Thoughts

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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Sep 14, 2014

I've Been Chopped

Our local library has wonderful programs for adults, teens and kids.  When I saw a sign advertising that they were doing a Chopped! competition for adults, I was in! For those of you who have never seen it, Chopped! is a show on the Food Network.  The contestants are given a basket of ingredients, at least one of which is unusual or challenging.  They are then given a set amount of time to make a dish.  First round - 20 minutes to make an appetizer.  They are judged and one contestant is chopped. I always thought it would be fun to try.  Even though there are 4 contestants on the show and 11 at the  library so there were multiple chops in the first round, of which I was one, it was a great time.  I met a lot of great people and got to use my imagination.  Want to learn more about my experience?  Read below.

Before I get to my experience, let me encourage you to check out and support your local library.  Not much is free anymore, but a library membership still is.  Books, audio books, dvd's, events - they have it all.  Some have nominal fees, but who cares?  It lets you meet your neighbors, it keeps you entertained and it supports your community.

The library provided the boxes with four mystery ingredients and a pantry.  They also had told us ahead of time that this would be done without heat.  NO COOKING????


I took my kitchen supplies and set up before we started.

The contents of the first box?  Canned Artichoke hearts, cooked quinoa, tomato paste and a child's apple juice box.  From the pantry:  Crostini, mozzarella cheese, rice vinegar, fresh rosemary, turmeric and oregano.

I made a crostini with a nest of italian quinoa filled with an artichoke/mozzarella salad. Not wanting to waste ingredients, I included a mozzarella flower on the plate.

I thought it tasted good, hubby's mom thought it tasted good, now I just had to go before the judges.  When it was my turn, I presented to the three judges.

I was complimented on the fact that they could taste the apple juice and that it had a good flavor.  However, after deliberation, I was chopped.  While we were not told why, I would have to say that it was because of presentation (I KNOW it is a weak point) and the fact that there were several crostinis.

I stuck around to see the next boxes - the entree box had canned chicken, a lime, black beans and chocolate pudding mix.  The dessert box?  An apple, cream cheese, dark chocolate chips and another ingredient that escapes me.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?



Sep 11, 2014

Black Pepper Chicken

My new favorite chicken drumsticks - nice spice kick from the pepper and Red Hot (especially if you use extra hot).

12 Drumsticks
Kosher Salt
3/4 Cup Creme Fraiche
3 Tbl Red Hot
1 Tbl Fennel Seeds
3 Tbl Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a sheet with non stick foil.  Place drumsticks on sheet, sprinkle all with salt and bake for 25 minutes.

While baking, put crush fennel seeds (using a mortar and pestle or a coffee/spice grinder).

whisk together creme fraiche, red hot, fennel seeds and black pepper.  

Place a wire rack over another cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven dip them in the creme fraiche mixture to coat all over.  Place on the rack.

When all are dipped, spoon remaining mixture over legs.

Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24.

When ready to cook, remove chicken from refrigerator then heat the grill.  Cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning at least once.

Sep 9, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Usually, I make the eggplant marinara sauce.  Although it can be made with or without meat, I wanted meatless this time and decided parmesan was in order.  Peeling or not peeling is up to you - I use small eggplants and choose not to peel.

1 Small to Medium Eggplant
2 Large Eggs, Beaten
1 1/2 Cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 Cups Marinara Sauce
1 Pkg Sliced Mozzarella (usually 10 to a pack)
1/3 Cup Parmesan

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a colander or on a cooling rack over a pan.  Salt generously and let stand 30 minutes.  Rinse and pat dry.

In a bowl, place beaten eggs.  In another bowl, mix breadcrumbs and parmesan.  Heat oil in a heavy skillet.  Dip eggplant into egg, dredge through breadcrumbs and place in pan.  Cook 2 minutes per side and drain on paper towels.

When all eggplant is cooked, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat the bottom of a baking pan with marinara sauce.  Arrange the eggplant in the bottom of the pan.  Top each with 1/2 to 1 slice of mozzarella and additional Parmesan, if desired.

Pour sauce over all.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.

Sep 8, 2014

Haystacks

Yes, these are essentially rice krispie treats made with corn flakes, but why quibble?



1/2 Cup Butter
30 Large Marshmallows
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Yellow Food Coloring
3 Cups Corn Flakes
3/4 Cup Coconut

Toast the Coconut and set aside.  In a large saucepan, melt butter and marshmallows.  Add vanilla and food coloring, stirring to blend.  Fold in corn flakes and coconut.  Drop by spoonfuls onto silicone mats or wax paper.  Cool

Sep 4, 2014

Vanilla Ice Cream

Hubby LOVES vanilla ice cream.  This is now his favorite.  It is a soft serve when the ice cream freezer is done and, though it does harden when placed in the freezer, it remains easily scoop able.  No blender?  Use a mixer.

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Cups Half and Half
1 Cup Vanilla Sugar (keep Sugar in a sealed container with vanilla beans to make vanilla sugar)
1 Tbl Vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend well.  Refrigerate over night.  Blend again and pour into freezer.

Sep 3, 2014

Cornbread Chicken Casserole

Chicken, peppers, cornbread, soup - all baked together in casserole goodness.  Need cornbread?  Make it, too here.  Don't like spicy food?  You can use bell pepper.



4 Cups Cornbread, crumbled
3/4 Cup Hot Hungarian Pepper
3/4 Cup Chopped Celery
2 Cups Cooked Chicken, Chopped
10 Ounces Cream of Chicken
1/2 Can Water
1/2 Can Milk
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cornbread, peppers and celery.  Blend well and press half into a 2 quart casserole dish.

Top with chicken.

Combine soup, water, milk and cheese.  spread over chicken.

Top with remaining cornbread mixture.

Bake for 45 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

Sep 2, 2014

Bruschetta

Those of you who have made brochette may look at the below and say 'but you missed xxxx'.  That's okay, I made this based on what I tasted when I ate it out.  Hubby is happy, so I am happy.

Dice 3 tomatoes.

Mince 3 cloves Garlic.

Stir together with 2 Tbl fresh basil, chiffinode, and 2 Tbl Olive Oil

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on grilled bread with a little mozzarella.