Monday, September 29, 2008

Links list

1. Have too many pumpkins? Check out the pumpkin recipes at pinch my salt. They sound great. A few examples are whole wheat pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin enchiladas, and black bean pumpkin soup.
2. Apartment Therapy tell you when to use red, russet, and Yukon gold potatoes.
3. Not Martha had a taste test between Oreos, Hydrox, and Newman's O's.
4. Foodista has devil fruit. Fruit that looks like the devil or maybe a bat. Odd looking anyway.
5. Daily feed asks (but doesn't answer) Why is the bread a BBQ places so bad? Good question. Why to they take so much care to create the perfect barbecue and then just slap a piece of wonder bread on the plate?
6. The good people at This peanut looks like a duck are looking for pictures of things that look like a duck.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How to freeze bacon in individual strips



Oh, if bacon was somehow deemed good for you, I'd eat it for every meal. It's not. If you are like me and have less then eight people in your family, you might not want to cook a whole package of bacon at once. Here is how to freeze it so you can pull as many (or few) pieces of bacon out of the freezer as you need, when you need them. Place a strip of bacon on the plastic wrap. Pull the plastic wrap over the top of that strip of bacon and stack another piece of bacon directly on top of that piece of bacon (with the plastic wrap between). Pull the plastic wrap to the other side of the stack so the plastic wrap is on top of that piece of bacon. Stack the bacon and weave the plastic wrap in between until you have stacked all your bacon. Wrap the stack with the excess plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Place the freezer bag on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer. The cookie sheet is to ensure that the bacon remains flat while it's freezing. After it's frozen, you can remove the cookie sheet.
Alternate method: Roll each slice of bacon into a pinwheel. Place each bacon pinwheel on a cookie sheet and freeze. When frozen, place in a freezer bag.









Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Baskin Robbins Shake of Death

Congratulations Baskin Robbins. You've managed to pack your large Heath Shake with 2,300 calories, about a half pound of sugar, and 64 grams of saturated fat (plus some other fat). Way to go. I didn't think it was possible. But you did it. See this post.

More Hershey's that aren't chocolate.

According to this post 5th Avenue bars, Reese Sticks, Nutrageous, Reese's Whips, and Reese's Crispy Crunch are not chocolate either. They also lie currently or were previously lying about their chocolate content on their website describing their bars as chocolate. This is even true for products that haven't been chocolate for years and some the were never chocolate. Also, they won't give you information about the contents of their bars on the phone. The author of the website in the link tried to call to find out what is in a Krackle. (ingredients on the miniatures bag are the ingredients for all of the miniature bars listed together) They wouldn't tell her what was in a Krackle. She guessed the ingredients. Sugar and vegetable oil (I'll get to that) flavored with some chocolate and crispy rice (plus a few others). Vegetable oil is not really made from vegetables. It's palm oil and shea and sunflower oil and safflower oil. I'm not sure that palm oil and shea oil should really count as food. They sure don't count as vegetables. Krackle bars might be better titled Kraple bars. It's also possible that none of this ingredients she guessed are correct, but Hershey's sure won't tell you.
On a personal note. When I've had Whoppers (which evidently haven't been chocolate for years) in the past few years, I've thought there was something really weird about the chocolate. It tasted oily (because it was made from "vegetable oil") and didn't melt at all in my mouth. My sister suggested that it probably wasn't chocolate. It said chocolate (probably chocolate candy or chocolaty) on the box (it has to say milk chocolate to be real milk chocolate. I didn't know that then.) so I just thought it was cruddy chocolate. Little did I know. My point is that replacing the cocoa butter with vegetable oil is not only deceptive and has nutritional implications, it also doesn't taste good.
See my other Hershey's posts here and here for lists of other Hershey's products that aren't made from chocolate. Happy Halloween.

Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar

I made this recipe to see if I liked acorn squash. (Last year, before I had a blog.) I decided if I didn't like the squash in this recipe, I just don't like squash. I can't imagine that there would be a better acorn squash recipe. This recipe (acorn squash with brown sugar) was fantastic. Well...ya know...except for the squash in it. Needless to say, I didn't make the second squash recipe. See the entry for how to pick out and store an acorn squash (next post). See the hints at the bottom of this post on how to cut a squash safely. This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated magazine.

ACORN SQUASH WITH BROWN SUGAR
Squash smaller then 1 1/2 lbs will likely cook a little faster then the recipe indicates, so begin checking for doneness a few minutes early. Conversely, larger squash will take slightly longer to cook. However, keep in mind that the cooking time is largely dependent on the microwave. If microwaving the squash in Pyrex, the manufacturer recommends adding water to the dish (or bowl) prior to cooking. To avoid a steam burn when uncovering the cooked squash, peel back the plastic wrap very carefully, starting from the side that is farthest away from you.

