Category Archives: Something’s Cookin’

The Baker’s Chain Letter

The other day a friend gave me a zip lock bag with the starter mixture for Amish Friendship Bread. Now, I have to admit, I’ve received these bags of slime before and I’ve never used them. I did, in fact, throw them away.

GASP!

I know! I sort of take the friend out of the friendship-bread-starter-mix-chain-letter. And I’ll  probably have 1,000 years of bad luck or get hit by a train on my way home, even though I don’t cross any train tracks on my commute. I just have a feeling that’s the intense kind of bad luck that probably befalls someone who hasn’t completed her friendship bread duties.

Well, I promise this time things will be different. I’ve decided that I’m actually going to see this friendship bread thing through to its completion. I have kneaded the mixture in the bag, like the directions say, and I have added the required sugar, flour and milk. I promise to watch it and lovingly care for it as it sits and does whatever it is this stuff is supposed to do.

One reason I’ve always thrown it away is because the thought of milk hanging out in a zip lock bag on my counter for a few days kind of grosses me out. Just sayin’.

But I will give it a try this time. I will follow the instructions to a T and I will even pass along the starter mixture to other friends as directed. And I will encourage them to keep the Friendship Bread tradition alive, because I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to have bad luck involving trains as a result of breaking the baker’s chain letter.

(UPDATE: I did not complete the task at hand and I did not make, bake or share friendship bread. I also did not get hit by a train.)

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We Don’t Need No Butterball Hotline

Since Thanksgiving is only two weeks away, I thought I would share my turkey secrets with you.

I was “really” nervous the first time a cooked my own turkey. I think I must have called my mother at least a half dozen times to ask her questions about the process. And yes, I did remember to remove the bag of giblets from inside the turkey prior to cooking it. I wasn’t one of “those” cooks. And it turned out ok. But it was just ok.

I love turkey. And I love the outside pieces because that’s where all the flavor is. I wanted the entire turkey to have the same flavor as those few precious outside pieces had. That’s when I started doing my research and looking for the holy grail of perfect turkeys.

And a few years ago, I found it. Turkey Brine. It will change your world. I promise – or at least it will change your turkey. Try it this year. You won’t be disappointed!

Here’s my recipe for turkey brine:

Turkey Brine

1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black pepper corns
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
1 tablespoon coriander seeds

Dissolve brine in 2 quarts of boiling water. Once it is dissolved, add in 1-2 quarts more water (depending on the size of your bird). Place your turkey in a large Ziploc storage bag (one of the big ones designed for holding sweaters). When the brine is cool, pour over bird (you can add a bunch of ice cubes to speed this process).

Let bird sit in brine for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator. If your bird won’t fit in your refrigerator, put it in a cooler and cover with ice.

When are ready to cook your turkey, remove it, rinse and roast as you normally would.

My other secret is that I use Reynolds Oven Bags to cook my turkey in. It cuts down on the cook time and makes for one juicy bird!

So what’s your secret for making the perfect turkey? We all want to know!

 

 

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Crazy About Cranberry Bread

I twittered about making some homemade orange-cranberry bread the other day and I had several people ask me for the recipe, so I decided to share it here on my blog so everyone could have the chance to make this cranberrylishious bread.

I know most folks like their pumpkin flavored breads, muffins, etc. this time of year, but I have always been an orange-cranberry lover. While I like to eat this stuff anytime, fall just seems like the perfect time of year for this particular bread. It’s just the right blend of sweetness and tartness. Kind of like me. 😉

Anyway, here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1 tsp finely shredded orange peel
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 ½ cups cranberries (thawed if frozen) cut in half
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl combine egg, orange peel and orange juice. Add to flour mixture; stir until just moistened. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Spoon into loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of bread comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely before wrapping in plastic wrap. If you don’t let it cool completely, it will sweat in the plastic wrap and the bread will become soggy.

You can always just skip the cooling and wrapping step, like I often do, and eat the warm bread with some butter on it. It’s like a little slice of heaven. Or a big slice depending on how you cut it.

Happy Baking!

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What Do You Want For Dinner?

Every day between 3:30 and 4:00 pm, my husband and I have the same conversation.

Hubby: “Are you ready to have the conversation?”

Me: “I guess? Are you?”

Hubby: “Yeah. So, what do you feel like for dinner?”

Me: “I don’t know. What do you feel like?”

Hubby: “I don’t care? You get to choose because I decided what we were having last night.”

Me: “No, that was me deciding last night. You have to choose.”

Hubby: “How about cereal night?”

Me: “No, that’s what we did last night.”

And so on and so forth. And actually the speaking parts of the conversation are interchangeable based who placed the phone call.

It’s very frustrating that I can plan parties, weddings, holidays; almost any event you can think of, but I have trouble putting together a simple family meal plan week to week. In fact, if I were to ever win the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a professional cook to plan and prepare my family’s meals.

