars for the Splenda products so that they would be diabetic friendly. Taking some to work proved to be a good thing. They were a big hit. Enjoy the video, and enjoy the recipe.

Soft and chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
11 1/2 ounces Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate chips (you can use any flavor of chips)
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup sugar (I used Splenda Sugar Substitute)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I used Splenda Brown Sugar Substitute)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional) (I used chopped pecans)

Instructions
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

I baked mine for exactly 9 minutes – they were poofy, soft and delicious.

Have a great week!