INGREDIENTS

2 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each), halved pole to pole (through the root end) and seeded

salt

3 T butter

3 T dark brown sugar


1. Sprinkle squash halves with salt and place halves cut-sides down in a 13 by 9-inch microwave-safe baking dish or arrange halves in large (about 4 quart) microwave safe bowl, so that cut sides face out. If using Pyrex, add 1/2 cup water to dish or bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, using multiple sheets, if necessary; with paring knife, poke about 4 steam vents in the plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until squash is very tender and offers no resistance when pierced with a paring knife, 15 to 25 minutes. Using potholders, remove baking dish or bowl from the microwave and set on a clean, dry surface (avoid damp or cold surfaces).

2. While squash is cooking, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element); heat broiler. Melt butter, brown sugar and 1/8 tps salt in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally, until combined.

3. When squash is cooked, carefully pull back plastic wrap from the side furthest from you. Using tongs, transfer cooked squash cut-side up to rimmed baking sheet. Spoon portion of butter/sugar mixture onto each squash half. Broil until brown and caramelized, 5 to 8 minutes, rotating baking sheet as necessary and removing squash halves as they are done. Set squash halves on individual plates and serve immediately.

ACORN SQUASH WITH ROSEMARY-DRIED FIG COMPOTE

1. Follow the recipe for Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar, omitting brown sugar/butter mixture. While squash is cooking, combine 1 cup orange juice; 4 dried black figs, chopped medium (scant 1/2 cup); 1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary; 1 T dark brown sugar, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper; and 1/8 tps salt in a small saucepan. Simmer rapidly over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until syrupy and liquid is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter.

2. Continue with the recipe to fill and broil squash halves, substituting fig compote for brown sugar/butter mix.

TWO WAYS TO CUT A SQUASH SAFELY

Knife and rubber mallet:


1. Set squash on a damp kitchen towel to hold it in place. Position knife on rind of squash.

2. Strike back of knife with rubber mallet to drive knife into squash. Continue to hit knife with mallet until knife cuts through squash.

Metal bench scraper and hammer:

1. Set squash on damp kitchen towel. Position bench scrapper on rind.

2. Strike handle of bench scraper with hammer until blade cuts through squash.

HOW TO BUY AND STORE ACORN SQUASH

HOW TO BUY AND STORE ACORN SQUASH

According to Cooks Illustrated Magazine:

Season Acorn squash is domestically in season from July through November. When Purchased in the off-season, the squash, which during those months is usually imported from, Mexico, is likely to be more expensive. Squash that has spent weeks in transit cooked up dehydrated, fibrous, and pasty in the test kitchen. (and buying local produce is better for the earth)

Weight Squash should be hard and heavy for its size, and indication that it contains a lot of moisture and has not been sitting on the supermarket produce shelf for weeks.


Color The most popular variety of acorn squash is green, though gold and white varieties are spottily available. Gold or orange tinges on the rind of green squash are not indicators of ripeness, but rather a mark of where the fruit touched the ground during growing (and was therefore untouched by sunlight).


Storage Acorn Squash should be stored at cool room temperature, not in the refrigerator. When storing squash for a few weeks in the refrigerator, chill damage sets in, causing the flavor and texture to deteriorate.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes Olives, Capers, and Oregano


I brought home some garden tomatoes from my sister's house. They had more then they could use and they were ripening fast. I decided to try this recipe from cooks illustrated. I made it almost as written. I just used plain ole black olives and omitted the pine nuts because I didn't have either in the house. Cooks Illustrated says you can substitute grape tomatoes, but you
should reduce or omit the sugar. I used grape tomatoes with all the sugar (because I didn't read directions) and I thought it was great. The tomato flavor was a cross between a roasted tomato and a sun dried tomato. My tomatoes were nearly overripe garden tomatoes. I'm not
sure if that's why I had the awesome sun-dried flavor or if it is the sugar, or if it just comes with roasting small tomatoes. I've never roasted small tomatoes before. I usually put them in salads or pop them strait in my mouth.