I can make decisions all day long about other aspects of life but trying to decide what to have for dinner each night just about makes my head explode. So, that’s where you guys come in. Help keep my head from exploding by sending me your favorite dinner ideas. Remember to keep them simple, because after I work at the office all day, the last thing I want to do is come home and try to put together a complicated meal.

I know my family will be appreciative of any ideas you may have, because they’re really getting tired of cereal night.

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How About A Nice Party Punch?

Saturday Stirrings has moved to a new home. Our gracious new hostess is I Throw Like a Girl. Check out all the recipe action over at her blog site.

In the mean time, I’m going to share my favorite Party Punch recipe with you. Since there are always lots of bridal and baby showers going on, not to mention weddings, this time of year, I thought it would be a good time to break this one out. I’ve used this recipe on many occasions and rarely is there ever any left.

Party Punch

1 large can of pineapple juice

1 small can frozen orange juice (thawed)

1 packet of cherry or strawberry flavored Kool-Aid

2 cups of sugar

water

Pour pineapple juice and orange juice into a plastic, one-gallon jug. (I usually buy a gallon of water, empty it out and use part of the water to put back into the punch. You can also wash out a milk jug really well and use that.) Add sugar and Kool-Aid. Shake jug until all ingredients are well mixed. Fill the jug with water until it is about 2 1/2 inches from the top. Place in the freezer overnight. Set punch out 3-4 hours prior to your party, shaking the jugs (you know you’ll need more than just one gallon) every once in a while to break up the frozen punch. Serve while still slightly slushy.

Recipe Note: It is helpful to use a funnel when mixing this recipe.

Enjoy the punch and I hope your party is a huge success!

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My Favorite Way of Cooking – Opening a Can

Yesterday was the last day of school. We celebrated by having have a block party with our neighbors. We decided to go with a Mexican food theme and everyone brought a dish to share. It was a fun party and all the kids ran around until almost midnight playing hide and seek with flashlights while the adults sat in lawn chairs on the driveway reminiscing about lazy, summer days from our own childhood.

Summer will pass quickly around here so we will try to hang on to every moment and memory and make them last as long as possible. In order to have more time with the family on these long summer evenings, I try to find ways to make dinner as light and easy as possible. And do so without having to turn the oven on. Anytime I can make something that comes primarily from a can or that can be made ahead of time is high on my list of favorites.

This recipe is really supposed to be a dip, but we like to fill up soft tortillas with it, add a little shredded cheese and you have a great, fresh tasting, veggie soft taco. It’s what I brought to the block party and everyone loved it!

Of course you can just sit down with a bag of nacho style chips and eat it as dip. Either way it’s good stuff.

“Black Bean and a Whole Lot of Other Stuff” Dip

Mix these ingredients together in a bowl:

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of shoe peg corn drained
  • 1 diced tomato (Remember I like to open cans, so I use a can of petite diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 pepper, chopped (You get to choose the color. I don’t like green peppers, so I usually use a red, orange or yellow one depending on my mood.)
  • 2 ripe avacodoes, pealed, pitted and chopped
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

Mix all of the above together and then season with lime juice and Goya Adobo all purpose seasoning to taste. This “dip” is even better if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours so all the flavors can mingle together.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I hope you enjoy your long, lazy days of summer. For more recipes, visit It Coulda’ Been Worse for her Saturday Stirrings recipe sharing blog.

 

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I’m Gonna Make You a Pasta Dish You Can’t Refuse

I realize with warmer weather here these days that heavy pasta dishes are probably not at the top of your family’s menu planning list.

  

However. If there’s a Godfather marathon scheduled for any time soon, you’ll want to have the perfect dinner on hand. So here it is… 

 

Baked Ziti

1/2 lb. pork sausage

1/2 lb. ground chuck 

1 lb. package ziti cooked according to package

2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 very large bottle Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce

1 small container ricotta cheese

1 egg (beaten)

8 oz. sour cream

1 to 1 ½  teaspoon dried Italian spices

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

Brown both meats in a very large skillet.

Drain meats and return to skillet.

Add sauce and heat. 

Transfer to very large pot or mixing bowl. 

Add cooked ziti.

In a 9X13 pan or larger, place 1/2 of pasta meat sauce mixture.

In another bowl, (you wreck your whole kitchen on this one) mix ricotta cheese ,1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, sour cream, beaten egg and all spices.

Place this mixture over the first layer of pasta and meat sauce, spread evenly

Place the rest of the pasta meat sauce mixture over this white creamy phenomenon.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Take foil off and bake 20-25 more minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serve with plenty of garlic bread and watch your cholesterol sky rocket!

Visit It Coulda’ Been Worse for more Saturday Stirrings.

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