Dilly Beans

Ingredients

4-5lbs of green beans (I like to mix yellow beans too)
washed, topped and tailed.
Sliced Lemon (optional)
Carrots (optional)
6 Garlic Cloves
1 Cup fresh dill weed
Pickling spices
Mustard seeds (optional)
6 Cups of White Vinegar
3 Cups of Water
1/3 cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons of Salt

1.  Cut Beans into lengths of 1 inch shorter than the pint jars.  Divide Dill weed and sliced garlic into jars and put a few sliced onions in bottom of jars.  Add 1/8 teaspoon of pickling spice and whole peppercorns to taste in each jar.  Pack the beans vertically in eight clean hot jars, somewhat tightly.  Place 1 slicked lemon and a couple of sliced carrots if you wish for garnish (optional).  Add hot peppers if you wish for a hot/spicey version.
2.  Combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a non-reactive saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour hot brine over the beans to cover by 1/2 inch.  Leave 1/2 inch of headspace between the top of the liquid and the lid.
3.  To can: tighten lids and place jars into boiling water for 15 minutes to release and trapped air.   Turn off heat and let sit for 5 mins before removing from pot (canning pot).  Set aside for 24 hrs and check seals, then store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.
`Gyoza Girl
Published in: on August 21, 2011 at 6:09 PM  Comments (2)  

How to Perfectly “Boil” an Egg

So we all know the story about Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss.  Well, I believe it was because Sam was boiling his eggs for too long and on heat that was too high.  Perfectly boiled eggs do not have that gray/green rind that we so often see around the yolk.  Over cooking also leads to rubbery eggs, and that is NOT yummy.  😉  Eggs are so easy.  They are quick, delicious, and nutritious (in moderation).  I will post an excellent breakfast sandwich later this week, but first, lets boil some eggs to buttery perfection!

Start with cold eggs, and cold water.  Place enough water in the pan to completely cover the eggs by an inch.  Also, don’t over crowd the pan as this can lead to broken shells with the whites oozing out….. anyway…..

Bring to a SIMMER (notice I did not say a BOIL) over MEDIUM heat.  This step is important.  (They should really have named them simmered eggs) When the water starts to simmer, put a lid on the pan and keep the temperature as low as you can to maintain a simmer, but prevent a boil.

Now, cooking times.

Soft “boiled” eggs, cook about 4 minutes.

Medium “boiled” eggs, cook about 6 minutes.

Hard “boiled” eggs, cook about 10-12 minutes.

Voila!  Perfect eggs!  If Sam had used this method, he would have had an easier time getting his friends to eat his eggs!

Happy Cooking!

Kitchen Diva

Published in: on June 20, 2011 at 10:13 AM  Comments (2)  

Armadillo Chicken

Armadillo Chicken is a simple but tasty main course for dinner.  I have to admit, I got this idea from a daily special one of the cook’s I used to work with made up one day that seemed to be pretty popular as I remembered.  I took the idea and made my own twist on it.

Ingredients:

4 Chicken breast
6 Slices of bacon cooked to a crisp
1 Cup chopped tomatoes
2 Scallions chopped
1 Cup of shred cheese of your choice, I like mozzerella or swiss but any will do
Your favorite BBQ sauce

Start by grilling the chicken breast either on a BBQ or George Foreman.  I grill the chicken breast with some garlic powder and Mrs. Dash
When chicken breast are done (do not overcook or they will be too dry).  Usually on a George Foreman 3-4 mins each side.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Place chicken on a baking sheet or pan and layer toppings on each chicken breast.  I start with bacon, tomatoes, half the onions and then top with cheese.
Bake for about 15-20 mins at 375 or until warmed through and cheese melted.

`GyozaGirl

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 4:40 PM  Comments (6)  

Randy’s Quiche

My  friend Randy, who is an awesome cook (and so is his wife Sandra) makes an awesome Quiche!  I have a base recipe I use that he gave me but you can tweak it and add different things, make it healthier and add less cheese and more veggies or not.  I love this recipe because you can make it in a pie shell, without a pie shell or even mini quiche and put everything you love into it.  The recipe is very forgiving, so be creative and have fun with it!

`gyoza girl

Base Ingredients:

8 Eggs
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups Monterey or Pepper Jack shred Cheese
2 Cups of  shred Cheddar Cheese (I have used half the amount of all cheese or even Weight Watcher’s shred cheese and the recipe is forgiving)
1/4 teaspoon of salt or season salt (or Mrs. Dash if you prefer)
2 drops of red Tabasco
2 cans of chopped green chiles undrained (this is the secret ingredient)

Pre-heat oven to 350
Beat everything together but the cheeses, when everything is well blended then mix the cheeses in.
At this time if you prefer to add anything else add it in now.