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes Olives, Capers, and Oregano
serves 5-6 people
INGREDIENTS
3 pints (2 lbs) cherry tomatoes, each tomato halved pole to pole (lengthwise)
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
3 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/4 c drained capers
1 lb spaghetti
1 T salt
1/4 c chopped kalamata olives
3 T chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted (optional)
2 oz grated Pecorino Romano cheese (1 cup) (I used Parmesan)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position: heat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, gently toss tomatoes with oil, 1/2 tsp salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, garlic, and capers. Spread in even layer on rimmed baking sheet (about 17 by 12) and roast until tomato skins are slightly shriveled (tomatoes should retain their shape), 35-40 minutes. (Do not stir tomatoes during roasting.) Remove tomatoes from oven and cool 5-10 minutes.
2. While tomatoes cook, bring four quarts of water to a boil in large stockpot. Just before removing tomatoes from the oven, stir 1 T salt and pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Using rubber spatula, scrape tomato mixture into pot on top of pasta. Add olives and oregano; toss to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkling pine nuts and cheese over individual bowls.

Friday, September 19, 2008

All Hershey's is not chocolate.

Remember my post on how Hershey's Kissables are no longer legally considered milk chocolate? Well it's not just the Kissables folks. It's also Whatchamacallit (I guess the still make them), Mr. Goodbar, Milk Duds and Krackle are no longer chocolate either. They've replaced the cocoa butter with vegetable oil. Cocoa butter is what makes chocolate melt in your mouth. Mr. Goodbar and Krackle are both in the bags of Hershey's minis. What was once labeled "milk chocolate" is now labeled "chocolate candy", "chocolaty", or "made with chocolate". Watch out for those phrases if you want chocolate in your chocolate. "There's a smile in every Hershey's bar." But there isn't chocolate. "Hershey's: the Great American Chocolate (or vegetable oil) Bar." Read more about it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Craftzine

Holly Cow. I'm on Craftzine. Kristy sent in my pizza on the grill post and they totally posted it. I'm Famous! Must be my lucky day. I also got two numbers on my Powerball ticket. Only one more number and I could have won actual money.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lora's Dark Chocolate Ice Cream


I've been working on perfecting my chocolate ice cream recipe. I tried using real melted chocolate. The result? Chocolate frosting ice cream. Not what I was looking for. I tried dutch processed cocoa in place of the regular cocoa. The result? Chocolate cake batter ice cream. Again, not what I was after. I replaced the sugar with dark brown sugar and cut the amount of sugar. I like a deep dark chocolate flavor, which you get with less sugar. I also liked a mixture of the two cocoas. It adds a depth of flavor. Hershey's special dark cocoa is a dutch cocoa found in many supermarkets. (That's not the brand I have.) I liked the recipe at that point, but I thought I needed more chocolate flavor and a deeper chocolate flavor. Next I added a tsp of espresso powder for depth of flavor. This is enough to add low notes, but not enough to make it taste like mocha. I also added the dark chocolate candy bar. This made the ice cream chocolaty enough. The problem now is that when you refreeze the ice cream base, the melted chocolate turns into minuscule chocolate chips and that gives it a gritty texture. I'm not really sure how to fix that. I like the more chocolaty flavor more then I'm offended by the gritty texture. If I come up with a solution, I'll edit the post. (if you like the recipe as is, you should print it, because it might change). My ice cream maker only holds and irksome 3 cups of ice cream instead of a quart. The amounts in parentheses at the end are the amounts to make a quart (plus a bit more) of ice cream if you prefer to make a quartish.

LORA’S DARK CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM


INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 c milk (2c)

3 egg yolks(4 egg yolks)

3/4 of a 3.52 oz 60% chocolate, chopped. I used Hershey's special dark chocolate (the whole bar)

3/4 c dark brown sugar (1 c)

1/4 c+ 1 1/2 tsp natural cocoa (just regular cocoa)(1/4 c + 2T)

1 T +1 1/2 tsp Dutch processed cocoa( 2T)

pinch of salt (pinch is about 1/8 tsp)

3/4 tsp vanilla (1 tsp)
1 tsp espresso powder (1 1/3 tsp espresso powder)
1 1/2 c cream (2 c)


Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk egg yolks until they are a pale yellow. Whisk in sugar. Gradually whisk in milk over a double boiler.(it goes faster if the milk is prewarmed) Continue to stir until slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. The eggs are safe at 160 degrees which is also the temperature when the mixture thickens. Pour the mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let set for 5 minutes and then stir. The chocolate should be completely melted. Cool several hours in the refrigerator or over night. Whisk remaining ingredients together, except the whipping cream. It takes a bit of work to whisk in the cocoa powder. Keep at it and it will eventually mix in. Then whisk in the cream. Process in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Peach Ice Cream



My brother in law bought a box of fresh peaches from a church group. That was great. But the problem was, the peaches were all very ripe and read to be eaten immediately (they were also very juicy and very tasty). They gave me some of the excess peaches and I made peach ice cream. I really like the peach ice cream. It's peachy and creamy and delicious. However, unless I find myself in a situation where I have excess peaches again, I probably won't make this again. I think peaches are great eaten fresh and unadorned. Ice cream doesn't improve the taste of peaches. That being said, if my peaches are in danger of going bad, I'll turn them into ice cream again. I might try adding some fresh mint. I just made it this afternoon, so I can't say for sure. But I'm pretty sure it will freeze as hard as a rock. This recipe is from Dave Libovitz's cookbook "The Perfect Scoop" and this blog and this blog.

FRESH PEACH ICE CREAM
INGREDIENTS
3 large peaches
1/2 c water
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c sour cream
1 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice

Fill a 3 quart pot half way and bring to a boil. Make an X on the top of each peach. Add the peaches to the boiling water and boil 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Rinse immediately under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Peel and dice the peaches. Add the peaches and 1/2 c water to a covered saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 10 minutes, stir once or twice. Take the peaches off the heat and stir in the sugar. When the mixture has cooled somewhat, blend with an immersion blender. You can either blend everything smooth or leave some chunks. Cool in the refrigerator until cold. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and freeze according to your ice cream makers directions.

Links list

Article from the New York Times about kids who are picky eaters. 6 Food Mistakes Parents Make

How to infuse spices or herbs (mint, basil, anise) into your ice cream.

Avocado ice cream and 19 others at Desert Candy

Slice citrus (lemons) lengthwise to get more juice.

To double or halve a recipe use the Recipe Ingredient Conversion Calculator. I haven't used this since I'm actually pretty good at math and know facts like there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon off the top of my head.

Why Potatoes turn green. Keep them in a cool dark place.

Places to buy organic vanilla beans, saffron, etc. at good prices on ebay.

Would you like to make your own mozzarella this weekend? Or you could try some homemade ricotta.
I plan to make both someday.

Check out this Chewy Turkish Ice Cream. It looks like taffy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

1,000 Blades of Grass Cake

You should check out the post on my sister's blog about her newest cake. A dome of daises with butterflies and 1,000 individual blades of grass individually placed on the board surrounding the cake. It's pretty cool.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Honey Mustard Chicken


O.K. Ready for the recipe?
1 part honey
1 part mustard
Pretty complicated. Mix equal parts of honey and mustard. You can use Dijon mustard if you want. I used Sandwich Pal brand horseradish mustard. I've used other flavors of sandwich pal mustard to make this too. Whatever you like. You can mix in some fresh dill if you like also. Then season and grill your chicken. Brush on the honey mustard toward the end of the grilling. If you put it on in the beginning the honey will burn. Easy, quick, and good. The honey mustard sauce is also a good dip for pretzels.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Roast Beef, Bleu Cheese, Horseradish and Veggies


This is just a description and not a recipe. Toast whole wheat bread. Spread Mayo on one side and horseradish on the other. Saute sliced cabbage (mine was purple), sliced onions, and sliced green pepper. (you could also add grated carrots). When it gets close to done add bleu cheese (I also added quartered cherry tomatoes). When the cheese is melted, add the veggies and roast beef to the sandwich.

How to freeze chipotle chilies


Almost all recipes that call for chipotle chilies call for one chili and 2 tsp of adobo sauce (the sauce in the can). But then you have a whole can of chilies left. Here is how you freeze them. Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Place the chilies on the waxed paper with plenty of space between them. I didn't leave enough space between the chilies in the picture. Divide the sauce between the chilies. Freeze. When the chilies are frozen, tear the waxed paper between each chili and wrap around the individual chilies. This may be enough if you have left enough waxed paper between the chilies. If you are like me and haven't, then wrap the individual chilies in saran wrap. Place all the chilies in a Ziploc freezer bag and store in the freezer. For recipes using chipotle chilies, search for chipotle in the search box in top left corner of my blog by the orange letter B. By the way, a chipotle chili is a smoked jalapeno pepper.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

new look

I chose a new blog template. When I get bored with this one I'll change it again.
If you are a daring baker you can join their food blogging group. I'd suggest above average baking skills or no sense of fear if you join that group. Chocolate Eclairs, Strawberry Mirror Cake, Danish Braids, and Cheesecake Pops are a few examples.
More Asian junk food. Black Tea flavored Kit Kats and a (different brand) Cheetos without the cheese powder but with a spread of chocolate. I'd sure give either a try.