Some optional ingredients:

Mushrooms
Spinach
Sundried Tomatoes
Onions, green onions
mixed vegetables

Pour into an ungreased pan or pie dish with pie shell
Bake for 45 mins or until center is set
Mixture will puff up a bit.
Let cool for 5 mins

For mini quiche, use mini tart pan
Set oven to 450 degrees
make pie dough or use store bought pie shells and place shells in mini pie shapes in tart pan
Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is slightly golden

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 4:03 PM  Comments (1)  

Spinach Manicotti

I’ve been playing around with trying to master Manicotti for years but I made one the other night with a different twist of flavors blended and even went for a little more healthy flare.  My audience didn’t even know that it was definitely a “better for you” dish and I didn’t give up flavors for sure.  If anything, I experimented with some new flavors.  As with all Italian food, it tastes better the 2nd day when everything has had time to marinate together.

`GyozaGirl

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. chicken italian sausage
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1 pkg. (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained, squeezed dry or you can use fresh spinach
  • Fresh garlic to taste
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Italian seasonings like basil, oregano (optional) to taste
  • Green onion
  • 1 jar (24-26 ounces) marinara sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1 pkg. (8 ounces) manicotti shells or large sea shells, cooked, drained
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook manicotti noodles to package direction.  I usually add a teaspoon of  olive oil in the boiling water so the noodles won’t stick.  Boil for about 7 mins.  Drain and lay out on foil so they don’t stick to each other.
Pour half the Marinara sauce in the baking pan you are going to use.  Some store bought sauces could use a pinch of sugar to even out the flavors
Fry up the chicken sausage, onion and garlic and drain if any fat from pan.
Add thawed squeezed dry spinach, ricotta cheese and continue to cook on low heat for a couple of minutes and turn off heat.
Add parmesan cheese to mixed and 1/2 cup of the mozzerella cheese, salt, pepper, green onion, and Italian seasonings.
Add egg and mix thoroughly.
Pre-heat oven to 350-375
You are now ready to stuff the Manicotti shells.  I use a small spoon and stuff as full as I can without breaking the pasta shell.
Place in baking pan with sauce
When you are all done, pour remaining sauce over top of shells and top with the mozzerella cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving
Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 4:47 PM  Comments (4)  

Welcome GyozaGirl!

I introduced my amazing neighbor, Julie, and her amazing Gyoza Japanese Dumplings in an earlier post. Julie’s food is incredibly delicious and has a distinctive flair.  She has graciously agreed to write Cooking Therapy with me.  You will love her food and her style. Look for her FIRST FOOD POST!  Everyone, Welcome Julie!

Published in: on May 21, 2011 at 9:38 AM  Comments (2)  

So… what is cooking therapy?

Cooking therapy is about the process of preparing delicious food; from the first chop to the last bite.  It is about feeling the silkiness of the dough as you knead, the scent of herbs wafting through the air while a pot of deliciousness simmers on the stove, the sweet anticipation of tasting something that you created in your own kitchen (and some times it’s hard to wait for that first bite!).  It is about sharing yourself with others through your food creations.  The secret ingredient to any recipe is heart and soul.  You won’t find it listed on any recipe, but if you put love into your dish, I guarantee the end result will taste infinitely better than if you just went through the motions of following a set of instructions.     Cooking therapy is about enjoying the journey, not just the final destination.

Published in: on January 20, 2011 at 10:22 AM  Comments (1)  

Food Philosophy

I think of food as a gift of love to my family and friends.  I want to make them flavorful, colorful, memorable food.  You can’t buy food like that in a box.  I think a lot of home cooks overwhelm themselves when entertaining other people with food, which is completely unnecessary.  Good food does not have to be elaborate or expensive to be good.  All you need is a little planning ahead and some time to get comfortable cooking a couple of trademark dishes in your own kitchen.  Mastering these skills will make entertaining effortless, and more importantly, fun!  When I serve friends and family something I created in my own kitchen, aside from the properly seasoned, well prepared dishes, I want them to taste, to feel the love I put into my dishes.  Even macaroni and cheese can be special when you are cooking from the heart instead of just your head.  Obviously you need to be mentally present in order to cook; there are timing issues, sharp objects and major heat sources that you should remain constantly aware of.  Putting your soul into a dish though, that’s what transforms something from just another dinner to an event.  Just as in so many aspects of our lives, it’s the little things that often times make the biggest difference.  Let’s go back to the macaroni and cheese idea I threw out there just a minute ago.  Making macaroni and cheese special doesn’t take a lot of extra work, just a little extra thought and care.  I personally like to use three different cheeses.  Use what you like, or what your family will eat.  I like to incorporate a sharp cheese, such as aged Cheddar, a good melting cheese such as Fontina, Muenster, or Gruyere, then something with a little bite or salt such as Asiago or Parmesan.  I make a Béchamel with a white roux and milk or half and half, add the cheese and its already starting to become a beautiful thing.  Next, consider some special add-ins depending on the people you will be feeding and the event you are celebrating.  Some great choices are lobster or crab, Bacon or ham and green onions…. This is where you really get to start to be creative!  Use your imagination, your sense of smell and don’t forget to taste your food as you cook.

Happy Eating (and Cooking!),

Tonya

Published in: on January 3, 2011 at 8:07 PM  Comments (2)